What to Expect at NACE15 if You’re a First-Timer

Debbie BolesDebbie Boles, Assistant Director, University of Oklahoma Career Services
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dboles/
Twitter: @breboles

In 2014, I attended my first NACE Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Although I have been working in higher education for 20+ years, it was my first year as a NACE member. As I prepare to attend the 2015 NACE Conference & Expo, I thought it might be nice to share some things that helped me at last year’s conference.

Remember: The conference will be what you make of it. If you take the opportunity to meet new people, learn new things, and gather ideas to bring back to the office, then that is what will happen.

Preparation: Promotional Materials, Maps, and Apps

When conference information is sent through the mail, I keep it handy to help me get organized. The registration information booklet for the 2015 NACE Conference & Expo includes a folded handout that provides key information regarding keynote speakers, great ideas in 15-minute SMARTtalks sessions, and new events that capture the latest innovations. It is important to read the brochures, access the online resources, and research the large variety of concurrent sessions.

Then, download the NACE15 Conference app to your phone. (You’ll find it in your app store. Search for NACE15.)

I learn as much as I can prior to the event in order to decide what I want to attend and to help me build a roadmap for my journey.

Determine which sessions are important for you to attend. Get to know the conference layout (there’s a conference map in the program and on the NACE15 app) so you can find your way around between sessions, but also because a session may change locations or be cancelled. Check the app often for updates. Each time you leave your room, check that you’re carrying your schedule, room key, and name tag. Do not leave your room without your map and your app.

Remember, be flexible and prepared, and have a backup plan.

Participation: Divide and Conquer

If this is your first NACE Conference, plan to attend the newcomers’ session and try to arrive early. If you are traveling with other newcomers or experienced conference attendees, divide up to meet new people.

If you are traveling with other staff from your office, divide the sessions and attend different sessions. Determine what is most important for you to attend, then spread out and cover more ground. Be prepared to report back to your group. Do not try to do everything.

Are you competitive?  Do you like to participate and win prizes?  Be your own private investigator.  Search within your conference information to find interesting challenges that take you outside your comfort zone.  If you are nervous, you will find comfort in numbers because you are not the only one that is doing something for the first time.  Take a chance, learn from others, and have fun while doing it.

Resources: What to Bring, Where to Go, What to Know

What is your learning style? Do you prefer to read about something or would you like to be able to see it, access it, and learn by doing?

Throughout the conference, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to see the latest career-related products and services in the Expo Hall. Take advantage of this! Pick up a brochure, watch a demonstration, or meet the people that work behind the scenes. The Expo Hall provides an interesting environment that combines rows of vendors with chances to win prizes, as well as a place to get a snack or eat a meal.

When attending sessions, ask questions. Introduce yourself to the presenters and other participants. Ask for a business card, website, or e-mail address, and when you return home, be sure you use this information to keep in touch.

Other Tips for First-Timers

Bring an umbrella, light jacket, and sunscreen. Remember phone chargers, medication, and comfortable shoes.

And finally, have some fun! Find a balance between doing everything and wishing you would have done more. Take a break every once in a while to meet new people. Think about what makes you more comfortable and then do something nice for someone else.

Make the most of your time and remember to drink lots of water. Hope to see you there.

Two Ideas for Helping Students Access LinkedIn

Kelli Robinson Kelli Robinson, career counselor, Central Piedmont Community College
Blog: http://blogs.cpcc.edu/careerservices
Twitter: @KelliLRobinson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/kellilrobinson

Social media has revolutionized how people engage in the world around them. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow users to connect with friends, share anecdotes and images, and receive up-to-the-minute information.

LinkedIn is the social media outlet designed to engage users in professionally-focused pursuits. When members create a substantial profile, join professional groups, start making contacts, and conduct a job search, it yields many career-related benefits. Career professionals know this.

At Central Piedmont Community College, the career services staff was having a hard time selling LinkedIn’s value to our students. Students are actively engaged on Facebook and Instagram, but spend little to no time on LinkedIn. We referenced LinkedIn in our Career Guide, distributed to hundreds of students each year. Career counselors spent numerous appointment hours demonstrating and explaining LinkedIn. But students still weren’t bothering.

LinkedIn seems to intimidate students. Creating an Instagram account and posting selfies is much more student-friendly. However, when students go to LinkedIn, they’re being asked to provide a career summary and create a professional headline. What’s a professional headline anyway? Students don’t view themselves as professionals yet. As one student asked, “doesn’t it make more sense to join LinkedIn when I actually am a professional?”

