Imagine that you are an undergraduate or graduate student walking into the Las Vegas Convention Center to attend your first RECon. Just grasping the elementary parts of the program experience would be challenging: “Where is Registration?” “Where do I find a Conference Program?” “How do a find a particular company in the Leasing Mall?” Even if a young person attends a very large university, he or she will likely be a novice when it comes to attending a major professional meeting—particularly one with 30,000 participants.
To respond to this challenge, the ICSC Student Membership Program has developed a special student track at RECon, to gently guide young people through the RECon labyrinth, creating a manageable, but structured, set of opportunities in Las Vegas. In other words, we are trying to support undergraduate and graduate students in “connecting the dots’ at RECon so that they can engage more fully in the meeting’s offerings. Last year, we hosted about 550 student members at our annual show in Vegas. Imagine the potential benefits of fine-tuning the conference experience for students who would return to campus or set out on a job search.
The student membership track includes a range of opportunities including a panel discussion with high-level industry experts (including CEOs and heads of Real Estate Departments); interactive networking sessions; an industry “meet and greet” to discuss professional opportunities at participating companies; a guided shopping center tour at an award-winning property; and one-on-one mentoring sessions with highly placed individuals. With all of these events, we have sought to draw experts from every aspect of the industry, which, we expect, will help students think more expansively about the industry.
Before RECon’s kickoff, our student membership team will be laying the groundwork to enhance student understanding of our mammoth meeting, and providing insights about how they can enjoy the benefits of ICSC membership when they return home. By pointing young people to our “first-timer’s” webinar and providing pre-Convention “how to” fact sheets, we expect that they will step into the LVCC with more confidence and an arsenal of strategies to embrace fully all that RECon has to offer. After all, our goal for the students is to go back to campus with innovative ideas for their academic work, new business contacts, a greater clarity about where they fit in the industry, and tried-and-true approaches to landing a job.
So keep your eye out for young people wearing the yellow ICSC Student ribbon on their badge. Help them feel welcome to our meeting and maybe even stop to say hello.