Navigating #NASPA2020 as an Introvert
#NASPA2020 is almost here and with it comes all the feels!
Some folks are excited about the opportunities to meet up with friends and colleagues from all over. Others are looking forward to connecting with thoughtful leaders in the field on issues pressing in their communities. Meanwhile, some of us are anxious as we sort through the countless sessions and opportunities that NASPA has to offer. Never fear, here are a few simple ways to make this experience worthwhile and shake that overwhelmed feeling.
Download the App
Navigating NASPA can be tricky regardless of how many years you’ve been attending, and one thing veteran conference-goers and event planners know is things change! To keep up with room changes, cancellations, or additions, the app is the best way to stay in the know! It even provides an easy way to keep up with all the amazing connects you’ll no doubt be making the next few days. One more tip, grab all the chargers! Cellphone/laptop/tablet/headphones—whatever they are, they’ll need a charge. NASPA days are long and sometimes traveling back to the room isn’t the move because you know, FOMO.
Of course, the app is the obvious one, but how do you make the most of NASPA? How do you decide when to attend the workshop, grab coffee with colleagues, visit the vendor fair, attend a knowledge community meeting, or catch up with your cousin twice removed who lives in the city, participate in a campus tour, or even eat lunch?
Well, I think in this case there are two types of people. Some plan every minute. Now if this is you, you generally already know this is you because every vacation you’ve taken has been planned down to the minute with color-coded agendas. You are going to do everything you set out to do and make every minute count. On the other hand, if just reading that sounds like too much work, a more laid back approach is likely what you’re looking for. An easy solution: make a goal each morning to accomplish something from your list. This is important if you have specific deliverables you must bring back to your campus upon your return. You can schedule your sessions while simultaneously keeping your schedule free enough to perhaps meet up with your NASPA mentor or to get involved in your region by attending a meeting.
Attend the opening session
The NASPA opening session sets the tone for the conference. The energy in the room when you bring thousands of student affairs pros together to celebrate the work we do for our students, to challenge ourselves in our work, to learn about the cutting-edge research in the field is like nothing else.
Make time for reflection
NASPA can sometimes have the New Student Orientation effect where you absorb so much information that your brain literally can’t handle it anymore. So, take some time to do something for yourself to prevent information overload. Perhaps join the early morning running group, visit the sensory room, or do a little yoga. Looking for something a bit more extraverted? Schedule some time with colleagues to share ideas over a mid-afternoon snack. Stop by the bookstore for the book signing and meet the author from the awesome session you attended. You may even connect! Try to take advantage of the vast opportunities offered through your NASPA conference experience, and enjoy the beautiful city of Austin!
Bonus tip: There’s a saying down here: “Don’t like the weather in Texas? Just wait a minute, it’ll change.” We know you have a saying like that where you’re from too, right? Yeah, global warming. Regardless make sure to remember that we are known for our heat even in March. Always check the weather and bring layers. Otherwise, you may find yourself sweating in your sweater as a sweet southern belle passes you by saying, “bless your heart.”