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Why You Should Attend a Conference as a Young Professional

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If you’re a young professional looking to get ahead, attending conferences is a great way to accelerate your career.

But, conferences can be really intimidating. You might not know anyone there, everyone seems more experienced than you, and you’re wondering if you’ll fit in. It can be daunting to enter a room filled with people who have decades of experience in the industry while you’re just starting out. You might worry that they’ll see right through your lack of experience and think you’re an imposter. Or maybe you feel anxious about speaking up, or having to ask questions.

This past year, Redstone empowered me to attend the Ascend Canada Annual Conference and Catalyst Inc. Conference. And yes, I felt all these fears and believed I lacked the experience and confidence to be a part of it all.

Pictured Above: Ascend Canada Annual Conference, September 2023

However, despite the fears and doubts plaguing my mind, I still went ahead and did it anyway. And the result?

I extracted a wealth of knowledge in just one short day. Below are the benefits I reaped by attending these two incredible conferences, and perhaps my experience will empower you to step out of your comfort zone and reap the benefits of an in-person conference experience. 

Confidence Building

Conferences are a great way to build confidence. 

If you’re new to the workforce, it’s easy to feel like you’re not where you should be. You may not have the experience or know-how that more seasoned employees do, and this can make it hard for you to feel like part of the team.

When you go to conferences, you get a chance to meet new people and learn from them, which helps you see all the possibilities that are out there and helps you believe in your own abilities. You also get more practice interacting with people in professional settings, which will make you feel more comfortable when you need to interact with a member of your company’s c-suite or have to present in an all-team meeting.

Understanding the Importance of Diversity of Thought

When you go to a conference, you get exposed to new perspectives and ideas, which can open your mind and help you see things in ways you hadn’t before.

I remember a speaker at the Catalyst Conference who said: “Inclusivity is a shared sense of empathy for diverse human experiences and is the secret sauce of unlocking potential on all levels.” 

This resonated with me because it is true: when we listen to different people’s stories and experiences, we can better empathize with them. And when we empathize with others, we open up our minds to different ways of thinking about things and new ideas about how to approach challenges. Working with a large team of diverse professionals makes us all smarter and more creative as individuals, which in turn helps us produce better outcomes for the organizations we serve. This is something I will carry with me as I grow in my career.

Pictured Above: Catalyst Conference, November 2022

Leadership Development

Young professionals often experience a heightened sense of imposter syndrome in their early careers. However, by attending conferences, you can start to tackle this issue by hearing from those who have overcome this feeling and managed to become leaders in their industry.

For instance, I recall a panelist at the Ascend Conference, who had once struggled with this mentality and is now a c-suite executive, give the following advice to the audience: “Don’t judge young professionals based on their age. Judge them based on their outcomes.”

This was empowering because it made me realize that just because I’m young doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to offer. It’s about what you bring to the table, not how many years you’ve been around. I, too, can be a leader as a young professional.

Pictured Above: Ascend Canada Annual Conference, September 2023

Having a Taste of University Again

When I graduated from university, I knew I was going to miss the multitude of learning opportunities. I had opportunities to learn in and outside of the classroom, whether it be hearing from a distinguished professor, attending workshops on campus, joining clubs, or being a delegate at large conferences.

When you enter the working world, it’s easy to become sheltered in your routine.

I’m lucky that Redstone offered these opportunities to learn outside of the day-to-day job.

Conferences are great experiential learning opportunities. You can strengthen your hard and soft skills, whether it be gleaning new insights from an expert in your field or simply enhancing your networking abilities with the attendees sitting at your table. Any time I attend conferences I feel like I am back in the university environment where I can learn in new ways. 

Feeling Inspired

Conferences are a great way for young professionals to feel empowered, inspired, and ready to take on the world.

At conferences, you’ll be surrounded by people who are just like you—and they’re all there because they want to do amazing things with their lives and fulfill their career aspirations. They want to make an impact on the world, just like you do!

You’ll hear keynotes and panels from people who have been in your shoes before and know what it takes to get where they are now. They’ll share their stories and give advice that will help you navigate your career path.

To continue the wise words from the panelist I mentioned before, he said: “Let go of your imposter syndrome and believe in yourself and be confident.”

Pictured Above: Catalyst Conference, November 2022

There’s no doubt that going to conferences can be scary. You’re walking into a room of people who (you feel like) are smarter and more experienced than you, and it’s easy to feel like you don’t belong there.

But let me tell you something: everyone has been there. Even the most successful people in your field have felt those same fears.

So don’t let fear hold you back—go out there and seize the opportunity!

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