Connecting with KCs
As I walked into the Marriott ballroom in Baltimore, MD on a cold and snowy March morning in 2014, I had no idea what to expect. I was attending my first NASPA Annual Conference as a new professional. I found myself navigating my way through the blustery streets of the Charm City as someone who just finished a grueling interview schedule at TPE, was on the hunt for a new position, and was relatively new to the association.
As I sat down at a roundtable for my first Latina/o Knowledge Community (LKC) General Assembly, I quickly introduced myself to the only other person at my table—the Vice President of Student Affairs at Washington State University. This simple introduction has led me to where I am today. Had I not attended this meeting, I would never had heard about the job that I would soon apply to and receive at Washington State University, never would have become involved in the LKC, and never would have become involved with NASPA at a regional level.
This serendipitous introduction of a new professional to a Vice President of Student Affairs is one of the quintessential reasons why folks need to connect with the Knowledge Communities during the Annual Conference.
Knowledge Communities can make what would ordinarily be an overwhelming conference experience far more intimate and inviting.
These groups are where many of our colleagues find their true home and why they keep coming back, year after year, to engage with the colleagues. Knowledge Communities exist to not only create and share knowledge, but to also create a sense of belonging in the larger association. Each Knowledge Community plays an integral role in the overall trajectory of the association as well. Connecting with Knowledge Communities during the Annual Conference is one way to Here are three tips to connect with Knowledge Communities to make your visit to Austin even more memorable.
ATTEND THE KNOWLEDGE COMMUNITY FAIR
If you are new to NASPA and have not yet figured out which of the 36 Knowledge Communities are right for you, then I recommend visiting the Knowledge Community and Graduate School Fair. This event is similar to a student organization fair on your college campus, with Knowledge Communities vying for your attention with varying levels of free goodies.
I recommend going around and visiting with those that peak your interest. Are you looking for something around social identities or functional area? Are you looking for a niche group or something broad? Once you have determined who you will visit, go around and talk with the representatives. Sign up to learn more about them. Make an initial connection with someone from that group to have a coffee with at a later time during the conference.
READ THE KNOWLEDGE COMMUNITY PUBLICATION & ATTEND SPONSORED SESSIONS
Each year, all 36 Knowledge Communities work to produce a Knowledge Community Publication, the sharing of knowledge to the larger profession. These pieces highlight valuable and timely knowledge around pressing topics in our field. Some of the articles contain emerging trends and promising practices from the field, new research on salient topics and helpful advice from veteran administrators. This publication dovetails well with the KC Sponsored Sessions throughout the conference. Many of the KCs sponsor up to three educational programs that tie directly to their mission. Attend one of the educational sessions. Some KCs even sponsor Pre-Conferences. Take a look to see if your favorite KC is sponsoring a pre-conference.
ATTEND KC MEETINGS AT #NASPA2020
All KCs have open general body meetings where they discuss general business. During this time, some KCs present their annual awards while others use this as a networking opportunity to engage with each other. These KC general body meetings are the best opportunity to make long-lasting connections with fellow peers. It is also a great way to see if you may be interested in volunteering in the long-run with the Knowledge Community, as the KCs are all volunteer-ran. Use these meetings to expand your network. Introduce yourself to your table-mate. You never know if that person might be the reason why you get that next job!