2017 Becki Shawver Memorial Scholarship
by Konnie Dulu
Upon award of the 2017 Becki Shawver Memorial Scholarship, I attended the 2017 GPA Annual Conference. This is the first grant professional conference I have ever been able to attend, and I would describe it as very well worth the trip. As a young professional who’s been in the field for 4 years, finding quality education is difficult. Finding quality education my organization will physically send me to is even rarer. In a world of webcasts and digital attendance, attending in-person meetings are all the more important.
The benefits of in-person meetings are the people! There are many aspects to attending in-person starting with Keynote Speakers. This year’s Keynote–Thomas Ahern–was very awe-inspiring. Without being in the grants field himself, he was able to draw you in, make everything relevant, and inspire you to succeed in your own career. Much of what he said directly correlated to working in a grants position within a company that may not fully understand your role. Attending excellent sessions is another very beneficial in-person experience. Some of the topics focused on creating a career development plan, teaching grants to those not in your field, increasing grant capacities, knowing how to manage from the middle, and recognizing your own power as a grant professional. Not only was the content engaging but also I was able to listen to those around me. The collective experience of other professionals in the room was wonderful! In every session are not just expert presenters but others in your field and in your shoes, experiencing many of the same day-to-day difficulties and various personalities types.
Learning from and discussing in a group setting with like-experienced or like-situational individuals is one of the greatest benefits of the GPA National Conference. Quite a few of the impactful takeaways I gained from this year’s meeting are from random one-on-one chats with other attendees and vendors. Everyone is a source of knowledge. Attend meetings, attend in-person, reach out a hand and introduce yourself, take a moment to have interest in others around you and what you may glean from them. It is the in-person interactions that help you grow as a professional and develop network connections in your field.