Just three months ago, if you were to ask me about my availability on Saturday, April 25th, I'd probably say: spending the weekend celebrating my 21st birthday and/or panicking about finals. While my sentiment is the same, my answer is much different. April 25th is the Inaugural CHICKS Conference, a one-day experience that will provide motivated women in the Carolina community with lessons in empowerment, professionalism, and leadership. My whole collegiate career I've looked forward to opportunities to #LeanIn at the big boys table. I've had vivid dreams of being a #GirlBoss who never took no for an answer. I couldn't help but think: now that I'm here and it's only the beginning, I've got to get more ladies on board. When my dear friend Liana came to me with an idea for a conference to engage the un-engaged in a conversation about professionalism and careers, I had to make it happen. When my other best friend Venisha came to me with the idea for a conference dedicated to lifting up the young women around us, I immediately saw her vision. Combining the two only made sense. The first brainstorming sessions involved seeking inspiration from events like SLDC and Georgetown's OWN IT Summit, where impactful breakout sessions took place and empowerment was the key take-away for conference attendees. We threw around names, session and speaker ideas, items for purchase, and possible venues. We even thought about all the questions and doubts we'd get:
What good is a leadership conference if it's only for women?
How are you funding this?
Why would people spend their Saturday at the conference instead of the pool?
Do we have enough time to bring this all together?
(Don't fret - we've thought about all the possibilities and seeing as the conference is in 3 weeks, I'm sure we'll hit some more. Stay tuned)
You would think that everyone would be in support of this kind of event, but we've even run into some hurdles! You could say we've ruffled some feathers when it comes to how soon our event is, what it's about, and where we are holding it. My advice to you is don't take no for an answer, but always be nice. Planning a conference for 250 attendees is no cake walk, but the challenge of doing it in less than 2 months has been rewarding.
I've compiled a list of do's and don'ts for anyone who looks to plan a conference or event in the near future:
- Make connections throughout your collegiate career so you can have speakers on speed dial
- Begin planning the calendar year before the event (no kidding here)
- Think about food and t-shirt costs because they will get you
- Plan an event with a nice mix of friends, acquantiances, and colleagues
- Have strategical and branding geniuses as best friends
- Keep a mentor/advisor who isn't afraid to tell you what you need to do
- Forget to check your emails
- Be nasty to the people who can determine your (event's) fate
- Let a conference get in the way of a friendship
- Assume anything. Ever.
- Forget to eat your Wheaties!
- Take yourself too seriously
The official countdown to the conference is 19 days...I hope to see you there! Will re-cap and reflect after then.
chicksconference.com to learn more and register
@chickconference on Twitter
Chicks Conference on Facebook