The 2015 NABJ Annual Convention and Career Fair is coming up fast. In order to have a successful convention, you need to be prepared. Below are 10 things you need to do now to be on your game in Minneapolis.
- Buy your plane ticket. The closer you get to the convention date, the more expensive that air fare will be. I bought my Baltimore-Minneapolis ticket in February on Southwest Airlines, and it still cost me $324 roundtrip. NABJ members get a discount at United Airlines. I tweet fare sales regularly at @NABJDigital or @AvQueenBenet. Also set a fare alert on Airfarewatchdog.com to be informed about the lowest fares.
- Business cards. Get them now. Vistaprint has a great selection and you can get 500 for as little as $10. You can even get free cards (minus shipping costs) that sport an ad on the back.
- Resume/online portfolio. Now is the time to tighten up that resume and freshen up or create an online portfolio to impress recruiters at the convention. Need help? Check out the DJTF webinars covering online portfolios and resumes. They’re free to watch, but you must register.
- Find ways to save money. Going to the convention is not cheap, but you can do it and not break the bank. Find folks to share a hotel room at the NABJ Convention Roommate Bureau. If you’re checking a bag, tuck some non-perishable snacks and water. Reach out on NABJ’s listserves and social media channels for ride shares to and from the airport. Check out sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon to find nearby places to eat that are less expensive than the hotel. And search Hotwire and Priceline for nearby hotel deals.
- Look at the convention schedule. Work out a plan on what workshops you want to attend and create a schedule.
- Check out the exhibitors and recruiters (not posted yet, but here’s who attended in 2014). See who will be in Minneapolis and start prioritizing who are the must-see employers on your list.
- Start making a list of people you want to see in Minneapolis. The schedules of those attending the conference are very tight. Start now to create that list of must-see people and map out appointments, interviews and chat times. And consider breakfast meetings, since schedules tend to slip as the day goes by.
- Check your wardrobe. See what clothes fit and what don’t. See what needs to be cleaned or altered. And if you need to buy things, do it now.
- Check your social media profile. Google yourself and see what comes up. Check your Facebook profile and make sure there are no embarrassing photos or posts because potential employers will be checking.
- Hang out with your friends now. The convention is the time to meet new people and grow your network. It is not the time to hang with the same group of people you do at home. As much as you love them, they are not going to get you a job.
The Digital Journalism Task Force will do its annual convention preparation TweetChat in May, which will offer great tips and advice from NABJ veterans. Hope to “see” you there!
Benét J. Wilson is the vice president of education for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force. She also serves on the board of the Online News Association and is the owner/founder of Aviation Queen LLC, a freelance writing and social media consulting company.