Good Times, Valuable Information, and Great Networking at FloridaACE Drive-In

By Robert (Bob) Nealon, Career Coach – Lynn University

Let’s start with some honesty.  Waking up at 3:15 a.m. was no fun at all, especially considering that my fiancée had a similar wake up time earlier in the week as she left for a business trip.  Two exceptionally early starts during the week can lead to a tired body and cranky spirit if you let it and, I wasn’t going to let it get the better of me.  I quickly reframed my attitude as I started my journey to meet my Lynn University (and FloridaACE) colleague, Stacy Lanigan.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I left my house at 4:00 a.m. to head to my first FloridaACE event on the UCF campus last Friday.

Shortly after arriving to meet Stacy for our carpool effort, I got to meet her dog, Savannah.  I felt like I already knew her as I’ve seen her pictures and videos on social media.  She is even cuter in person; just ask Stacy.  I was excited to meet her because I’m a dog lover as we have a black Labrador mix named, Chloe, and also the name of our Wi-Fi home network honoring our crazy hound dog.  We can’t be the only ones who have done this, right?  The only downside to meeting Savannah was that she didn’t seem to warm up to me as I had hoped.  Although truthfully, I don’t blame her.  I’m sure I was incredibly scary looking as it was before 5:00 a.m. and I was without my first cup of coffee so she probably sensed my lack of energy and enthusiasm.

We arrived on the UCF campus and made our way to the Career Services & Experiential Learning Building.  What an incredible building!  We were greeted warmly by the UCF career staff including Dr. Bill Blank, along with FloridaACE President, Alicia Smyth.  This was only the start of the great morning to come.

The keynote address from Dr. Calvin Williams, Putting on the Ritz, was informative and impactful and provided the over 80 Drive-In event attendees with several valuable takeaways.  The only thing that could have made his presentation better would have included a smoke machine, special lighting, and pyrotechnics so he have had the entrance he wanted and deserved.  This might have been the only thing that the UCF Career Center didn’t have.

I also was fortunate enough to attend Tim Harding’s breakout session, A 21st Century Mindshift: Cultivating a Culture of Career Readiness and Competency Development.  It was enlightening and exciting to hear about the great work being done at the University of Tampa.  UT students leaving not just career ready (“Spartan Ready”), but ready to succeed in their careers.  There was much to consider and plenty to be excited about as career services evolves to better serve our students.

It was also an honor to help moderate one of the breakout sessions with my colleague including four local employer representatives answering questions about hiring practices at their respective companies.  I had fun and gained further insight into hiring practices that I can offer to the students I serve on my campus.

While I was new to the group, I was able to meet some new connections during the event too.  All of the members were very friendly and open to conversation.  I’ve been to numerous professional association meetings, conferences, and special events during my career.  However, this event was really well done.   I congratulate the FloridaACE steering committee on a fun, informative event.  Great job!

I am excited to be a FloridaACE member and am already looking forward to upcoming events including the 2017 Annual Conference at the Saddlebrook Resort and Spa in Tampa taking place June 14-16.  Hope to see you there!