When I learn that I am going to a conference, I start researching the area. I think spatially and so start by looking at the exact location of the conference on a map and get an understanding of the geographic region. The JW Marriott Austin is located just a block from the Colorado River coincidently on the same street where the famous Austin Bats reside!! There are many miles of hiking and biking paths along the river and locations that will rent you kayaks or do boat tours. With museums like Austin Toy Museum, Mexic-Arte Museum, and Museum of Weird nearby, I could stay busy without even getting in a car.
Next up is looking at what events will be going on while there. The Art City Austin Festival and Convergence Fair was this last weekend which looked awesome. Matilda The Musical is playing at the Zach Theater. Austin might not have the major sports teams that we think of first, but they still have a wide range from soccer, to rugby, to roller derby. And they all seem to be in season right now.
I, of course, always check out the food options. I was surprised to find that right next door at One Eleven Congress Ave is an exciting new space called the Fareground. This is an open space lobby in a historic building with six restaurants to delight all those that come to downtown Austin. They have managed to gather a wide range of award-winning restaurant owners to open these smaller locations and their menus all look amazing.
It is Tuesday afternoon. The conference is wrapping up and I’ll be leaving Austin soon. And yet, I have done none of the above! From the time I checked in to the hotel Saturday Night until now I haven’t left, filling all of my hours with a wide range of conference activities and then collapsing into bed to sleep so I could do it again the next day.
I started the conference by helping with the Early Career Professionals’ Network on Sunday. We had a great set of speakers. I may no longer be a participant, but I still learn something new every time I help with the events of that program. The welcome reception was a great event as well. I was able to stop and talk with some of the folks I have been seeing the last few years at this conference. Always great to catch up. I also stopped by several of the booths to talk with the exhibitors. There were some new faces this time.
Monday was jam packed. I dutifully got up for the 7 am breakfast, not wanting to miss an opportunity to talk with fellow attendees. The plenary panel made some good points around the softer skills needed in this profession. I also attended some great sessions. I was particularly excited to see two about CAP. I will have the needed three years of experience this May and have been looking into the certification. It was good to get the info firsthand. Monday I also had the honor to be the moderator for Lora Cecere’s Cocktails and Questions event put together by WORMS. What a great speaker! She gave some really great advice. And congratulations to Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District for winning the Edelman Award. I am always in awe by the finalists and completely love hearing what each team did. I feel so inspired by them.
Tuesday, although shorter, was just as packed with activities. I started my day with the WORMS Pay Negotiation Breakfast. There are so many more things to negotiate then strictly pay. And then filled up the rest of my day with talks and presenting my poster. I appreciate the prominent timing placed on posters at this conference by having minimal other activities during this time. It is a great way to do lightning learning. I stopped at some posters on Monday when I was able to walk around and then got some fantastic questions when presenting mine.
Although, I have done none of the typical Austin attractions for tourists, I have still had an amazing time here. I substituted local fare for conference food with great conversations, interesting museum visits for intellectual talks, and entertainment opportunities for awards ceremonies and networking events. Maybe next time I will remember that the conference is all the activity I can handle when I attend the INFORMS Business Analytics Conference in Colorado. Hope to see you there.
The opinions expressed or postings on this site are my own, and don’t necessarily represent Esri’s position, strategies, or opinions.