In our field, there are seasons… August thru October is evil season, May-June is the time of hellos and goodbyes (hello to parents, goodbye to seniors)… and for many, spring is conference season, because that is when most of the bigger national/international conferences host.
But, weirdly for me, and especially now with my responsibilities here at MIT, late fall is the talking season for me. And by talking season, I mean conference season. In my first full professional year here in Boston, I have a busy fall full of talking… which is not always my most comfortable state.
We recently linked up YouTube to our PS3, and so we are going through all of our subscriptions, favorites, etc. and laughing all the way. We rewatched one of my favorite videos from PicnicFace today, who are the Canadian comedians who brought you PowerThirst. The skit is called Powerpoint Meltdown, and it signifies a lot of what I feel about talking season.
First of all, we have all or all will have a presentation like this, where the fates and planets align, where we are stuck, and we look to the words or pictures on screen and hope for the best. Whether it is panicked adlib, or you just have to read off your slides, it will happen, and that’s ok. Don’t fear it, which has been something that has taken me quite awhile to fully understand and embrace.
My professional association involvement has been marked by lots of volunteering in whatever form I could… because honestly, I cannot go to something (where nowadays, I am often a delegation of one) and not be busy or doing something or not be responsible for something. Volunteering allows me that opportunity to engage on a deeper level, and to avoid just sitting around, which is not bad in my mind because it’s ‘lazy’ or anything, but because I think too much, and I think even more when not engaged in something and not chatting with someone. In addition to volunteering though, and different from what I would usually think with being an introvert, is I try to present at every conference I go to.
I enjoy it, because I don’t present on something unless I am really all about it, and so I know that I can speak with confidence and can engage in thoughtful discussion without feeling inadequate or out of place.
I actually really enjoy discussing the things I present on, whether it is digital identity, internationalization, footy and Star Trek, or the next step our profession can take to make itself better.
This is also something I really advise grad students to do whenever I get the chance to chat with them about professional development. Pro Dev dollars are getting rarer and rarer, and so you really have to find a way to make every cent and minute count, in your own way. Mine is volunteering and presenting – it allows me to have discussions that I ‘know’ I can contribute to and builds my confidence as a professional while building my professional network. For others, it may not be presenting, and that’s fine, but it helps to really take time to figure it out for yourself, whether it be a leadership position, crafting case studies for undergrads, or serving and planning to be a conference or unconference host in the future. Find what works – it’s your professional development, and that’s all that matters.
So for me, especially this year, fall is talking season, which is important to me, because I really like to dissect the things I’m talking about, parse out details, rearrange them. My semester is by no means over at MIT, but the bulk of my events are past me, and the focus is on next semester and on revisiting and reflecting on this semester to see what I and we could do better.
Here are some of the things I’m presenting on this fall:
ACUI Region 1 Conference: Balancing Popularity and Diversity in Programming, Intent v. Impact: Words Matter, The (Soccer) Field of Student Affairs w/ Gavin Telfer (SNHU)
HigherEd OpenMic: It’s a Trap: Making Student Affairs Better
Leadership Talk at Southern New Hampshire U: Digital Identity
ACUI Region 1 Brown Bag Chat: Holidays in the Union
Prep for MIT Multicultural Conference: Digital Identity Development and Intent v. Impact: Words Matter