Special edition: #NABJ11 in Philly

I unintentionally took a short hiatus last week as it was a week of nonstop events.  First, on Tuesday, August 2 I celebrated my birthday. *round of applause*

This past week, I left the “City That Never Sleeps,” to visit the “City of Brotherly Love.”

My birthday consisted of packing and last minute video editing as I prepared for the 2011 National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Philadelphia.  I attended the convention as a member of the U.S. Army’s team, which was one of the sponsors of the convention.  I was so ecstatic to be going with the Army because a.) they were sponsoring me to go b.) my peers and employers could see me in uniform and I can talk about the journalist job in the Army (which is what I do).  It was attention-grabbing wearing the uniform, especially when it came to getting photos from celebrities!

As an NABJ member of six years, I felt proud to support the two organizations important to me, both in the same place.  The only downfall is that polyester-blend white shirt I had to wear with my uniform everyday gave me a rash on my neck.  I was looking sharp, but the Army needs to upgrade to cotton!

If you have never attended a national convention, you’re missing out.  I can only speak for NABJ, but I know conventions are designed to educate and entertain, and this convention did just that.  From the three-day long career fair to the informative workshops to the celebrity-hosted movie screenings to the evening receptions to the after-parties….whew!  Conventions are also designed to wear you out!  I still kick myself because I didn’t attend certain events that I really wanted to go to, but unless you sacrifice sleep altogether and wear foam slippers all weekend, you’re going to have to miss out on some things so you can recharge.  I hit my crashing point after partying until 4am Friday night then getting up two hours later to run the NABJ 5K (That’s 3.1 miles.) and then run around all day.  By the grace of God, I ran for the entire distance and finished in 33 minutes but as you can see below, I wasn’t feeling my morning’s best.

After my 2pm meeting, I cleared my afternoon schedule and found my way back to my hotel room.

One thing I really liked about this convention was that #NABJ11 went mobile this year.  There was an app for all iPhones and Androids that would have the entire week-long schedule in the palm of your hand.  I was able to customize my schedule for the day and received reminders prior to the event starting so I can get there on time.  (Not that I did.)

The high points were that the receptions were great opportunities for me to sell the ideas that the U.S. Army wanted to present.  It’s not necessarily new soldiers we were recruiting.  We wanted journalists to start looking for military stories in their local communities.  As a Reservist, I don’t live on a military base, I live with everyone else within the city streets.  And there are inspirational stories that can come out of that.  Also, a lot of people didn’t know that there is a broadcast and print job in the Army…or that you can work as a civilian doing public affairs.  See? You didn’t know that either, did you?  Well that’s what we were there for!

I reunited with my FAMU RATTLERS and fellow young alumni from other universities, as well as networked with more seasoned journalists to get their advice.  I received critiques on my resume reel from employers at the career fair, some of which stung a little, but it’s necessary so I can get better.  I even got to chit chat with some the industry’s finest like Jeff Johnson, Bevy Smith, Jacqui Reid, Janell Snowden, Kelley Carter, Lola Ogunnaike…I was a complete blabbermouth for four days.  And that’s what you are supposed to do!  Dr. Cornel West even stopped what he was doing to talk to ME!  I’m telling you, this uniform was quite the attention grabber, especially being that I was the only sister in uniform.

The workshop topics ranged from blogging to entrepeneurship to HIV/AIDS awareness.  There wasn’t a minute that went by that you couldn’t have been learning or meeting someone new.

This convention was also important because it was election season.  Every two years, elections are held for NABJ’s board members.  Our new NABJ President is Greg Lee Jr., of the Boston Globe.  He’s from New Orleans which makes next year’s convention even more exciting because it takes place in…NEW ORLEANS!!! We already had the party started a year in advance on Saturday night to close out Philly’s chapter and welcome the city of NOLA.

See you at #NABJ12 in NO!!!

Where you there at #NABJ11??

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