As I read through the speaker list, goosebumps formed over my arms. I skimmed the list and read the following organizations next to each speakers’ names: Harvard Business School, Oxford University, former Secretary of the Department of – whatever it was, every name had an impressive title, showing how much they had accomplished in their lives. And that was just the speaker list.
This past weekend I had the honor of volunteering at the 30th Annual Aurthur W. Page Society Conference. The Arthur W. Page Society is comprised of the top communications professionals in the world. Arriving the day before the conference, I was mostly involved with stuffing bags and arranging research material into folders. Just by doing that, I was coming across the names of people I admire and individuals that I hope to resemble one day. Slipping the research into the folders, I caught glimpses of fascinating new ideas and theories. Without the conference even beginning, I was already inspired.
Day two: I was thrust into the thick of things. Running microphones this way and that, escorting members from this room to another, and reprinting the members’ nametags that got misspelled. But in the middle of all the chaos, I got the opportunity to stop for a moment and listen to the speakers. They spoke about new research, their own experiences in the corporate world and how they applied those experiences to their lives. I was in awe. At end of the day, there was an awards dinner for the society’s honorees and I had the chance to hear both of them speak. Listening to their stories of career obstacles and how they overcame, I was struck with one thing. These people, these CEOs and CCOs of the top companies and firms around the world, were once just like me. Students struggling to navigate career choices. Someone who, like them, just knows that if they were given the opportunity to work hard enough, they could affect change in their organization, in their profession, and in the world. I ended up picturing myself up on that stage in 20-30 years and talking about my story—my varied career—and I knew at that moment, I had made the first important decision in my public relations career by volunteering at the Arthur W. Page Society’s Annual Conference.