I just recently attended my first academic sport management conference. As a "new" full-time faculty member, I am excited to learn more about how others do things, and share great ideas. Even though I have worked in the sports industry for 25 years, and taught as an adjunct for the last 13, I consider myself a rookie when it comes to a thorough understanding of the academic side of the business. Attending the 1st annual Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) Conference was a great first impression.
I regularly preach to my students the importance of connecting with others... those who have the job you want in the future, or those that work for organizations you have an interest in joining. And I tell them that you can't simply connect on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter. I stress the importance of building relationships and in order to do that, adding value for others.
So, the response from those students is frequently, "how can I do that? I am just a college student/intern/etc." WRONG. Everyone can contribute value, and it is simply taking the time to listen, look and observe to determine where it can be done. The COSMA Conference taught this "rookie" that newcomers can still add value.
Among a group of career academics, many with extensive (and sometimes intimidating) academic CVs, I felt welcomed and valued. I have since connected with new colleagues around the country, and started dialogues around topics that are interesting and valuable to my continued development as a full-time faculty member. And as a practitioner, I have had the opportunity to "add value" for others through a sharing of contacts, opportunity and expertise. A presentation at COSMA with a colleague has opened the door to new relationships where I hope to contribute value and learn from others.
I have shared some articles and resources with others in the days following the conference, and it feels rewarding to do that. And it's validating when a 20-year veteran takes an interest in what you have to share, and demonstrates that the new kid can, in fact, add value.
I can confidently tell my students that the "new guy" can still contribute to the conversation.