Over 1,000 college students converged on Arizona State University this past weekend with a simple goal: a commitment to make a difference. It was time for the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative University Conference and the students in attendance were from all fifty states and over eighty countries. Babson College students were fortunate to be included in this diverse and inspiring group. I was grateful to have the opportunity to present my initiative at the conference and to be one of the twelve students representing Babson. The conference included a mix of students, celebrities, changemakers, and events like no other. Whether hearing from the Clinton family about the Clinton Foundation, volunteering in the local Arizona community, or connecting with new people, the conference had a lasting impact on me and included many takeaways. Babson College also received a special shout-out as student Daquan Oliver was commended by Hillary Clinton for his youth entrepreneurship program. Babson College helped make the experience go smoothly and I felt very prepared for the event, the networking, and my personal presentation.  I returned from the conference with several thoughts including:

CGIU

1) The Importance of Preparation: Being well prepared for a conference or event like CGIU helps to make things go much more smoothly. It helps to have an idea of what you want to takeaway from the conference, who you hope to meet, and what you would like to accomplish. Doing your research ahead of time makes it easier to maximize the limited time and to make the most of the experience.

2) The Power of Technology & Social Media: Not only did technology play a major role in the conference activities, but it also helped connect people from around the world.  The CGIU event was an example of technology’s growing potential for good through its live stream of conference events, ability to connect event participants, or spark change.  Social Media was used in a positive way to connect people, mobilize a cause, and share information highlighted by presenters. Facebook and Twitter are a great way to connect with friends, but also a platform to impact the community and world in a positive way.

3) The Potential of Networking: It is important to make an effort to simply strike up a conversation with someone new. There were so many incredible people at the conference pursuing similar projects and goals that I would never have met if I had kept to myself and kept my mouth shut. In just a couple days, I was able to connect with multiple people pursuing similar social impact goals and we spoke about the possibility of working together for the common good.

4) The Importance of Education: At the conference, education was a widely discussed topic. While many people think of education as simply going to school and getting a degree, CGIU highlighted education beyond the classroom. Education can come from interacting with peers, from serving your community, or from learning by doing. Everyone seemed to agree that an educated population is crucial to creating change in the future.

5) Communicating Yourself: I found real value in being able to clearly communicate who I was, what I do, and what I am passionate about to others. Having some form of a self-rocket pitch that you can give at a conference helps when you’re meeting many people at once. Having something memorable you do or say will help you stand out so that others may remember you after a conference. It also helps to have personal business cards to give out in order to connect with others and serve as a reminder after an event.

The CGIU conference offered a rewarding and enriching experience that can help prepare student leaders across the world to positively impact the future. Key an eye of the projects of Babson students that attended and look for CGIU for 2015 if you are working on a social impact project!