Deanne Esdale, BA, CCDP, SFU Career Education Specialist
My CACEE Conference Experience
I was inspired to attend this year's CACEE Better Together conference so that I could interface with my colleagues across Canada and across SFU's career and co-op departments in an off-campus, learning and idea-sharing forum. I found lots of diversity in the programming, and I pre-selected sessions that touched on innovative uses of technology, the enterprising and intercultural mindset, and community-university partnerships. Other than making a few last minute adjustments, I selected well and got a lot from the sessions I attended.
If I had any worries about feeling welcomed as a first time attendee to the CACEE conference, they were abated when the speakers on stage put tiaras on each other at 8am. I thought to myself: this crowd likes to party! The friendly smiles and inclusive conversations continued. That I was there representing the hosting university (and city), also helped to ease what can sometimes be awkward small talk. I had signed up to be a mentor and was easily connected to a mentee – we enjoyed a walk on the sunny seawall between sessions and spoke of her career trajectory.
The conference location and facility was lovely, the food was fresh and tasty, the coffee flowed, the organizers were visible, and I loved that we got to celebrate in the awards and recognition of our colleagues and their hard work. Everyone did a really impressive job and I appreciate what goes into pulling events of this scale together.
The theme of internationalization and customization was something I noticed. In Max's keynote about the millennium generation, he spoke about moving into optimism, away from the stereotypes and scarcity that can be the prevailing narrative around youth employment today. He reminded us about the importance of mentorship and of feedback for this group. This got picked up again in the session lead by Dr. Nancy Johnston on Open Space Technology (OST) with its democratized approach to facilitating conversations, and the ability to choose and advocate for your own agenda, and then move out and away from that agenda in a safe space, and then back again, if that is where the conversation needs to go. In addition to the OST session, I was inspired by the session out of Queensland (QUT) with Alan McAlpine and Caroline Rueckert. For different reasons they were both about the experience of learning, listening and discovering a framework to hold the integrity of shared experiences and desired outcomes. I am passionate about internationalizing and indigenizing our curriculums so I enjoyed Heather Williams’ talk as well. I hope to stay connected to this as my work moves forward, here at SFU.
I got some very special gifts at this conference and though it wasn't one of the impressive door prizes - I came away with some research that will guide my work over the next number of years – something that I didn’t even know I was looking for. So that is very exciting. I also came away feeling validated that the work we are doing is important, is needed, is evolving. That we are not serving up stale, day-old ideas but that we are investing in forward thinking models and committed to building communities of resilient, switched-on humans.
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