The NASFAA 2023 National Conference is just around the corner, and for many attendees, this will be their first time attending the annual gathering. Today’s News caught up with Brenda Burke, chair of the 2023 Conference Mentor Task Force, on what first-time attendees can expect this year.
NASFAA’s Conference Mentor program began in 2015 as a way to make attending the national conference a less overwhelming experience for first-timers, especially those attending the conference on their own.
Brenda highlighted some of the activities and experiences first time attendees will be able to partake in, beyond just sessions. Before the conference even starts, first-time attendees can join a NASFAA Slack community just for them (stay tuned for more details on this mid-May!). There’s also the kick-off networking event and dessert reception at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 29.
Read on to learn more about NASFAA’s 2023 National Conference and the first-time attendee experience!
TN: What work does the NASFAA Conference Mentor Task Force do and how does it impact NASFAA’s National Conference?
I think it goes back to the very core of what the task force mission is. Attending a NASFAA conference for the first time, and then by yourself, can be so overwhelming for anybody. The task force tries to bring first-time attendees together with conference mentors in a fun way to help connect with colleagues and make the experience more enjoyable so it's not as daunting and overwhelming. Over the years, mentors and mentees have had such a great experience, and they've found it so rewarding, and truly made lifelong friendships by it.
TN: What can first-time attendees expect at the NASFAA National Conference?
There's so much going on. We have some communications that will occur even before the conference starts. We're going to be doing a NASFAA community Slack channel for first-time attendees and answer some questions in advance before they get there. We're going to have the first-time attendee reception, where there will be fun activities planned to help make introductions to people and to get to know other first time attendees and their conference mentors. And then we'll just be communicating throughout the conference so first-time attendees feel connected and to know what's happening.
TN: Why should first-time attendees participate in this mentorship program?
The people are what make up the NASFAA community, and there's so much knowledge in the people around NASFAA. Everyone is so willing to give up their time and their knowledge. Whether it's making an introduction to somebody who you've always wanted to meet, or just having someone to go to a meal with or sit in the session with and ask, “How do you do this?” You're not alone in NASFAA. I think by attending the mentorship program, you'll develop that core group of people who you won't feel afraid to go out and ask questions to. You'll make lifelong friendships throughout the process.
TN: Why should NASFAA members serve as mentors in the program?
I've been thinking about this question, the why. And that reminds me of a Brené Brown video that I just recently listened to when I was traveling. So I'm going to try to paraphrase this, and I hope I don't butcher it. We in the profession all have a flame that burns within us about trying to give back to others, and with that servant-minded attitude being in the profession. And we all want to surround ourselves with others that have a similar light and flame. And when our friends and our colleagues' light is shining, we all want to say, “Oh my gosh, what a great light!” We want all of our friends to have a similar light, and we want to protect our light so our light keeps burning bright. The NASFAA community and network of friends is the way to make that happen. There's no better way to give back in the profession than to help the next person and keep their light in their flame burning bright.
TN: Is there a particular event or activity you’re most excited about that your task force has organized?
We're doing so many fun things. I don't know if I can name just one. For the first time ever we’re having a NASFAA community in Slack for first-time attendees. So that'll be a very cool experience where people can ask questions and meet new people in an unobtrusive way. But our icebreaker event at the mentor reception is always a fun time and a great way to meet new people and have a lot of fun. I don't know if I can name any one activity that I'm so excited about — I'm excited about it all.
The NASFAA 2023 National Conference in San Diego is quickly approaching, but it’s not too late to register! Be sure to use our resources to justify your attendance, and if you can’t join us in person, consider registering your office for the NASFAA Virtual Conference just two weeks later.
Publication Date: 5/3/2023