Archive for the 'Young Professionals' Category

30
Aug
16

Associations play an important role in higher education

Higher-EducationWhen I graduated college 16 years ago, times were different. I had a job before graduation and I never questioned the value of my degree. While I had an internship, the focus then on skills (vs. education) wasn’t nearly as strong. Today, students need internships before entering the workforce.

And then comes the price tag. My son is a freshman this year and soon, we’ll be looking at colleges. As some of you may know, I work at a university (in addition to my Event Garde role), so I live and breathe higher education. Yes, it’s expensive. And yes, it’s worth it.

But when I see students struggling to make ends meet and their parents sacrificing to pay tuition, it’s a scary thought: What will happen?

We’re facing a student debt crisis. Recent college graduates are saddled with thousands of dollars in debt and many can’t find a job, let alone start a career. So what should we do?

The answer may lay in associations, according to Elizabeth Weaver Engel, chief strategist for Spark Consulting, and Shelly Alcorn, principal for Alcorn Associates Management Consulting, who just released, “The Association Role in the New Education Paradigm.”

Educators should develop a better understanding of what students need to be learning, and then connect those learning outcomes to employment, they said. According to their research, students and employers agree on the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace: critical thinking, problem solving, oral and written communications, teamwork, ethical conduct, decision-making and the ability to apply knowledge.

However, there’s a huge divide in the readiness of such skills. Many employers report not finding such skills in recent college graduates because earning a degree doesn’t necessarily teach them.

But with credentialing programs, MOOCs, conferences and other online offerings, associations can fill the skills gap.

“With an education system that is being disrupted, college students graduating with degrees that fail to provide them practical job skills and more adult and nontraditional learners than ever, associations stand at a crossroads,” Engel and Alcorn wrote. “There are enormous needs we can meet: creating high-quality, competency based education; fostering social learning; and providing clear pathways to employment for students, the long-term unemployed, returning veterans or those individuals who are about to see their jobs significantly affected by the rise of automation and artificial intelligence. It’s a big opportunity and a big challenge.”

CBEOne example: competency-based education. Students drive their own pace of completion through a program’s curricular courses or modules by demonstrating competencies through learning exercises, activities and engaging experiences. CBE creates opportunities for digital badges, certification and micro-credentials to visually demonstrate ongoing growth and professional development for adult learners who seek career opportunities and advancement without waiting for completion of a terminal degree as the only signal of qualifications for employment.

“CBE offers the flexibility that could bridge the job-skills gap between employers and those who seek employment in professions that are rapidly evolving,” said Tracy Petrillo, chief learning officer for EDUCAUSE. “Because the learning can occur in varied settings and forms, individuals are not restricted by course schedules and access to programs. New business models are emerging, focused on making CBE programs affordable and on filling needs that are not currently well served through traditional post-secondary models.”

In addition, associations represent every industry and therefore can offer college graduates a pipeline to employers. Associations provide niche education – via credentialing and certification – something most grads won’t have entering the market.

But associations should move quickly, while the landscape is changing, Engel said.

“We have a rapidly closing window of opportunity here,” she said. “For-profits and venture capitalists see a $1.23 trillion market (the current level of student debt in the U.S.) and they aren’t going to sleep on that opportunity forever. (Indeed, the whitepaper covers some of the early moves companies are making into “our” space.) We have other advantages they’ll have a hard time duplicating, but we shouldn’t use that as an excuse to waste our first-mover edge.”

The whitepaper offers seven keys to the shift in thinking, which I encourage you to read in detail (page 28) and offers suggestions for conducting workplace analysis (pages 28-29).

At the same time, Engel and Alcorn offer some tips for associations to take the next step in the educational spectrum:

  • Clearly define educational competencies needed, including soft skills
  • Clearly define career pathways
  • Consider alternative delivery methods and new technologies
  • Offer micro-credentialing and badging
  • Offer blended learning environments
  • Professionalize content development and delivery
  • Provide quality certification programs
  • Create effective alliances

“The education-to-employment system is broken and we need to understand why and what we can do to help,” Alcorn said. “There is a symbiotic relationship between education (acquisition of knowledge and skills), employment (economically rewarded activity) and living a ‘good life’ (an ethical, spiritually rewarding existence as individuals and as a collective). After all of the research we have done, we believe the current system may have been sufficient for the 19th and 20th centuries, but not the 21st. We can do better.”

