What was I thinking?
Was I really considering applying for a national scholarship to be a first-time conference goer while dealing with the recent loss of my husband? Could I honestly put my grief on the back burner and focus on my career right now? Apparently, I can, and I did, and I won. What an incredible gift during an incredibly difficult time in my life. But what a momentous occasion to attend the conference during my local chapters 50th anniversary (Seattle Chapter) and SDA’s 60th anniversary. It was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.
Overwhelmed with being a first-time attendee and a national scholarship winner, I braced myself for a mixed bag of scenarios that I’d need to process. I hoped this conference would give me the tools to move my career forward, the skills to take on new responsibilities, and the support to be successful. But I wasn’t on top of my “social game”, would that be ok? Would that even matter? I was going to learn, and take away knowledge – the timing was awful, but I did it, and I was headed to Spokane.
I had the privilege of participating on the Welcome Reception planning committee and working with Gretchen Renz and Emily Meyer of Bernardo|Wills Architects, our host office. I feel we all understood the importance of setting an exciting tone that would carry over to the rest of the conference. Our theme, The Great Pacific Northwest, welcomed other members from near and far, and extended a warm and welcoming night of great food, a beautiful space and fun activities.
I’ve always looked at my membership in SDA as a community of support, encouragement, opportunities to gain more knowledge and a chance to hone my skills; the conference did all that for me. I attended presentations that made me question what I know about writing for marketing purposes, the value of correct wording in your employee handbook and the eye-opening reality of phishing trends and company breaches.
Walking into the conference Friday morning, still with the excitement from the party the night before, I entered the Welcome Breakfast ready to learn, ready to make new connections and test the status quo on my current job position.
This speaker was spot on; Beth Hanishewski was presenting on Resiliency in the Real World. Her talk made you believe you could do anything; even during those trying times that may touch your firm, (and in real life). Resiliency was such a perfect topic to start the conference off on, as the hours ahead of us were bound to foster what we know, what we practice and how we would incorporate these new ideas into our work lives.
Her words impacted me greatly; they spoke to my position in my firm and the need to hang in there as I try and expand my duties and responsibilities. I must remember to be strong when things don’t look that way, when my growth isn’t happening in the time frame, I may want it to. Her words delivered an impressive theme of finding strength within yourself to overcome those obstacles that litter our paths.
I needed to hear her dialogue; wanted it to deliver the punch to motivate me forward. While SDA has always been about my career, this speaker’s articulation spoke to my personal being; what a great gift from SDA.
Things I wished happen at the conference this year, and hope to get implemented in future planning:
§ A short gathering of all new attendees before the conference begins. While Chapters “should” be making their new members feel welcome and answer any questions, it doesn’t always work out that way. Depending on how many people there are, it can last 15-30 min.
§ More diverse presentations. Some Admins don’t have responsibilities in HR, Finance or Marketing. Let’s embrace making these “front end” super stars count in their contribution to our firms.
Karyn Marks was the recipient of the 2019 Past Presidents Council (PPC) First Time Attendee Grant.
She is a member of the SDA Seattle Chapter.