Hobsons University is Hobsons’ annual higher education user conference. In our special blog series, Hobsons & You, past Hobsons U attendees share their thoughts, insights, and stories about the Hobsons U conference. Hobsons U 2015 will be held July 26-30 at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas. Register today!

I have had the pleasure of being a Hobsons client for almost my whole career (you could say I was raised on filters, attributes, and bridges!). As I was pressing submit on my registration form for the tenth annual Hobsons University conference, I started thinking about how my experiences at Hobsons University have mirrored my own career path. It is clear to me that many of the professional opportunities I have been afforded are the result of increasing my Hobsons product expertise and becoming engaged with the Hobsons client community.

I consider myself a good attendee at conferences I go to. I participate in all sessions, complete evaluations, always have business cards on my person, hydrate, and tweet knowledge that I pick up along the way to my friends over at #EMchat. But, at my first Hobsons U conference in Boston in 2006, I was overwhelmed. We had just partnered with Hobsons and, with all of three years of admission experience, I had been put in charge of implementing Connect and Retain. While I met some incredible people at the conference and learned a lot about the Hobsons forward-thinking culture, I didn’t fully engage and take advantage of the opportunities provided to me.

Over the next couple of years, I embraced my role as the Hobsons guru on my campus and became really confident in my product knowledge and strategies. I presented for the first time at Hobsons U in 2010 – a session on implementing effective strategies in Retain. The positive feedback I received was overwhelming and inspiring. It motivated me to pursue a more comprehensive enrollment management role at my institution that involved both recruitment and retention. I was promoted from Director of Admission to Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management, overseeing both admissions and retention services at Bloomfield College. Without question, this move was influenced by my success with Retain, improved presentation skills, and growing confidence. I moved into a Vice President for Enrollment Management role a couple years later and since haven’t looked back. I like to think my last move was formally christened when my colleague Jessica Zawerczuk and I brought home to New Jersey the 2013 Hobsons U Circle of Excellence Award!

Our partnership with Hobsons has allowed me to present at several Hobsons University conferences, visit other college campuses to present and collaborate, participate in Hobsons University planning, and expand my professional network by leaps and bounds.

I have met incredible people along the way – the most valuable part of user-based, highly interactive professional development opportunities like Hobsons U. The coolest thing I have done, however, was participate in last year’s Hobsons U keynote presentation. Hobsons recruited representatives to stand up and give “HOBtalks” – TED talk-style speeches highlighting a student success story that the speaker experienced at his or her institution. I will never forget this opportunity to share with hundreds of my peers the story of one of the most amazing students I have had the pleasure of working with. The unique format – think theatre in the round – also forced me to step up my presentation game even more. These next-level types of experiences are often overlooked opportunities by conference attendees, but they can have a profound effect on one’s professional and career development.

In conclusion, my Hobsons story is one rich with professional growth and exciting opportunities. I often look back at my first Hobsons U conference and my first presentation as important milestones in my ever-evolving career. I encourage everyone to present, but more importantly, to engage with the great professionals at Hobsons and the larger Hobsons client community. There are so many talented people out there to learn from and collaborate with.

See you in San Antonio!

Interested in presenting at Hobsons U 2015? Proposals are due by March 2, 2015. 

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