Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Disney World for Grown Ups and an Endless Summer

So much has happened in the last week so I’m just going to dive right in:

Las Vegas. 2 words: holy cow. I had not been to Vegas since I was 14 so it was really like being there for the first time. Israel Amplified was a great conference. I was proud to represent SDT and have the chance to meet with women from our chapters from across the country who attended. Another perk of being at Israel Amplified was that I got to see about 10 of my students from my Birthright trip. The 839 reunion was wonderful and as always, shenanigans ensued.

When not conferencing, I got to spend some time enjoying the city, which made it feel like a little vacation. I went down to the Strip a couple of times and found all of the glitz, glamour, and pomp very exciting. I felt like a kid at Disney World (or maybe a 23 year old at Disneyland…) walking through all of the hotels, seeing the Bellagio fountain show, and seeing the insides of a few casinos. I admit that the Bellagio was my favorite hotel to tour:

  • The Chihuly glass ceiling reminded me of the glass I saw throughout Venice
  • The fountain shows were every bit as impressive as the ones I’d seen in movies
  • The atrium really did feel like the entrance to a Disney theme park with the perfectly manicured lawns, ornate flower sculptures, a ferris wheel, and so much more
  • The view of Hotel Paris across the street as well as hotels on either side made it a great location to take in the sights

I dabbled into a bit of black jack as well and am happy to report that I came away about even. I had just as much fun watching my friends play as I did (and none of the stress of worrying if I was going to lose money or not!). And, to end my time in Vegas, we had a night out on the strip. After a great dinner at a place in Planet Hollywood, we saw a Bellagio fountain show and then headed to Caesar’s Palace for the night. We saw the shops, gambled, and got into the club Pure, which was a blast. The night ended as the sun came up and I made my way to Dallas just a few hours later.

Dallas. Happy Centennial Sigma Alpha Mu! I was very proud to represent SDT at the Sammy convention and it was nice that some of the guys from Vegas were also in Dallas. I had more of an official responsibility in Dallas – to learn from and observe the Developing Leaders Initiative so that I can use it to make SDT’s Collegiate Leadership Team successful in its first year. I attended the facilitators’ training as well as most of the educational sessions throughout the weekend. Besides from a presenter or two, I was the only woman in a room of 200 men… maybe that’s why I was able to make some friends throughout the weekend J In all seriousness though, it was great to meet so many of the undergraduates and hear about their partnership with SDT on campus.

The big event of the weekend was the banquet on Saturday night (my 14th!!). To celebrate 100 years, there were awards given to 2 outstanding alumni and a slideshow of pictures of men throughout the fraternity’s history. I gave a speech and presented the Sammy Foundation with a gift on behalf of SDT which was a great way to tell alumni in the Dallas area about SDT and Sammy’s partnership relationship. I felt like the convention was really successful and I definitely walked away with ideas for the Collegiate Leadership Team, tips on making my resume stronger (thanks to one of the sessions), and some amazing networking contacts with a ton of people. I’m hoping that they materialize into something!

Outside of the convention, it felt really nice to be home for a few days. Even though it was a quick trip and I was busy throughout my time there, the week and a half leading up to my trip had been really hard for me. The comforts of home were much needed and I have felt much better since I’ve been back in DC. I found that being in DC without a clear direction or purpose in spending my time was a big struggle and while I was traveling, there was 0 time to think about anything else. On Sunday night before I left, my mom cooked an amazing homemade Italian meal and it was soooooooooooo nice to have a family dinner! I realized that I want to do everything I can to stay in DC and so far, I’ve put my best foot forward in trying to make that happen. I felt a bit apprehensive about coming back, especially after not spending too much time with my family in Dallas, and I’m excited to see them again in Ft. Lauderdale over Labor Day weekend!

The power of social networking. I got back from my travels on Monday night and the past couple of days back in town have felt really good. I’ve had things to keep me busy and work to be done which was quite a nice change from how I left town feeling. One thing that’s made the past couple of days so great was a meeting I had yesterday with someone at George Washington University. I was connected to him by someone I volunteer for SDT with. After a few weeks of emails, we met in person and it was the most valuable 30 minutes I’ve had in a long time. I learned of a couple of professional opportunities that are on the horizon, met his team, and he also reached out to 5 or 6 high level folks in student affairs at the university. Through these introductions, I now have meetings set up with most of those people next week. Things are definitely looking up and I’m going to prep for those meetings so that I can make a great impression. Please send positive thoughts – I’m trying to channel all the positive energy I can!

In addition to GW, I also made some great contacts with folks at Israel Amplified and the SAM convention that I’m following up with. Ideally, I would love to be working in student affairs or leadership training, or consulting, and I was able to meet a few folks in both industries. I’m sending out resumes, writing emails, and hoping that someone, somewhere likes what they see! A friend sent me this article yesterday that also gives me hope. It shows that the current job market in DC is the best in the country!

For now, I'm going to keep on networking and searching for opportunities, as well as try to enjoy the last few weeks of summer. The next adventure - Ft. Lauderdale with the family over Labor Day weekend!

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