When in NOLA

Listen.

There are so many opportunities to network at the American Marketing Association International Collegiate Conference and it starts with listening.

When in New Orleans, Louisiana – or anywhere else in the world, the most important thing you can do is listen. Listen to the conference hosts, key note speakers, individual session speakers. Hear their enthusiasm, their interest, and their passion. Listen to the locals. Where to go, what to do, how they feel, why they live there.

This experience was more than educational while sitting in the sessions, understanding the importance of what the keynote speakers were saying, but also learning a culture. Many people, especially millennials, are eager to travel the world. To go to Ireland, Australia, Germany; and learn a different way of life. This trip has opened my eyes to the variety of culture in our own nation. From what they eat (craw dads) to what they do for fun (play music on the streets). It’s a different way of life and it’s important to listen and learn.

Ask questions.

Students should stay after the individual sessions and ask as many questions as possible. If there is an opportunity, you should always ask for contact information from speakers for any future questions and to simply say thank you. Speakers at individual sessions are passionate about what they do and students should take advantage to learn as much as possible and create international connections. Keep in touch with the people you meet and maintain the relationship, it can only benefit your future career to have these connections.

Although the conference is where students meet professional contacts, it’s important to ask questions when traveling too. Ask the Willie’s Chicken Shack cashier how they are, if they live around the area, if they enjoy it. Listen to their experiences and get to know the locals. These personal relationships are going to be extremely memorable and valuable when reflecting on the culture in New Orleans.

I cannot fail to mention the connection with thousands of intelligent international students. When attending this conference, the strongest ties that will be created are with other students from around the world. These are some of the most involved and experienced people your age, in your field. Many students volunteer to help with the registration for the various competitions. When I was waiting for one of our club members to finish her final round in the sales competition, I sat down and talked to one of the volunteers. She was from Texas and her story was fascinating. She has an internship at Amazon and plans to work there after her graduation in May. We later connected on LinkedIn and she is an invaluable contact and friend. These are the types of relationships that students can develop and grow, which is essential to their network.

Out of the many individual sessions during the conference, the one that stood out most to me was from a young girl who was on the data analytics team for the Detroit Red Wings. The analytical aspect was interesting, but her passion for sports and collection and manipulation of information was admirable. To see how excited she was about turning data from parking spots into an organized application that assigns parking spots ahead of time was inspirational. For me, I did not realize if I should go into analytics or not during that session, but rather, I found the importance of finding my passion. Listening and taking notes of her path that lead her to her passion was much more beneficial than noting what analytics entails. You can Google what is involved in a data analytics job, but you can’t Google passion and experience.

These are the aspects of traveling that are often taken for granted. Listen, ask questions, and learn as much as possible.

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