Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College
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Senior participates in global meeting conference

October 29, 2013

Senior Erika Watson was among more than 100 college students who took part in a leadership program held during IMEX America in Las Vegas earlier this month.
The Future Leaders Forum is designed to encourage and inspire the next generation of meetings industry leaders around the world. It’s a joint initiative between IMEX America—a worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events—Meeting Planners International and MCI, an independent, global association, communications and event management company.
During the three-day forum, Watson learned about sustainable event planning practices—how to be green by making simple changes such as swapping disposable dishes with real tableware and how to select green venues. Sustainability is a growing trend in the industry, she said.
The forum also showed her ways to stand out from the crowd—although Watson was ahead of the class in that regard. In one resume-writing workshop, her resume was used as a model example because of the use of color in the design.
Mostly, the forum provided networking opportunities.  Nearly 2,700 exhibitors participated on the show floor of IMEX America.
“It’s a gigantic trade show specifically focused on industry vendors and suppliers, so it was a huge opportunity,” said Cindy Hazelrigg, assistant professor of Event and Convention Management.
Watson, who is graduating in December and relocating to Colorado, said she made several contacts that she plans to use when job hunting in the future.
Already, her academic experience is giving her an edge. While most collegiate participants were hospitality majors, Watson’s marketing, public relations and advertising degree combined with an event planning minor has given her a more comprehensive education that impressed those in the industry, she said.
“Stephens has definitely encouraged me to stand out,” she said, “and has made me marketable as a professional.”

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