Finally, some advice for millennials reading this:

Shelly img 26 large“You have personal power and more options than you have ever had. You are just at the beginning of an exciting and accelerating lifelong learning process. Focus on developing competencies required by a new employment sphere. Mix and match educational opportunities. Maybe a formal degree will give you the competencies you desire, maybe not. Maybe a certification can get you working while you pursue other educational avenues. Try MOOCs or coding camps. Try it all. The most important thing is to find and maintain a balance between education broad-based enough to help you build the trans disciplinary muscle you need to understand the interplay between systems, and education designed to help you develop a deep expertise in an area you find compelling or personally rewarding.”

– Shelly Alcorn

Elizabeth Engel

“Don’t discount the value of higher education, but also realize that it’s not job training (and it’s not designed to be), and it’s not necessarily the only way in to your desired career field. Consider all your options, including the education and professional development associations can provide. And if the association in your desired career field isn’t meeting your career and professional development needs, don’t walk away – kick a fuss! Get involved! Agitate for change!

– Elizabeth Weaver Engel

30
May
16

Bonus content – Event Garde e-news – June edition

Killips.Shana-1

Shana Killips, sales manager, The James B. Henry Center for Executive Development

Q & A with Shana Killips, sales manager, The James B. Henry Center for Executive Development, Michigan State University

Q: Learn: What’s your favorite part about learning something new?
A: The people and our relationships are what I enjoy the most about my job. Learning something new allows me to be creative in finding solutions for my clients and it helps me to see new perspectives and better relate to my clients and my world. It enriches my relationships.

Q: Network: What’s your No. 1 networking trick?
A: I ask a lot of questions in an effort to learn about the person with whom I’m networking. I like to learn about their interests, their challenges and their passion projects and then relate them to my experience by asking questions and sharing stories.

Q: Transfer: How do you think mentorship aids in knowledge transfer?
A: I have had formal and informal mentors who have helped me at each stage of my career. The experience, stories and advice they share are a transfer of knowledge. The goal is to learn from each other so that we don’t have to learn every lesson ourselves. Imagine how long it would take to collect enough experiences to learn every lesson independently!

Q: What’s your favorite summer vacation spot?
A: Anywhere I can glide across a lake on my stand-up paddle board.

Q: Chocolate, strawberry or vanilla ice cream, and why?
A: Yes! Why limit yourself?

17
May
16

Creating Conscious Meetings

Holly

Holly Duckworth

This month’s guest blog post is by Holly Duckworth, a keynote speaker and consultant. She’s the author of the award-winning book, “Ctrl+Alt+Believe: Reboot Your Association for Success.” Follow her on Twitter: @hduckworth.

As you look around it doesn’t take long to recognize the world of business is evolving. What used to be “woo woo” spiritual practices like meditation, essential oil and choosing holistic foods, is becoming more main stream.

As such, “same old” meetings will no longer work. Now, participants demand a deeper connection to self and to the experts in their field. And CEOs must create companies that reflect what they believe in order to keep the highest levels of talent.

At the same time, hotels and venue partners are struggling to create open spaces that support connection in this new way.

I have been active in the meetings industry since 1999 so I’ve had a front row seat to watch this happen. The most successful meetings now reflect the societal evolvement toward mindful business, and that’s where I step in. I use spiritual tools (meditation, visioning, affirmations, intentions, essential oils) to shift the consciousness in meetings/business from fear to faith.

Time for a New “Woo & Wow” Conversation

By spirituality, I don’t mean religion. Instead, I approach spirituality as a broad concept with room for many perspectives — a sense of connection to the wholeness of life. Meetings are a universal human experience —something that touches us all. How can we get conscious about co-creating more mindful, meaningful and powerful soul-connecting meetings? First we must give permission to connect to our own soul.

Try this “woo woo” on for size:

Accept the authenticity of your feelings in the moment. Feel your feelings fully and allow yourself to recognize this is how you feel in this moment, without self-judgment. Ask for help. Don’t assume people around you are too busy or unwilling to help. A two-minute closed-eye meditation at your desk can help you get more clear about who you are, what you need and what your meeting attendees desire.

