Going to conferences are invigorating, inspiring, and hectic. Believe it or not, I’m pretty shy. I know a lot of people, but I’d much prefer to stay home than go to large parties, and I get anxious in new environments. BUT. . .I love going to the ASCA annual conference with over 3,000 like-minded school counselors!
I feel like I’m visiting family. Each counselor I meet leaves a mark on my heart. I look forward to talking shop with them, listening to them talk about their families, their careers, and their passions. They are a welcoming group, and it doesn’t matter who you’re with, or who you’re without, you’ll find yourself welcomed and feel like you’re home.
With that being said, there are a few things to understand about going to a huge professional conference.
1. Go to learn something. Take notes, be open minded, and be OK with acknowledging if the workshop you are in isn’t your thing, then allow yourself to leave and try another one.
2. Dress Comfortably. It’s going to be hot outside, but most likely, freezing inside. Bring a sweater and dress in layers. A tote is another thing you might want to carry. Opt for a good sturdy pair of walking shoes, and if you are wearing those new tennis shoes you just had to buy for the trip, bring some band aides just in case. You are going for a casual look, but you are still with professionals so look for a good balance. I will probably be wearing my dress yoga pants and a Polo t-shirt.
3. Things to pack. I always pack aspirin/advil, rolaids, a battery pack, a small notebook, business cards ( I use these in the exhibit hall for vendors), an extra iphone cord. charging plug, band aides, and a book and a few movies downloaded onto my devices. (The last are for the plane ride, and also the layovers).
4. Wear a smile. Even if you are lost, confused, or having the time of your life, the best way to meet others is to look approachable. You’ll be amazed at how helpful everyone is and how willing to connect people are.
5. Have a plan. Download the ASCA app (itunes) or (google play) and check out the different sessions. Having a plan with where you are going will be helpful. I like to write down my sessions and attach them to the back of my name tag.