It’s that time of year again! All International Education roads lead to NAFSA’s Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado. As the Big Blue Bear peers in, study abroad advisors, third party providers and eager job seekers gather to discuss hot topics in the field. It’s an exciting (and exhausting) week for all attendees and exhibitors. Unfortunately, however, not everyone can make the arrangements to attend—present company included. But don’t despair! There are still several ways to stay connected to NAFSA peers despite the distance.
1) Use an app like the one at tagboard.com to follow social media posts including common hashtags like (#NAFSA2016 and #notatNAFSA2016). You can build your own tag board for free or simply use your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account to like/share/retweet messages that strike a chord with you. It is a great way to keep up with what is going on.
2) While making your tag board, start another list of some of the top online contributors during the week. Begin to follow them on social media. Then, after the conference, make a point to introduce yourself and ask about their impressions of the conference. This field is largely about who you know so use your networking skills to your advantage to position yourself for the job search.
3) Peruse the list of sessions on the NAFSA Annual Conference website to identify which topics are most prevalent. Then spend the week researching trends in those areas. Read material from Frontiers, the Forum on Education Abroad or the NAFSA blog, among sources so that you can engage others in online discussions or via informational interviews with authority. Engage in any “live” conversations on such topics that you can find on Facebook and other live streaming services too!
4) It is never too early to plan for next year. Start developing a financial plan that allows you to attend a regional conference later in the year. Or save on a bigger scale to attend NASFA 2017 in Los Angeles!
So don’t get down on yourself if you were unable to attend the 2016 Annual Conference (for whatever reason). Just follow these tips and by the time the next conference rolls around you will be an International Education pro even if you are a first-time conference attendee!
About the Author: Julie Parenteau, PhD is an interculturalist of all trades and self-proclaimed AmeRican. By day she teaches and trains expatriates and local employees how to thrive culturally and linguistically in Puerto Rico, while by night she salsa dances her way through half time of the Green Bay Packers games. With more than a decade of experience spanning intercultural training and education, teaching English and Spanish, and helping dozens of expatriates adjust to living in Puerto Rico, Julie knows what it takes to build communication bridges between cultures and engage students and faculty in critical discourse surrounding social justice and diversity and inclusion issues. As Director of Global Perceptions, Julie is committed to designing curriculum and training programs that foster cultural awareness and global citizenship in Puerto Rico and beyond. When she is not hard at work, you can find her working in her garden, playing with her rescue dogs or doing some beachfront reading. Connect with her via Twitter @drjparenteau.