Wisdom Wednesdays: Conference Wisdom for Newcomers and Veterans Alike

by Bethany Krepela

This Wisdom Wednesday blog post imparts wisdom from an experienced conference-goer, Bethany Krepela.  Whether this is your first time attending the ALDE International Educational Conference, or if you’ve been going for years, read on (you definitely will want to see the packing list).  Included are great tips on how to get the most out of your conference, whether this is your first or 21st.  If you haven’t signed up yet for the February 6-9, 2012, conference in Minneapolis, register now – early bird rates expire January 6, and you don’t want to miss the chance to save $175! 

I didn’t know what to expect (or how to pack) for my first ALDE conference.

It was 2008 and the conference was in Chicago – not exactly an exotic destination from my hometown of Minneapolis.  My colleagues on campus assured me it would be a great place to network and gain additional training in the new-to-me field of development. Being that I work from home, I was looking forward to spending some non-office hours with my colleagues, too.

Little did I know that beyond the top-notch sessions and keynotes, the scheduled events and free time would surpass my expectations, as would the new friendships that would Bethany Krepelabegin.

If this will be your first ALDE conference, there is so much advice I could give you, but don’t be daunted – you’ll love it!  Come rested and with more business cards than you expect to hand out.  Don’t miss the Newcomer’s Orientation or the Welcome Event!  Visit with the vendors.  Try to find time to get away from the hotel with a new friend or two.  Bring a nice outfit for the President’s Reception – it’s truly like the Golden Globes of ALDE!

For you “young or young at heart” members of ALDE, you simply must know about “YALDE.”  We don’t have an official roster or any sort of hazing or entrance antics.  We’re just a group of ALDE folks who like to think we’re “up” on the action.  We’re movers and shakers and like to make plans and get folks involved!  All are welcome!

So, while you’re at the conference, listen around for folks talking about what “YALDE” has planned for the night, and ya’ll feel free to join in, OK?  We will also use our page on Facebook – simply called “YALDE” – to promote meeting times and places. (You can also see photos of conferences past.)  The more, the merrier.

Some of my favorite YALDE moments include exploring downtown Chicago watering holes with new friends, sharing a giant burrito with a friend at the Hula Hut on Lake Austin,


Left to right: Brittany Kallman , Bethany and Ellen Draeger hang out during the 2010 Welcome Event held at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.

playing tambourine along with the band at Cedar Street on 4th in downtown Austin, Texas, and hanging out in the suites at the host hotels.

I am now preparing for my fifth annual ALDE conference and have had the pleasure of serving as Marketing Chair on the Planning Committee.  We are so excited to welcome everyone to Minneapolis – a truly beautiful, dynamic city.

To begin your time at the conference, we have planned a special worship service at breathtaking Central Lutheran Church, just blocks from the hotel.  Then you’ll be whisked away by bus to the historic Depot for our welcome event, which will feature Minnesota delicacies, Scotch tasting, a live band, figure skating and a curling demonstration.  The keynote speakers – Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Ted Peters – and breakout presenters promise to educate and inspire, and the networking is unbeatable.

I look forward to meeting you in Minneapolis, February 6-9, 2012!  Learn more and sign up.

Items on my packing list:

  • A thick stack of business cards
  • A soft-sided bag to carry around my conference necessities in
  • Water bottle (to help save on expense and waste)
  • Eye drops (inevitably needed after some late nights)
  • A sweater to throw on over my business-caz outfits (in case the hotel is too cold)
  • A dress-up outfit for the President’s Reception
Bethany Krepela leads Luther College’s (Decorah, Iowa) initiatives for alumni programming and giving in the Twin Cities metro area.  Much of her work involves creating and marketing events for young alumni.  Prior to her work for Luther College, Bethany spent nearly 10 years at Augsburg College working as an admissions counselor and as a writer in the office of marketing and communication.  You may contact Bethany at: biermabe@luther.edu.

2 thoughts on “Wisdom Wednesdays: Conference Wisdom for Newcomers and Veterans Alike

  1. I still remember my first ALDE conference and the great tour guide I bumped into on the plane ride from Mpls to Portland!
    Merry Christmas to you all!

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