Breathe in and out. Focus on feeling the air come in your nose and out your mouth. Repeat this several times. This can center your energy on what is truly important. Have you tried essential oils? Simply putting a little lemon essential oil on your wrists can elevate your mood; a little lavender can calm you.

Choose compassion toward yourself. When you take a moment to realize just how wonderful, capable and amazing you really are, you inspire others to show compassion toward themselves and it becomes reciprocal. Use an affirmation to focus in a positive direction. My favorite saying is, “Success is all I see; success is all I feel; success is all I know in my business and life.”

I believe it’s time to have a new conversation in the meetings business. Meetings are a key contributor to conversations and social change and we are living in an era when social change is rampant. The illusion of a division between church and state is that — an illusion. Equal rights, marriage equality, globalism and technology are all working to evolve the consciousness of the planet. Younger employees require bringing their heart and spirit to the work they do — and the meetings they attend.

My work as a CMP, meeting professional, CAE, association executive and licensed religious science practitioner trained in using spiritual tools and traditions positions me to be a clearinghouse for this new conversation.

30
Mar
16

Bonus Content Event Garde e-news – April edition

Emily_wedding

Emily Thomas

Q & A with Emily Thomas, assistant director and membership manager, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education

Q: Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump or climb to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, and why?
A: Bungee jump. It’s a bucket list item of mine that gives me butterflies just thinking about it!

Q: If you could live someone else’s life for a day, who would it be, and why? 
A: Being a fan of taking risks and not afraid of pressure, I’d choose the president. For starters, it would be a humbling experience understanding what the president and his team are tasked with on a daily basis and the obstacles in their course. And due to my curious nature, I’d also be very interested in learning “behind the scenes” tidbits about being president.

Q: Learn: What’s one subject you’d like to learn more about?
A: Coding. HTML, JavaScript, C++, all of them.  

Q: Network: Social media or face-to-face? Which form of networking is better and why?
A: I prefer face-to-face but in today’s world with associations serving communities far from their home office, social media is the way to go.

Q: Transfer: Tell us about an experience in which you learned something new and then applied it to your personal or professional life.
A: I immediately think of the various Stephen Covey courses I’ve taken (think: “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”) One course in particular, “Speed of Trust,” taught me 13 specific behaviors that, when implemented, will promote trust and in turn lead to lasting change within an organization. After the course, I brought the materials back to my office and led my department in focusing on one new behavior each week to build a more cohesive and trusting team. I still look back on the trust cards today for dealing with tricky situations.

16
Feb
16

And the survey says…we’re scared

paris-attacks-new-york-670-1It was a Friday night and it had been a long week. I was just starting to unwind when my iPhone’s email notifications starting coming full blast.

And then the mindless show on TV was interrupted by horrific images of blown up Paris buildings; streets littered with debris; people scrambling for safety. And I sat there, trying to explain to my children why yet another act of terrorism destroyed lives, trying to assure them the world isn’t a dangerous place.

For days, the images of carnage shaped my thoughts. As I ran errands around town, I hoped that copycat incidents wouldn’t happen on my home turf. As for travel…I couldn’t even fathom the repercussions.

I’m guessing many of you experienced the same awful Friday night and since then have been rethinking international travel plans. Or what about your events? Are you prepared to handle acts of terrorism?

In the wake of the Paris attacks – and other acts of terrorism throughout the years – event professionals have grown increasingly concerned about safety, according to the latest Meetings Outlook by Meeting Professionals International.

The winter edition of the report found 44 percent of survey respondents think the meetings and events industry will change due to the increased threat of terrorism.

And this includes educational programming.

For example, MPI’s Carolinas Chapter plans to bolster its risk management education programs by bringing in law enforcement officials and leaders from the Red Cross to discuss how to best handle disaster.

The organization isn’t alone.

More than a quarter of respondents (28 percent) echo MPI Carolinas’ plans, making sweeping changes to how they run meetings. Measures include working with police on evacuation plans and offering employee training on rapid response.

sicurezzaIn addition, 15 percent of survey respondents plan to add security for the events – especially those organizations that host international conferences. Some are employing security agencies for counsel and preparation.

