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Why go to a professional conference?

Augsburg students attended the 2020 United States Hispanic Leadership Institute in Chicago and Barbara Sabino Pina offers this reflection on the importance of professional conferences for students.

Augsburg students at the 2020 USHLI conference.
Augsburg students at the 2020 USHLI conference.

Written by:
Barbara A. Sabino Pina
Class of 2023
She/her/hers
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Psychology

 

Attending events such as conferences, seminars, symposiums, workshops, among others, present two great opportunities for your professional life: updating knowledge and networking.

Staying abreast of new trends in your professional field is more than essential in this globalized era where everything is constantly changing and innovating. Attending events with professionals from your industry and all over the country and from other countries and world gives you a great opportunity to expand your network of professional contacts. Aspects such as networking and efficient contact management are essential tools today to evolve as a professional.

Our success as professionals depends on two factors:

  1. Your own knowledge and experience
  2. Your ability to relate to people, inside and outside your company, job, and/or school.

Here come into play conferences and specialized professional events that reveal the main industry news on which the theme of the event deals and where the vast majority of attendees are professionals from the same sector.

Networking

One of the first reasons why you should attend a conference is networking.

As a collaborative culture, creating professional synergies through networking is one of the main reasons to attend a conference. These types of events usually include a networking time which was the case at the USHLI Conference. You can also take advantage of the breaks between the presentations to make new contacts. It is a perfect opportunity to generate leads and meet potential partners, event sponsors, or future employers.

Learn from great professionals

Another reason why you should attend a conference is to learn from great professionals. Rubbing shoulders with professionals is easy at a conference. Normally, these events are attended by speakers of great national and international prestige, giving you the opportunity to learn from their experiences and advice and use it to your advantage.

Meet the competition

Another of the great advantages of attending a conference is that the most influential people in the sector are concentrated in one place. Pay attention to their presentations, if they attend as speakers, or try to strike up a conversation with them to learn more about their business and strategy. These speakers most likely attract attendees who are seeking similar job opportunities or business opportunity which gives you a chance to meet and analyze your competitors. The more you know the more you can stand out above the rest.

Career focused

If you are a student, school is only a part of what you need to be thinking about, you also need to be thinking about your professional career. As students we must do well at school, and it is easy to get stuck in our routines and focused solely on our academics.  Professional events are you’re a way to shake this up and get out of your routine and out of your comfort zone. It is a great way to refresh your mind and bring up new ideas.

Conferences cover the latest topics in specific sectors. So if you want to be aware of the latest news, there is no better place than this. You will know all the current and future trends and how to put them into practice in your own career. Although it may seem very obvious, take note of the most important aspects of each presentation. Also, ask without fear anything that you do not see clearly or that you think can help you. Take advantage of the fact that there are professionals in the room, take advantage of their experience and knowledge, and apply them to your situation.

Build a community

Finally, attending a conference is a good way to develop positive relationships with other people. Good relationships are fundamental to your professional journey and the work you do. It is necessary to understand that each of us is part of a whole and that if someone fails, this will affect the overall result that will be presented at the end of the project. In conferences you often have the opportunity to work with other people, and participate in activities that will require you to work as part of a team instead of as an individual. This is great practice for how you might operate on a team in your future job.

 

This professional opportunity for Augsburg students was supported by the Strommen Center for Meaningful Work and a grant through the Wells Fargo Foundation.