Hello! My name is Samantha Cribari-Starr and I have been an active PCMA member for the past 10 years and am currently serving on the Student Advisory Task Force Committee. This time of year can be extremely busy for students as they begin Fall Semester to make sure they start off on the right foot. Not only is it imperative to balance your course load, part-time jobs, social calendar but it is also important to make sure you are active in university organizations.
Several years ago (no need to age myself); I was a hospitality student at Purdue University West Lafayette, Indiana. At Purdue like at most universities, the beginning of Fall Semester marks “call out” season for student run clubs and organizations on campus. There are so many organizations that it may be difficult to just choose one. During my day, I was fairly active in the club scene, that I had joined four student university run clubs. One club in particular changed my entire career path. I had been walking to class one day and I noticed a flyer on the ground that had called out for students interested in planning events which had peaked my interest since I knew I didn’t want to manage a hotel or restaurant post graduation. I had went to the call out of this organization and there were only four students in the room and the person running the call out asked me if I wanted to be secretary of the club and I said sure, why not. This club ended up being PCMA’s first Purdue Student Chapter and helped me gain insight into the industry that I had no idea about. I just thought it was a club for hosting parties, but I was completely wrong.
Being active in PCMA as a student afforded me the opportunity to attend Convening Leaders in Indianapolis that year which made me realize this was the industry I wanted to be a part of. I was exposed to so many individuals across the country with very diverse experiences at Convening Leaders which helped me obtain my first position in the meetings and convention industry with the American Diabetes Association in Alexandria, Virginia. I have been planning meetings and conventions within both associations and corporate environments ever since!
Long story short, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of networking and being active in student run organizations while in college. You never know what door can open that will lead to another one; plus it’s a fun experience that you can learn and grow from too!
Happy Fall Semester! You picked an exciting industry to study, hope you learn a lot and look forward to seeing you at a PCMA conference soon!
Note: If your university does not have a PCMA club but you would like to start one, email firstname.lastname@example.org.