As for corporate travel plans? Increasing costs and security concerns mean fewer people will attend events. Instead of sending the whole staff, many companies will simply choose to send leadership, especially if an event is overseas.

The visa process will change, as will destinations of choice, MPI says.

The ripple effect: cost.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents believe room rates will rise. Food and beverage rates are predicted to increase 4.6 percent and air travel rates 4.2 percent. And so, organizations are spending much more cautiously.

“It’s not just having people at the registration desk but having a bit of heightened security on site,” said Bob Walker of the MPI Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter. “It’s having a larger security detail that is checking badges and making sure people who are in various areas of a hotel or convention hall have the credentials to be there.”

working-retirementIncreased protocol for security also means changing employee demographics, the report found. Why? The industry needs new professionals who have a better understanding of the current landscape, balanced by more seasoned professionals whose experience is invaluable to the newbies.

“For many meeting professionals, the challenge in coming months will be to balance concerns about lower spending power with the need to take advantage of current opportunities,” MPI says. “It’s not an easy one to tackle, but clearly, it’s an increasingly important one to master.”

The above is a lot to digest and the findings may seem a bit dismal. So to summarize:

  • 48 percent of respondents expect the cost of meetings to rise due to the need for increased security
  • 35 percent think room rates will rise by 6 percent or more throughout the next year
  • 31 percent say the number of full-time employees is increasing
  • 33 percent report online collaborative, interactive learning is important

What do you think? Have terrorism and/or safety concerns changed your event operations? Tell us about it.

15
Dec
15

The millennial mantra: give

GivingTuesday‘Tis the season for giving!

Retailers consider Black Friday the official kick off to the giving season, but many nonprofits consider #GivingTuesday – the Tuesday after Cyber Monday – as the start.

And millennials are taking note.

According to the plethora of research on millennial behavior, Gen Y embraces social responsibility. Doing good is just what this generation does. At the same time, millennials believe in giving back – but not necessarily with money.

At Event Garde, one of our core beliefs is giving back. That’s part of the “network” in our new tagline: Learn. Network. Transfer. We give back, both personally and professionally, as responsible contributors to our community, and we welcome opportunities to partner and co-create with industry colleagues.

And so the new study by Achieve, a research and creative agency for causes and The Millennial Impact Project, caught my attention.

#GivingTuesday 2015: Attracting Millennial Donors looks at the behaviors of millennials during #GivingTuesday, which was Dec. 1. Millennials now outnumber baby boomers, according to Achieve, so their behavior can be key to creating a successful #GivingTuesday campaign.

The researchers studied nine organizations to learn how they engaged millennials in their campaigns. One thing is clear: Millennials value giving their time and skills and leveraging their networks as much as – if not more than – monetary giving.

All the nine research partners employed social media and electronic communications vehicles – such as websites and blogs – to build support. Some supplemented their efforts with printed materials and some used grassroots efforts to raise awareness and build excitement.

The organizations reported varying levels of success, but after analysis, there are some clear takeaways.

First, businesses and nonprofits should plan early. Identifying tactics, metrics and a timeline early allows them to strategically engage key audiences. This can happen through social media and electronic communications, but also through networking and during events.

Millennials giving backThe most successful organizations were those that leveraged their networks of millennials via social media and ambassadors – those who can use their partners and passions to recruit support. Engagement is key, Achieve says, because millennials will respond much more favorably to a call for action than to an request for money.

And this means thinking beyond digital engagement. While social media was an effective tool, those organizations that supplemented digital efforts with engagement strategies – such as peer-to-peer or personal challenges, events, ambassadors and incentives – were the most successful.

“By planning early and strategically, interacting with millennial audiences long before #GivingTuesday and thinking broader than just digital tactics, organizations can learn to better understand and harness the power of this booming generation,” said Derrick Feldmann, lead researcher for The Millennial Impact Project and president of Achieve. “And as both this generation and this giving movement continue to grow, organizations can seize the possibilities of #GivingTuesday 2016 and beyond.”

So what does this mean for you?

#GivingTuesday is quickly gaining traction, so now may be the time to think about how your organization can join the cause.

