The Connections Leadership Conference is an annual conference held at the Great Wold Lodge in Traverse City, MI. It is put on by the Leadership Institute to teach 100+ people from groups all over CMU’s campus about how to make connections (as the name implies) within your group and others, and how to become effective leaders. As a part of LAS, I, along with the rest of my cohort, were able to attend this conference.
The weekend began with all the participants being broken up into different institutes (or groups-I was a part of the Roscoe Institute). These groups would begin and end our Connections Conference experience; we began by saying what expected out of the conference, and ended with what we had learned and what we could take back to our respective groups. To begin, though, we broke off into sub-groups. Each sub-group had similar interests and discussed options on how to make their own groups better. For example, I joined the residence life group and represented RHA. Other people in my group represented hall councils, the volunteer center, resident assistants and the office of resident life. It was great to be able to hear what other groups around campus were doing and how we could learn from them.
During the weekend, there were different sessions that we had the opportunity to attend. These sessions covered everything from leadership through Disney (which I have written about in another post), time management, communication within our RSO’s, and everything in between. These lectures were fun and interesting, as well as informative. As an avid procrastinator, going to the time management talk was immensely helpful.
At the end of the first night, we all had the opportunity to go to the water park. I was excited to go swimming and just relax; sadly, I did not end up swimming because I forgot my contacts and couldn’t see where I was going in the water park, but I still got to relax. Two girls from my cohort, Abbey and Sam, were not swimming either so I decided that I would hang out with them. I did not know them very well, so I thought this would be a great way to make a connection (see what I did there?) with them. It was great to just be able to sit there and talk to them and learn a little more about them.
Overall, connections was a great experience. I had a ton of fun, while also developing my skills as a leader and learning how to make connections with those around me. I met so many amazing people during the weekend, all from different background with different ideas. I loved hearing what they had to say and it was great to have the opportunity to connect with them.
Looking back, a few months later…
Writing this original post, I struggled with writing about what I would take away from the Connections Conference. I had learned a wealth of information over a short period of time. Looking back, I have seen that I learned a lot from my weekend at connections. I learned the effectiveness of stepping out of my comfort zone and making those connections with people. Networking is important, and without it a leader cannot thrive.
I talked with a lot of different people at Connections that I normally would be too nervous to. Connections taught and gave me that confidence to go out and make those, well, connections with people. And that is what I have taken away, and will continue to take away, most from Connections.