ACPA Thoughts – The Convention

Darren Pierre
University of Maryland

I remember vividly my first experience at ACPA’s annual convention last spring in Nashville. In a way, I see my, now two, convention experiences as markers on my time in graduate school. My first annual meeting came with the excitement of both attending my first national convention and coordinating a large scale trip with members of my Master’s cohort. This was a feat to say the least! This past year’s convention came with the similar excitement of the first, but this time it was nervous excitement with ideas fluttering in my mind that my future employer may be among the participants.

I arrived at Placement on Friday afternoon after touring parts of Indianapolis such as Founder’s Row which houses several national and international fraternity and sorority headquarters. The Placement volunteers were very friendly, which was no different than many of the other Association members I had had a chance to meet. Like many of my colleagues, I did the internal debate “should I or should I not go through Placement orientation?” I made the wise decision to take a tour of placement and found the chance to interact with other excited (and nervous) candidates rewarding. Each of us practiced our career counseling skills on one another which proved very beneficial in the interview process.

I enjoyed speaking with potential employers who hailed from New York to Washington. Hearing employers speak from a diverse set of institutions but sharing similar stories of the rewarding experience they have had with students was phenomenal. The days were long in the Placement, but it gave me a better understanding of what previous candidates referred to as the adventures in Placement.

When I first began setting up interviews for the conference, I made the deliberate decision to limit my interviews so I could enjoy the conference experience. I attended a great session on social justice in higher education. With the help of two colleagues in the field I was able to present a session at ACPA on navigating your way in the field of higher education. The room I presented in was full of new professionals like me sharing similar experiences about their first formative years in higher education.

When I attend ACPA, I don’t just enjoy it for the informative sessions and educational speakers, but also the chance to reconnect with others in the field. I have heard others speak about that the annual Convention as a place where long lasting friendships are built. I agree. I suppose one of the underlying benefits that should be part of ACPA’s mission is my belief that in the work the Association does, the organization actually creates a group of friends centered around the professional ideals of bettering the collegiate experience. Whether it was conversing with friends or strangers about job interviews, or having follow-up conversation over coffee about an intriguing speaker, the annual Convention has proven for two years now to be a rewarding experience. I look forward to sharing again at the 2007 Convention. See you in Orlando!

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