First time ASCA goer, Megan Kelly, reports on her experiences at #ASCA13.
I am returning back to one of my favorite features of The Counseling Geek – the interview series. This episode I talk with Megan Kelly, a recent counseling grad turned first year IB counselor extraordinaire, using the trusty Google Drive collaboration tool! I hope you enjoy the read and as always, remember you can leave comments and email me with any questions. You can also tweet or add Megan on Twitter using the @Megan_M_Kelly username.
Jeff: Can you introduce yourself and tell a little bit about yourself and your current place as a school counselor?
Megan:Greetings Readers! My name is Megan Kelly and I am a professional school counselor. Originally I was trained and worked within the field of clinical psychology, however I experienced a change of heart after serving three years in Africa as a volunteer with the Peace Corps. I recently returned to school to obtain a certification and am currently embarking on my first year as a school counselor. I am helping to implement a brand new International Baccalaureate (IB) program and serve as the IB school counselor for a predominantly Hispanic, low-income high school on the southwest side of Chicago. Lots of new changes, but I am very excited for the challenges and rewards this school year will bring!
J: This year’s ASCA conference was your first national conference. What made you decide to go?
M: I am a strong proponent of professional development and believe it is the key to staying abreast of current trends and research and being effective in our field. The more we know, the better equipped we are to serve our students, school, and community. In the fall before the ASCA Conference, I discovered The Counseling Geek’s online raffle scholarship for $200 towards an ASCA registration. I entered and surprisingly won! Considering the prize money essentially covered the student conference rate, registering and attending the ASCA Conference was a no-brainer. Many thanks to Jeff Ream!
J: As a first timer, what kind of advice would you give to those who have not gone before?
M: While I am no conference expert, I do have some words of wisdom that I am happy to share with conference newbies:
Consider the conference an investment in your personal and professional growth. The price tag is worth it.
Between meeting people and exploring a new city, there isn’t a lot of free time. Before you arrive, look over the sessions and plan out which workshops you would like to attend.
Know your professional development limits and balance shorter workshops with longer ones if necessary.
If you aren’t completely sold on the session you are attending, don’t be afraid to session-hop to one that might be a better fit for you.
If you’re a techie, bring along spare batteries or chargers for your devices, as outlets may be limited in conference rooms.
Most presenters post their workshop materials on the ASCA Conference website and app. Take advantage of them!
If you’re attending with colleagues or friends, be sure to branch out on your own to network and build additional connections during and outside workshops.
Take advantage of the freebies at the exhibitors’ tables. You’ll be able to score posters, stress balls, professional headshots, and much more all at no cost.
Participate in #scchat Twitter chats throughout the year. It’s a blast to finally meet the people you’ve been interacting with online.
J: What aspect of ASCA would you say was most impactful to you as a new school counselor?
M: Being surrounded by thousands of school counselors who share in the same professional goals and motivations is powerful, especially as a new counselor. It solidified my decision to change my professional focus to school counseling and I was able to create lasting connections with colleagues, both domestically and abroad.
J: Why do you think it is important for interns or new school counselors to try to attend the national ASCA conferences?
M: The ASCA National Conference offers top-notch workshops by leaders in the school counseling field. Interns and new school counselors are the future of the profession and, outside of their graduate education, there is no better place for them to learn best practices and gain inspiration for their own work as school counselors. In addition to feeling a little overwhelmed (which is normal), they are guaranteed to leave the conference feeling inspired, connected, and prepared for the future with ample, newly acquired resources at their disposal.
J: Were there any road blocks you came across when planning your trip?
M: I’m quite the planner, so other than a cancelled flight and a subsequent 11-hour plane delay, I experienced no roadblocks.
J: Final thoughts or advice for the readers?
M: I leave you with two final, magical words: Disney World.