Post written by: Pippa O’Shea, Student at James Madison University (Class of 2014), Hospitality Management Major and Business and Human Resource Minor
Booths and networking and CVBs oh my! As this was my first Springtime trade show I felt a bit like Dorothy did when she first saw Oz. The entire room is filled with elaborate displays from each city and buzzing with people. As a rising senior at James Madison University I am very interested in a career in the CVB business. I was able to attend this year’s show through the Springtime Shadowing program. I found out it through PCMA and met Bill Adams of Norfolk CVB who kindly matched me with a mentor to shadow during the show. The objective of the shadowing program was to expose students to a trade show, network with CVB professionals and the clients, and to see how they conduct business. As a student, this program is important to me because it brings learning out of the classroom and provides real life experience and a great networking opportunity. This whole experience really helped me understand the industry better and reinforced my desire to work for a CVB.
I got to work with Dori Jenson who works for the Vancouver CVB. She introduced me to her co-workers and let me ask all my questions such as how did she become involved in Vancouver CVB, what to expect at this show, and about their cities amazing convention center and local attractions. I got to see firsthand how CVBs and the hotels in that area gained new clients and sold their city. Dori helped me out by introducing me to people in the industry and making me feel really comfortable in this new and exciting environment. She also showed me how they are using new technology to conduct business such as the digital ‘business card’ scanner, and iPad presentations. One of my favorite things about the show was that while this was a day dedicated to business, everyone makes this a fun experience for both sellers and clients.
I think it is so important to get involved in any opportunity that is presented to you. In just this one day I got to talk with so many people and learned so much about the CVBs and their clients. I hope that this shadowing program grows and more students decide to get involved. As a student interested in conventions and CVBs it is so important to gain experience in the industry and network as early as possible. I encourage all students to get involved in shadowing programs, associations such as PCMA, and any opportunities that can better prepare students for their intended career path.
As this was my first Springtime show and the first year I have participated in the shadowing program, I look forward to next year and encourage students to mark their calendars and get involved! Some more tips that I have picked up from this experience is wear comfortable shoes, bring lots of business cards, drink lots of caffeine (it’s a long day), come with an open stomach (so much delicious food!), and last but not least bring an eagerness to learn and network. The connections and friends you make during this one day can help you out for the rest of your life and your future career. I look forward to keep building and developing relationships with all the wonderful people I have met during this year’s Springtime show.