At the beginning of this month, pymetrics attended the National Association of Colleges and Employers conference in beautiful Anaheim, California. NACE's annual conference is the place to be for all things related to college career services, so we packed our bags and headed west. We learned a lot, and had a great time.

Below are the top 5 things that pymetrics learned at NACE:

  1. NACE is HUGE. There were over 2,000 people there, and it was great to see the energy and appetite for innovation at the highest levels of university administration. Career Services offices bridge the gap between the student and the professional, between theory and practice -- It’s a huge responsibility. As Maulik Pancholy observed during his opening remarks, “This room is so full of power; and it’s awesome.”
  2. The theme of this year’s conference was “Sparking Insight and Innovation,” which resulted in a variety of really great speakers and workshops throughout the week. Career centers are facing a huge challenge engaging students in an increasingly digital world. Career centers are charged with providing value in a way that resonates with students, and on limited budgets. It’s a tough battle: fighting shortened attention spans on one end, and tightened purse strings on the other. Thankfully, companies are stepping in to help students and schools in increasingly unique ways, from specialized social networks to an “educational city” campus to a neuroscience game-based self-assessment and career exploration platform. (Man, that last one is so brilliant.)
  1. Maulik Pancholy opened the week with a thoughtful and hilarious keynote address. He addressed the challenge of diversity within Hollywood and the entertainment industry in general. Diversity has been shown to bring all sorts of benefits to the business world: increased employee engagement, lower turnover rates, and even increased bottom lines. In show business, the results are no different. Films with diverse casts do better than more homogeneous casts in terms of box office performance, ratings and ROI. The key to truly unlocking the benefits of diversity lies not only in acknowledging the unique aspects of various parties, but actually seeking out and celebrating the differences.
  2. The swag. Oh man, the swag. NACE is not amauteur hour, folks. Companies showed up with construction crews, two story booths and truckloads of giveaways. Various pieces of apparel (tshirts, socks, hats, Converse shoes...), macarons, mugs, toys, backpacks...You can literally show up at this conference empty-handed and naked, and leave with a new outfit, enough candy to survive for months and 172 fancy new mesh knapsacks. (File this knowledge away under: best practices for next year.)
  3. The support we got at NACE was overwhelming. I honestly expected to be the awkward new kid with no friends at the NACE cafeteria table during the conference, but the number of people that sought us out to introduce themselves in person, congratulate us on our growth, or exclaim that they’d heard about us on NPR was incredible. It was gratifying to see that our work is making a difference, and helping meet a very real need that affects millions of students.
Thank you to the NACE committee for such an amazing week, and we are looking forward to next year!