Turning Your Conference Experience into a GPC Study Group

by Fielding Jezreel, St. Louis Chapter Scholar

First, a huge thank you to GPF for providing a conference scholarship that enabled me to attend the 2017 GPA Conference. As a second-time conference participant, I had the luxury of knowing what to expect and how to plan out my schedule to maximize professional development and networking opportunities. For the 2017 conference, that plan primarily centered on two aspects for growth. The first is that I recently started consulting full time and know that I still have a lot to learn from my colleagues across the country. I attended sessions on determining consultant rates and dealing with the ebb and flow of work. Individual conversations with other consultants revealed tips and tricks of the trade that will strengthen my business. To the many GPA members who shared insights with me, thank you.

The second area for growth centered around my goal of sitting for the GPC during the spring of 2018. With several years of experience, and after taking full advantage of the professional development opportunities provided through the St. Louis Chapter, I feel prepared in many of the competency areas. In advance of the conference, I identified that my weakest competency area was around post-award management, particularly as it relates to federal grants. Using the conference app, I chose sessions that provided insight and skill building in this area. I left the conference feeling confident in post-award competencies and am on track to take the GPC exam in the spring.

The conference inspired me to return to St. Louis with a renewed desire to support other GPA members in obtaining their GPC credential. The conference reinforced that learning as a group holds more value than learning alone, with group members sharing diverse experiences that enrich conversations and understanding of the material. A group of five St. Louis Chapter members met for the first time in early December and are scheduled to continue meeting through early February. As a group, we will be prepared for the GPC exam, will have strengthened relationships with one another, and will have built the capacity of our chapter.

The scholarship from GPF jump-started this process, igniting the drive within to get serious about studying for the GPC exam and to learn through group processing and sharing.

What are your goals? How can the GPA conference jump start your next big idea?