As I am writing this, there are three days before SEAHO presentations are due (unless the deadline is pushed back for some reason). You may have not decided whether or not you want to present, or you might be struggling to come up with a topic to present on as a graduate student. My purpose in writing this is to speak upon my experience of presenting at SEAHO 2015 as a second-year graduate student and offer some advice for presenting (in the 4th paragraph, if you want to skip to that).
I had attended SEAHO 2014 but did not know about the conference until well after the presentation deadline. Last year, I was a second-year graduate student who wanted to present with one of the graduate students in my cohort, but we did not have a concrete idea. We sat together in her apartment for over three hours, coming up with many failed ideas and one that we liked and pursued. We put together a list of learning outcomes, an outline, and a summary of what we wanted to discuss. Our presentation idea was called “Real Talk: The Five Unspoken Truths about Life as a Housing Professional”. Below is the summary for it:
Taking the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with staff members and colleagues is a critical component of our role as individuals seeking professional and personal growth. Yet there are topics involving Housing professionals that are not often discussed in an open, collaborative environment. How does the way we portray ourselves on Social Media reflect among our co-workers and on our department? How do we separate ourselves from our Housing persona after business hours in a way that allows for a healthy work-life balance? How do we manage relationships and cohesion among professional staff in a revolving-door environment, which creates a new staff dynamics on a yearly basis? These questions and more will be addressed in a setting that challenges participants to reflect on Five Unspoken Truths about life as Housing professionals and discuss why this “Real Talk” does not take place between other staff members in developmental conversations.
Our presentation was accepted, and our experience presenting at a regional conference as graduate students was invaluable during our job search and our professional development. Even if it hadn’t been accepted, the process of coming up with an idea about which we were passionate was very enjoyable.
Here are some tips for those 1st-year and 2nd-year graduate students who are considering submitting a program proposal:
- Partner with another graduate student or professional. This helps when presenting and allows you to bounce ideas off of one another to create a great presentation.
- Present about a passion or something with which you have experience. A leadership theory, specialized area in Housing and Residence Life, or a hot topic in the field are good suggestions.
- The SEAHO 2015 Guidebook App is still active, which contains all of the presentations from the previous year. You can look at example presentations and see what others talked about last year!
Whether you put in a program proposal or not, I hope you consider attending the SEAHO 2016 Conference in Raleigh, NC!