AITP NCC 2012 Highlights
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Posted by: Melinda Thrasher
#AITPNCC 2012 Highlights
By Melinda Thrasher,
Social Media Reporter & Seattle AITP Student Chapter President
I was an NCC newbie… and now I'm a huge fan! This year's Association of Information Technology Professional's 2012 National Collegiate Conference was awesome. As official "Social Media Reporter” I did my best to keep up on the tweets using the #AITPNCC hash tag and ended up meeting a lot of great people online and in person throughout the event.
Having already been to a few IT industry conferences for professionals, this was the first student focused conference I experienced and in my opinion they did it right. There was so much to do no one person could have done it all. Between the exam prep sessions, workshops, certifications testing, contests and networking it was non-stop action the whole time.
Getting there a half day early and spending my birthday in San Antonio kicked off a great week for me, southern hospitality is alive and well in Texas. Touring a bit of the city my first night and getting to know my way around before all of the excitement certainly helped me plan my week better.
Thursday was the first day of the event, more of an early-bird special with registration in the afternoon, sponsor booths, exam prep sessions and scheduled exam times. The afternoon's welcome mixer was a lot of fun and the perfect icebreaker for meeting people. In the main ballroom there were tables set up in each corner with "Spice IT up” themed games that started off with a "grito yell” and included naming peppers, translating Spanish, a couple of fun toss games and ended with the "donkey call”… some may have been a little embarrassed but we all had a lot of fun together. The friends I made early on were my friends all the way up to the last day and we're remaining connected even now, regardless of the fact that we're all over the US.
I highly recommend registering for the exams ahead of time and getting your slots guaranteed. I did and it saved me a whole lot of time and I also didn't have to wait in line. It also allowed me to study some of the prep materials before the event which I firmly believed helped me pass. I attempted several exams, all very challenging and came out with my first professional certification. I'm now proud to have earned my Microsoft Technology Associate certification in security fundamentals. Coming home with my "IT Street Cred” has given me a whole new outlook on my path to being a professional and achieving higher levels of certifications in the future.
Friday was an early start with breakfast and keynote speeches. It's really inspiring to hear CEO's talk about valuing technology innovation and our part in the future of IT. It was a boost of confidence to know we're on the right track and the future will indeed be very bright if we keep focused.
The breakout sessions were equally as impactful, all of the guest speakers I had the pleasure of hearing were excellent. Extremely impressive was 14 year-old HS freshman Andrew Meade, the leader of his Cyber Patriot Team. He gave an informative session on Denial of Service attacks, how to detect them and institute countermeasures. There was a lot to learn and I came back with pages and pages of notes from all my workshops.
Although I didn't compete in any of the contests this time, there were quite a few to get involved with and a ton of trophies and prize money went out to all of the amazingly talented winners.
Congratulations go out to everyone who dominated the competitions!
Luckily we got a few hours to enjoy the city before the banquet. Some went to the Alamo, cruised the Riverwalk and enjoyed the city while the rest of us filled the pool area to soak up the Texas sun – myself included. Being from Seattle, I certainly enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours in the hot sun and a swim in the cool pool.
Saturday night's banquet highlighted the best of the event, recognized the winners and thanked the many volunteers who made it all possible. Kevin Jetton announced we had even overgrew the hotel space and had to seat a few tables right outside the ballroom. I call that success.
Personally, I stayed an extra half day to enjoy the city after all of the excitement passed. Sunday afternoon I visited the Alamo and enjoyed shopping for a pair of cowboy boots and touring San Antonio. It's a wonderful city and I would love to come back.
Overall, the event proved to be worth much more than I ever thought it could be. The experience, networking and education I came away with were priceless. I am proud to have been a part of this year's event and hope to be a part of next year's too. Looking forward to AITP NCC 2013 in St. Louis!