Thursday, May 13, 2010

Conference Tips for NAFSA Newbies

Today I pleased to have a second guest post here on IHEC Blog by Frank Merendino.  You can read Frank's previous post "Twitter + NAFSA's Advocacy Day: A Perfect Match" here.

I am a recent newbie myself (DC 2008) so hopefully my perspectives will be useful to newcomers and it is possible some experienced NAFSAns may benefit from this advice as well.

I.         I.  Seek the wisdom of the silver-haired NAFSANs--Someone told me this in DC and it was great advice. I sat down next to silver-haired woman for lunch, struck up a conversation, and the next thing I knew I had an invitation to be picked up in a limo and driven to the George Washington Masonic National Memorial for a private tour and five-star dinner that night (all free!). Fantastic experience.
II.       Take time to breathe--There is a lot going on and it can be overwhelming. Try to soak in as much networking, time in the expo hall, and attending sessions that you can handle, but don’t be afraid to take an hour off here and there to collect your thoughts and relax.
III.     Take part in the social events at night--NAFSA national is a great opportunity to network with colleagues and meet new people and sometimes the best way to do this is over a drink after all the sessions have ended. Make friends with people working the booths at the expo hall to find out where the “scene” is each night.
IV.    Utilize something you learned--Whether it is from a stellar session you attended or from an interesting conversation with a colleague about best practices, capitalize on the revitalized feeling you have when you return to work and implement a new idea. Change is good.
V.      Have fun!--This is your conference experience so make the best of it. If it’s your first time I recommend attending a wide variety of sessions to gain a better understanding of the field in general. It will help you become a better professional throughout your career if you know what other people involved in different areas of international education do on a day-to-day basis...and you might make some new friends along the way too.

I will be presenting with colleagues on Going Green in International Offices on Wednesday, June 2 at 8:00am. If you can fit it into your schedule we would love to have you!


Frank J. Merendino
NAFSA Region VI State Rep-Ohio
International Student Advisor
Miami University

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