#SNDSF: Ellen Collier shares 5 tips for first-time attendees

ellencollierSND is looking forward to welcoming journalists, innovators, students and advisors to San Francisco next month for SNDSF: Evolving our Craft. The complete schedule of speakers is posted and you can still register for the conference here. To continue our preview of what to expect, we’ve asked a few frequent workshop attendees to share their tips for making the most out of the weekend.

Ellen Collier is lead designer at Memphis Business Journal and recent graduate of Ball State University in 2015. She has been actively involved with SND since she was a student and is a frequent conference attendee, winning travel grants to the 2013 and 2014 conferences. Ellen served as president of the SND student chapter in 2014-2015. Last year Ellen was one of two inaugural award winners for the SND Bill Dunn Award for Excellence in Student Volunteerism and she was awarded the SND Foundation scholarship in 2013. I asked Ellen to share a few tips for students and first-time attendees at #SNDSF.

1. Be prepared & bring contact materials

Before even getting to San Fran, take some time to prepare your contact and portfolio materials. Networking is a huge part of these conferences, but people can’t contact you later if you don’t leave them your email or social media info. Business cards are especially helpful. When it comes to student portfolio reviews, having hard copies of your work is an option, but they can be difficult to carry around. I would bring my iPad or laptop to the reviews and show my work on my website if we had Wifi, but I would also save a PDF backup just in case.

2. Do some research

Look up the speakers on their websites or social media accounts. It’s nice to have an idea of what speakers you want to see beforehand, because many of the talks happen simultaneously. Look at some of the projects published by speakers and their organizations in the past year. If they’re brought up during a talk, you’ll already be familiar with them and can absorb new information surrounding them. Find the #SNDSF hashtag on Twitter or the Facebook event to see who else might be attending.

3. Be engaging

This conference is your chance to ask questions, mingle with some of the best people in our industry, and be involved in the conversation on the future of news design. Don’t waste that opportunity. Introduce yourself to speakers if their particular topic interests you, reach out to people on social media or via email, and don’t just surround yourself with people you already know. While most information is covered during presentations, you can learn just as much from a conversation in the hallway or at a bar.

4. Take it back with you

Take notes during sessions you find particularly interesting, but don’t lose them the next day (which I’ve been very guilty of). Be thinking about how you can incorporate ideas from the speakers in your own media organizations. Take pictures or take note of particular points or projects from the speaker that you can show to your staffs for inspiration.

5. Relax and have fun

SND is a blast. I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had at SND conferences over the years, both at the event and hanging out after hours. After hour events are your chance to network outside of a formal environment, so enjoy it and be yourself. The people I’ve met through SND have not only been incredible mentors to me, but many of them are real friends now.

To register for the 38th Annual Workshop & Exhibition, which runs April 7-9 in San Francisco, click here. Check back at SND.org for more program updates, interviews with #SNDSF speakers and previews of what to expect at the workshop next month.

Featured photo: Carlos A. Gonzalez/San Francisco Chronicle

About Courtney Kan

is a designer at The Washington Post and the editor of SND.org.

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