When You Can’t Go to the Conference

It’s that time of year again. Conference season. At least it’s conference season in the world of Higher Education. The last two years I have had the privilege to attend the ACPA National Convention in Baltimore and Louisville. It’s four days that are kind of intense, and wonderful at the same time. It’s a time for connecting, idea-making, and knowledge soaking. When I was at Louisville last year, I already knew that I wouldn’t be able to take in this year’s national convention in Las Vegas. In the first year of working in my current office, they sent me to two national conferences (ACPA and the Global Internship Conference). I didn’t feel that I right to ask to be sent to another national conference during my 2nd year. I wanted my coworkers to have the opportunity to attend something on the national level – if they so desired. Plus, let’s be honest, money is always a factor when it comes to professional development. Especially if the opportunity is at the national level. The other motivation I had about being okay with skipping this year, that I’d be attending in 2014 in Indianapolis – whether or not my office footed the bill.

My name badge with some flair. I loved the Twitter buttons best!

My name badge with some flair. I loved the Twitter buttons best!

Now that ACPA 2013 is upon us, I’m bummed I’m not going. Bummed might not be the right word. Nostalgic might be better. Yeah, I’ll go with nostalgic. I’m excited to take in ACPA through the backchannel via social media. What’s the backchannel? All the people tweeting throughout the conference. All I have to do is pull up the #ACPA13 hashtag on Twitter and I can see everyone tweeting what they are learning in various sessions. I’m even going to mark off some time on my calendar this week just to soak in the backchannel. It won’t be as great as being there, and it will make do. I’ll still learn. I’ll still be able to come up with new ideas. Heck, I’ll probably still be able to connect with people, just virtually.

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I will also put this piece of information out there, I’ve had some fairly decent professional development opportunities this year. I’ve taken in a few webinars and am signed up for a few in the coming months. Plus, on the web, there’s always social media. And, I’ve gone local. I belong to several community and state organizations, and have attended, presented at, and will be attending conferences or meetings, this year. I’m also incredibly excited to start training in April for a diversity certification offered through my campus.

I guess that that’s the point of this post. Just because you can’t go to one specific national conference, it doesn’t mean that you can’t engage professional development. Seek out other opportunities. Your professional development is whatever you make it, no matter your profession.

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