My experience at the NASPA Regional conference in Portland last year was a very fruitful one. I had signed up for the Women in Student Affairs mentoring program in which a seasoned professional met with me for an hour during the conference to listen to my experiences and offer feedback and guidance. My mentor was a VP from a large institution in Utah and our conversation was very helpful in inspiring ideas for internships and possibilities for foci in the field. I still remember our conversation and the advice my mentor gave me. And she was spot on too. I had sent her my SDA application essay in advance, so she could get a sense of my background.
I attended 4-5 sessions during the conference and these covered a diverse range of topics. I went to a session by Pacific Lutheran University that focused on theory to practice in their student leadership development institute. I was so impressed by this presentation, that I asked to be considered for an internship in the Student Activities and Leadership office at PLU. I ended up doing a 200 hour internship in student leadership at PLU this summer.
For me NASPA Regional conference was a great way to make connections with professionals in a wide array of institutions and offices, hear presentations on best practices and enjoy time with classmates. There are various receptions you can go to and one especially for graduate students with senior student affairs personnel. As someone who will be job hunting regionally I count this conference an important opportunity to meet potential employers and mentors in the field. I would highly recommend this experience. If you go as a first year student it is a great opportunity to attend a Student Affairs conference without the immediate pressure of the job hunt. I’ll be back at NASPA Regional conference this November in San Diego as part of a team of SDA students with Dr. Erica Yamamura, presenting research that connects student development theory to community engagement.