By Amelia Howe
Sustainability Associate, Environmental Communications
There are many benefits that come from attending an educational conference. As a student in particular, you will have much to gain from these events. You are taking your first introductory steps into an industry, and in these beginning stages will be able to absorb knew knowledge, be inspired by your peers, and meet people who have the potential to change your future for the better.
Attending a large international conference like Greenbuild as a student is an eye-opening experience. It introduces you to new concepts and ideas; from industries you never knew existed, to having the first look into this year’s newest technology being showcased in the exhibition hall. Not only are you introduced to these new exciting things, but the leaders of industry are teaching your educational sessions, and the technological innovators are standing next to their exhibit ready to answer questions and enlighten you further.
Through each educational session, and conversation held with a new acquaintance, the knowledge being absorbed will be sure to inspire new ideas within yourself. Many attendees you meet around tables during sessions or grabbing a bite to eat, are creative minds full of ideas of how to move the green building industry closer to success. Being surrounded by people with similar passions working within your industry is a powerful thing. The conversations had with these newfound acquaintances will offer an unconventional kind of educational session. It will move you to become the next genius innovator, builder or educator of your generation. The whole experience will leave you feeling inspired to say the least, and ready to take your fresh ideas back to the office or the classroom.
Not only will you leave the conference feeling inspired, but you will leave with a handful of business cards. Small, 3 ½ by 2 inch pieces of cardstock that could possibly lead you to an open door full of opportunity. These cards may have been handed to you across the table of an educational session or over a cup of coffee in the lobby; with a proper follow-up email, that card may have solidified your next internship. The job market is extremely competitive, and every contact matters when it comes to building your network, you never know, the man or woman sitting next to you at lunch may be able to help you find the job you are looking for. Not only could a potential job opportunity arise from expanding your network, but it opens additional lines of communication with potential mentors and colleagues who could share information regarding what particular companies are looking for, and if they know of an employer looking for someone with your skill set.
Everyone attending university has heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” a thousand times over. It is extremely important to build your network in a competitive job market, and attending a conference is an opportune time to do so. As a student, you will leave the doors of an educational conference with a brain full of new, exciting knowledge, armed with passion-driven inspiration, and a handful of new contacts. All that you are certain to gain attending a conference will push you that much closer to the career you are searching for.