LinkedIn Learning Webinars do a fantastic job explaining how to create a LinkedIn profile and navigate the site. But if students aren’t visiting the site in the first place, they won’t know about the webinars. Additionally, students are more likely to connect with their college than an outside organization.

With this in mind, the CPCC career services team developed two avenues to introduce LinkedIn to our students:

1. Online Panopto video: A career counselor created a nine-minute Panopto video that helps students create a LinkedIn profile and explains LinkedIn’s features. Students can access the video from our website. Additionally, the video was e-mailed to CPCC faculty as a tool to use in their classrooms. When career counselors were invited to give classroom presentations, they showed highlights from the video when appropriate to the topic being presented.

2. Career Services LinkedIn Subgroup: Career services created a LinkedIn subgroup open to students, staff, faculty, alumni, and employers. The group’s purpose is to share career-related information. Much of the content consists of weekly posts from the CPCC Career Services blog, but members are welcome to post any career-related questions or information. The career services office promotes the subgroup through our office website, in classroom presentations, and in career counseling appointments.

Students who viewed the Panopto video and joined the LinkedIn subgroup found both beneficial. We continue to promote these outlets to the college community. If the trend continues, LinkedIn and social media will become a primary way students connect with employers. As I told the student who asked about waiting to join LinkedIn until he was a professional, “to become a professional, the time to start acting like one is now.”

On Thursday, NACE blogger Ross Wade will tackle “The Dreaded LinkedIn Summary” and offer tips to use with students. Find more information on how to use social media effectively with students, see the Social Media Guides on NACEWeb.

100 Days Until #NACE14!

Chaim ShapiroChaim Shapiro
Website: http://chaimshapiro.com/
Twitter: @chaimshapiro
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chaimshapiro

People seem to like even numbers. Logically, there is no reason why people feel a stronger connection to 100 versus 99 or 101, but no matter, because today marks 100 days until the NACE 2014 Conference in San Antonio.  If you are like me, you already have your countdown timer set (see here: http://bit.ly/NACE14_Countdown ) but, if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

The conference is YOUR opportunity to take an active role in charting the future of our profession.  It is your chance to engage and provide your feedback on all the major issues facing our profession (someone once made a GREAT video about that: http://youtu.be/wT1hxrz64R4).  There is also NO better time to meet your colleagues than at the conference.  It is the BEST networking event of the year. You can look for me, I will be wearing a VERY special hat in honor of my workshop: “Be the Davy Crockett of the LinkedIn Frontier! (My workshop focuses on what you need to know to empower your students to harness the full power of LinkedIn. Learn the inside tricks and tips to identify and engage decision makers who can act as the crucial link to sourcing and employment opportunities for your students.)

You might not want to tell your boss, but having attended numerous conferences, I can also attest that they are a LOT of fun, and there are plenty of opportunities to take in the local sights (although I hope my Chicago Blackhawks will be back in the Stanley Cup Championship, keeping me tethered to the TV at night).

The Early Bird Special ends on March 1.  February is that sneaky month with 28 days, so remember that March 1 is tomorrow!  Remember the Alamo and sign up today! http://naceweb.org/ConferenceExpo/register.htm

Career Coaching Notes: Social Networks Beyond Networking

Rayna AndersonRayna A. Anderson, Career Advisor at Elon University
Twitter: @Rayna_Anderson
LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/RaynaA
Blog: RaynaAnderson.wordpress.com

We are currently living in the instant information age: a time when we can learn anything with the simple click of a button. But with this more accessible knowledge comes the increased expectation for everyone to actively participate in information sharing. Social media users have become reporters, commentators, and critics of the most recent advances, so it’s no wonder why more and more people are taking to their social network accounts to learn the latest news. 

Not only has technology changed with way we communicate but it has changed the future of the U.S. workforce.  So much so, that it has been estimated as many as 65 percent of grade schoolers will go on to have jobs that do not yet exist. So what better way for college students to stay abreast of industry changes than by engaging in online career conversation! How many photographers would have been better prepared had they known that cell phones would someday include quality cameras? How about social media’s impact on news stations, magazines, and even the hospitality industry?

Beyond the celebrity stalking, hometown gossip, or superficial brown-nosing, social media can greatly impact a student’s chance to kick-start their career. These outlets provide, not only access to professional contacts, but also great opportunities to establish oneself as a knowledgeable and invested professional. Additionally, companies have come to value visionaries that can help keep their businesses afloat in changing tides. Participating in Twitter chats, sharing articles via Facebook, contributing to LinkedIn group discussions, and even blogging can be great ways for students to collect and contribute to useful information.

How often do you encourage students to use social media for career/industry education?