Desperately running through the Minneapolis airport to catch a flight, realizing three to a room wasn’t feasible in Chicago, being driven on a bicycle cart through the streets of San Diego dressed in Village People headgear, playing washboards in New Orleans, trying to pay a toll for the car behind us only to end up looking like something from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in Florida, being chastised by citizens in Seattle for jaywalking, learning that your friends totally had your back in Las Vegas, visiting Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, suffering through one operating elevator in Manhattan, exploring a haunted hotel in Chicago (and seeing a ghost😳), being drenched in torrential rains in D.C., and using a towel under my door as a ‘snake guard’ in Arizona. These are only a handful of memories from conferences I’ve attended. And of course, plenty of learning occurred too🙂.
It’s fun seeing the exciting hype SHRM18 bloggers are writing about leading up to the SHRM conference, and ALA’s annual conference is right around the corner. I’m heading to Ultimate Software’s Ultimate Connections conference next week. Conference attendance has been a big part of my life and has enriched my career more than I can adequately portray. My first conference was an HR/Payroll conference and it hooked me. I remember preparing a recap of sessions attended and what I got out of them for my bosses after the first two conferences. They told me the recaps were nice but not necessary – they understood the value of learning.
The support of my ambitions and continual learning from them and my firm has been priceless. It has led to tremendous personal and professional growth and increased job satisfaction. It has provided me opportunities to get involved in leadership and make connections across the globe. It has made me a better leader and employee and it can do the same for you if you want it enough.
While I have plenty of fun at conferences, I have never taken my firm’s investment in me for granted. I get full days of sessions in, and keep meal and transportation costs reasonable. My rule of thumb is to not order or pay for something I wouldn’t spend my own money on.
If you’re considering whether a conference is worth it, my advice is just do it, understanding that you will get out of it what you put into it. Expect to learn something and you will. Expect to meet people and keep those connections going and you will. Expect that no matter your experience level, there’s always an idea or practice you can bring back to your organization, and you will. Expect to have fun and you will.
Now go do it.