I’ve been away for four days at the National Conference for Student Leaders in Boston, Massachusetts. I got back home today at noon and took a ridiculously long nap due to my roommates incessantly loud snoring (more on that later).
It all started when I signed up for the conference on the day of registration. I had been waiting forever for my job to approve me for vacation hours so that I could get approved time off to be able to take this trip since retail seems to assume that your weekends will forever belong to them for $8 a hour. They finally approved me ON THE DAY of the registration so I thought I was going to miss my chance to attend my first ever conference. I was very fortunate that I didn’t miss the boat!
Fast forward a little bit to 2 days before the conference and I’m starting to panic. I don’t know what to wear, where the conference is exactly, if people are going to carpool (since parking in Boston is incredibly expensive!), and what time we should get ready. Our advisor sends us a quick email addressing these concerns but nothing about carpooling. The thing is, we had briefly discussed carpooling at our Student Senate meeting a week prior to the event (which is way too late if you ask me) and everybody was complaining about how their cars were too small. Since I didn’t hear anything from anybody about it till the day of the conference I assumed we weren’t doing that and everyone was going to find their own way.
It’s the morning before the conference and I’m sleeping in till 10 because I feel like I have plenty of time to get some stuff ready. I didn’t realize how much stuff I’d really need until later and consequently I had to rush like a madman. It was incredibly hectic and stressful! I was running to the ATM to get cash for parking, I couldn’t find my card, then I headed home and I couldn’t find some other stuff and the whole morning was like this. Finally, I quickly pull up some directions and decide I’m going to take the train. If I park at the train station parking lot, it would only cost $3 a day for a total of $12 bucks total, way cheaper than the $32 a day price tag of the hotel parking. By this time it’s already 11:15 and I’m supposed to be on the train at 11:45. I have 30 minutes to drive 36 miles up to Brockton, find a parking spot, get on the train, and get my ticket all combined with the weight of 3 bags and a laptop computer that I have in my hand. This was a stupid idea to begin with but I wanted to do this train thing because it would save me a lot of money on parking and I wouldn’t have to worry about directions. I end up getting there 5 minutes to late and the train takes off. They next train isn’t till 1:18 and even the one that’s a few cities away takes off at 12:45 which would put me way past the time of my first keynote presentation.
Finally, I just decide to drive there and that’s when I see six missed calls and three texts from people who waited on me for 20 minutes asking if I wanted to carpool. Man, I was angry and embarrassed at the same time! Why the hell did they wait last minute to bring this up?! I thought we weren’t doing that because no one talked about it! This was surely a breakdown in communication. You don’t just tell people that last minute! As for feeling embarrassed, yeah, I felt awful. I kept these guys waiting for 20 minutes, while they kept calling me not knowing where I was. That’s incredibly embarrassing for anybody. You just end up looking like an asshole because of stuff like that.
Anyway, I’m driving along and things are going relatively well until my GPS keeps recalculating me. Like any big city, Boston keeps changing its street names and its landscape keeps changing so the GPS is freaking out. I’m trying to stay composed but eventually I’m just incredibly pissed at the city for being the cause of me being lost. Not student representative worthy behavior at all! I end up getting lost in the garage trying to find the exit and not having been in a garage in a while I didn’t realize that the exit would just take me down a level. The level you begin with is always the highest level and if you go up, you’re actually going down. I eventually make it to the lobby all flustered and angry and I go up to check-in, not realizing my advisor had already checked us in and gotten our keys. They told me they couldn’t find my reservation and I was about ready to go off on them. I finally see my advisor and the rest of my group, she hands me my key and I couldn’t be happier to just finally be in my bed. Turns out I wasn’t as late as I thought and I was able to join everyone for the keynote presentation.
So, now finally for the conference part, I really enjoyed all my seminars. Every one of the presentations were really inspiration and full of good information. One of them was called: The Single Technique to Improve College Success which taught us mindfulness training, which for those of you don’t know is composed of breathing exercises and exercises to separate your thoughts from your mind. Call it weird, but it takes a lot out of the equation when you don’t have to get distracted or bogged down by thoughts while you’re trying to listen or are working on something. This technique is used by large companies like Google and Intel.
Another seminar I attended was one by this presenter called Hoan Do. He was funny and spoke very well. He had two seminars, but one that I particularly enjoyed was called “How to Stop Setting Goals and Start Achieving Them.” One thing I really loved about that presentation was something he said and it went like this: “The point of a goal isn’t to achieve it, it’s the changes that happens as you put 100% into working towards it that matter. Achieving it is just an added benefit.” That really inspired me and some of the tips of setting goals like being very specific and using the analogy of a blurry picture and GPS were excellent. They really stuck in my mind.
I think the reason these seminars and this entire conference went so well was not only because they were very informative but because they were engaging. Every one of them had us doing activities, talking to other people, laughing, asking questions, and sharing ideas. I think they all did a really good job in keeping us prepared.
One thing I became ashamed about was my tardiness to a lot of the events due to me being confused as to where they were, being lazy in waking up, etc. That really must have looked bad and I felt like that was particularly embarrassing to myself and the school. I don’t want to put myself down or sound paranoid, but I honestly feel like some of my group mates must have said something about that among themselves. I don’t blame them.
Anyway, as for the reorganization part of this post. About a few months ago, me and these 2 computer science kids started this club called the BCC Technology Club (BCC standing for our community college). It would be open to all students and the open web (so anyone on the internet). We wanted to create a space of learning and helping each other where people could teach other technology stuff and make learning technology fun through several different activities and events. Fast forward to today and I’ve put in a good amount of work into the club and my other officers have been deadbeats. I took the position of treasurer out of respect for my friend who came up with the idea and because I think it would aid in my accounting experience for which I hope to get internships for in the future. I came so close to quitting the last few days but I never did because I truly believe in our mission. I wanted a club that would serve people and help people become more interested in technology and give them something they could take home with them. I wanted a club that members could truly put on their resumes. We’ve only had 2 events so far which were discussion based and none of them were remarkable. Our turnouts have been deplorable and by June, the Student Senate will be asking for a report on how many events we did and their turnouts. With so little events and turnouts, we could lose our funding. I feel like some of my other officers are sick of hearing this and think its a joke, but it’s really not. This whole club has come close to failing because of the members lack of motivation and participation and the same with my officers. The fucked up part is they both truly believe in the mission and want to help but they don’t take the actions necessary to do that. That’s what hurts me the most. So, I’ve called a meeting on Tuesday of this week with them and our advisor to reorganize. This reorganization might involved the removal of some officers and preparation of new ones. This might leave hard feelings with some people and that’s the last thing I want. But ultimately, it just boils down to business and they still have the ability to be kept on as members if they wish to contribute.
Overall, the conference was great and I learned a lot. I can’t wait to go to more.
As for the club, I hope to really see it succeed and help a lot of people at our school and wherever. I don’t want this idea to die.
**I’ll update this on the deets of the conference, my roommates, and all that jazz later in future posts**
Feel free to share any thoughts or comments on this particular post. If you are part of any student organizations on your campus, or if you are a leader of any sort or have ever started a club, I want to hear from you! What’s the most challenging part of your job? How do you get students to participate in activities you plan on having? How do you deal with difficult coworkers?