InfoNext 2024 Conference – Barger Leadership Institute Student Voices

InfoNext 2024 Conference

By Aayana Anand

I recently had the privilege of attending the InfoNext 2024 Conference, hosted as a partnership between the MER (Management of Electronic Records) Conference and ARMA (Association of Records Managers and Administrators) International in Palm Springs, CA. I attended as a member of the ARMA Student Scholar Program, which covered all of my fees minus travel and lodging. However, thanks to a $1,500 BLI Grant, I was able to cover that remainder, making this experience practically free!

After I had flown in the night before, my conference experience began on Sunday, April 7th with orientation. On this day, I met the ARMA staff and the 3 other student scholars. I got a full rundown of the conference venue, schedule, and procedures, including scanning badges to sessions, introducing speakers, and aiding attendees around the venue. That evening, we all attended an Arcade Welcome Party, where we mixed fun on our prepaid game cards with making our first sets of connections.

Monday, April 8th marked the opening date of the conference and my second day in California! Jumping into my first networking breakfast, I was honestly terrified. I am not used to networking with individuals outside of my familiar campus environment, so going up to adult strangers and asking to sit at their tables was intimidating. Nevertheless, I persevered through this fear, and I slowly became more comfortable striking up conversations with new groups of people at these meals. After this respective breakfast, we had our first keynote address from the iconic Kay Firth-Butterfield, an individual I’ve looked up to for a few years now. Her inspiring opening words set the tone for the rest of the week. Following this, I attended 1-hour educational sessions about behavioral advertising, global privacy regulations, AI and productivity, and AI readiness.

My final day was Tuesday, April 9th, when I attended educational sessions about information governance case law, AI legislation and regulation, AI avoidance, women in information governance leadership, and even a cultural hacking case study about the city of Reykjavik. Closing the conference experience, we attended a “Swanky Soiree” at the pool, complete with appetizers, drinks, and a pretty spot-on Frank Sinatra Impersonator.

Having returned to Ann Arbor, I’ve reflected a lot on this experience. Firstly, it’s helped me strengthen my technical skills and understanding of information technology, information governance, AI, privacy, etc. These are concepts that are incredibly useful and applicable to my current studies and future professional endeavors. Secondly, it’s helped me come out of my shell, both as an individual and professionally and as it pertains to networking and relationship building. I was forced to step out of my comfort zone when it came to making friends with the other students, networking with adult professionals, traveling solo, and more – As nerve wracking as it was at times, I’m glad I had the opportunity to face discomfort and grow in the process.

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