Now is the time to plan for 2016, so start researching your networks and community partners. Engage your millennials. Beef up your social media strategy. Start researching community causes – locally or nationally – that align with your core messages and beliefs.

For ideas, review the case studies in the report – especially the social media tactics. And remember, videos, even short ones, can be powerful tools for creating inspiration and excitement.

Event Garde is a professional development consulting firm that employs a versatile skill set and a wealth of experience to create well-connected leaders. We’re committed to lifelong learning, for ourselves and for our clients, believing in its ability to produce transformational experiences that advance innovation. Sharing our deep knowledge, we’re dedicated to performance improvement for the professionals we serve and those who attend the events we facilitate.

15
Sep
15

Millennial-friendly meetings: Bring on the couches and big screens

millennialsGoogle images of millennials and you’ll find young professionals connected to their smart phones and tablets. You might also find images of colorful workplaces and nontraditional desks. Maybe even a collaborative thinking space.

Much to Baby Boomers’ chagrin, it’s a different world, especially since Gen Y now comprises the majority of the workforce.

And with that comes a different set of expectations: Skype meetings and coffee shop conversations have replaced hours-long meetings.

All this aside, while millennials crave technology, they still value face-to-face meetings – albeit with a different flare – and understand the importance of networking, according to a new report by Skift and Meetings Mean Business.

“Meetings and events offer the best possible platform to help millennials expand their networks, customize their self-education and personalize their career paths,” the report says. “That is why millennials are advocating for more effective meeting design and better ways to connect, both physically and virtually, in a shifting and highly competitive global marketplace.”

Translated: Associations should think differently about events.

Video plays a huge role in the lives of young professionals, as evidenced by the boom of YouTube and Vine. So event planners shouldn’t be afraid to incorporate video into presentations, and, better yet, dabble in live streaming for their events.

networking3In fact, hybrid meetings are becoming increasingly popular, but not just for attendees offsite. Since millennials value networking opportunities, associations could explore broadcasting sessions throughout a venue to allow attendees to learn and network simultaneously. This could spur the advent of “networking places,” comfortable rooms with computers, couches and food and drinks.

At the same time, the report suggests mobile is the future of millennial-friendly meetings. Gen Y wants event apps and social media platforms. Real-time updates via social media allows attendees to join group conversations, regardless of their location.

Of course, all this is good news for vendors and IT providers, both of whom, the report predicts, could see steady growth in businesses from organizations looking to improve their events.

The Skift and Meetings Mean Business report offers dozens of case studies and examples of organizations that have successfully embraced millennials. But here are some key takeaways:

  • Millennials value face-to-face networking experiences (in fact they rank them as the top motivation for attending events), but such experiences should be enhanced with social media capabilities and technology. Enter the rise of hybrid meetings.
  • Millennials expect technology, including fast Wi-Fi, hybrid content, social media conversation, web-based audience participation platforms, comprehensive event apps and other technology to be seamlessly integrated into modern meeting design.
  • More than previous generations, Gen Yers choose professional events based on location. Cities that offer a rich nightlife and awesome attractions will attract young professionals much more than traditional conference cities.
  • Despite common perceptions, millennials’ top communication preference is face-to-face. Second was email and third was texting.

social_media_strategy111Finally, the report offers some additional tips for engaging millennials:

Include millennials in social media and website development — Even though many millennials are still developing their skill sets, they want to feel like their opinion is respected and they’re helping co-create meeting content and experiences. Create a millennial task force for special projects so they can work together on shared goals like new social media campaigns, pre/post online content, app content conversion to web-based platforms, etc.

Kill the cocktail reception — Well, maybe not kill it but definitely add some interactive knowledge sharing that helps millennials develop personally or professionally. Many millennials in this report said the traditional cocktail reception is intimidating because it feels so unnatural to start a conversation without some kind of shared interest beyond the event theme. Apps like MeetingMatch are becoming popular, where attendees can find people with similar interests, and app developers like DoubleDutch and QuickMobile are integrating similar functionality into their products.

Create young professional SIGs — Everyone loves special interest groups because they’re smaller gatherings with people who identify with a niche subject. Planners should think about creating one solely for young professionals, especially at association conventions, where millennials can let down their guard and network in a more relaxed ambiance.




meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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