By HAYLEY WASYLYCIA
Conferences: they are a valuable and necessary resource for professionals to stay up to date on current practices, network, and do other professional-related things.
But what about students? Student-targeted conferences are quite common nowadays, and operate much the same as professional targeted conferences, distinguished from the latter with lower rates, more student-targeted resources, and (of course) a higher proportion of students in attendance. It is common for each discipline to have its own conference – again, as professions do – ranging from geology to nursing to history.
This was the case in Canada for urban planning students until 2014, when the organization running student conferences in Urban Planning ceased operating. Since then, a significant gap has been left in the market, and in the experiences of post secondary students in this discipline. This year, I decided to do something to change this. In October, Canada will see the first urban planning student conference in four years: Place 18 (www.placeconference.ca)!
Together with a (wonderful) master’s student who is also co-director of this conference (alongside myself), and an incredible team of 10 other conference committee members, this conference has evolved from a few project plans to becoming a reality that is being advertised across Canada.
What has it taken to get to this point? Quite a bit! No task is easy, and rebuilding a conference brand that struggled several years ago makes this task even more monumental. Our journey thus far as a conference committee team since we began has been both exciting and stressful at times – and will likely continue to be both of these things for the next several months. From managing tens of thousands of dollars in sponsor, and grant money, to organizing collaborative events, tens of speakers, and a gala at the Shaw Conference Centre, no project like this can be successful without the hard work and dedication of many hard working organizers and advisors.
Time will only tell how things shape up over the next several months, however the event seems to be promising and will be a long awaited experience for students across Canada in urban and regional planning who have not had the opportunity of student conferences for several years.