CMU’s Leadership Institute provides the Connections Leadership Conference (Connections) for students to enhance their leadership through informative and interactive sessions, while providing an environment for students create new professional and interpersonal connections. And I can’t forget to mention it happens at the Great Wolf Lodge Resort and Water Park in Traverse City, MI.
This experience was exciting, informative, and engaging when I was an undergraduate student. In returning as a graduate student and staff member, my attitudes toward the conference remained the same, but for very different reasons. There are two aspects of my experience that were deeply rewarding. The first was serving as an Institute Facilitator, which meant that a co-facilitator and I shared the responsibility of informing undergraduate students of the skills needed to properly identify the assets and needs in their residential communities, registered student organizations, and scholarship cohorts, while helping them create an action plan to use the assets to address the needs. Serving as an Institute Facilitator provided me with a new experience and increased responsibility for the developmental experience of conference attendees.
The second experience is related to building community and cohesion between our office staff. Our team does a stellar job at keeping one another accountable for maintaining a work-life balance. Connections provided a great opportunity for our staff to bond outside of our normal work environment. After our sessions concluded, myself and over members of the “Grad Cohort” as we call ourselves, and other staff members took time to explore Traverse City. I believe we have a close knit staff, but it is always great to deepen the connections through unstructured shared experiences.