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I’ve spent this week at an international conference. During our lunch break I would usually head off of for a quick bite to eat with some colleagues, but yesterday I spent a little time on my own and pondered my thoughts on the whole event.

Personal Finances. I usually get compensated quite nicely by my company for attending such events. Unfortunately, this one happens to be in the city I live so I get nothing. I guess they figure it doesn’t cost any extra to attend the conference than it would for me to go to work. How wrong they are. Attending this conference has cost me an extra $80 on top of what I’d normally spend for the week. Ouch.

  • I have to drive to the conference. I usually ride my bike to work and as we are a one car family, HB has been stuck without transport. The travel from home to the conference is also quite horrendous and last night I spent 45 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I certainly do not miss commuting.
  • I have to buy lunch and it pains me. I hate spending money I don’t need to.
  • I’m expected to attend the conference social and of course partake in a drink or two. At resort prices this gets awfully expensive.

On the plus side, I was talking to someone who’s mother had recently lost her dog to cancer. (Ok, that’s not the plus). The plus is that she is missing her dog terribly and would love to pet-sit my dog during our upcoming vacation. That is going to save us a fortune!

Health. I’m a creature of habit. Attending a conference seems to awaken all those terrible habits in me and I know I’m going to spend the next few weeks battling to be good again. Here are all the unhealthy habits I fall into at conferences:

  • Trying to find a quick bite for lunch is fraught with danger. Greasy burger joints and taco places abound and finding a healthy option is difficult when trying to fit in with other people. 
  • Coffee is consumed in much higher quantities. I usually drink a maximum of a cup a day, often less. This week it’s been more like 4 cups a day.
  • Sitting on my butt all day makes me feel so blah. I have to get up early for the commute and I get home late. Ick. 

Career. This week has highlighted a couple of things for me:

  • This is not something I want to be doing forever. I want to be inspired by my work. I want to feel excited to be attending an international conference and having the opportunity to make a presentation to so many influential people. If only I was passionate about the field I’m in. This week has confirmed my long term plans to move into something I love. Now I just need to find it.
  • Networking is good. Meeting people in face to face meetings always seems to make it easier to deal with them via email and on the phone. When people know who they are communicating with they become more invested in the outcome.  
  • I spent some time with my manager. I see him about twice a year and speak to him on the phone another couple of times. Performance appraisals are always a touchy subject with me. I’m torn between wanting to do the greatest job in the world (and being recognised for it) and knowing this career path isn’t my long term ambition so why should I bother. I work independently so I was wondering how I was going to be assessed, but I can thankfully say my annual report was glowing. I am safe knowing that I can stay in this career path as long as I like, which is comforting in current economic times.

Simple Living. By day four I was feeling a little burnt out. I decided to spend lunch on my own. Since the conference was at a resort I discovered a lovely, sunny cabana beside the pool so I relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful weather. I’m trying my best to slow down and enjoy the simple things.

Does anyone else have to attend conferences all the time? If so, how do you cope?

Photo by: shinemy

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