Monday, July 11, 2011

SHRM conference - Day 1

SHRM is the Society for Human Resouce Management and this year I attended the SHRM 2012 Annual Conference & Exposition along with the Student Conference. As a recent graduate from Portland State University, I was able to attend with the Human Resource Management Association student chapter. Each year the conference changes locations, this year it took place in Vegas.

We left Portland on a Southwest Airlines flight at 7am on Friday, June 24th. I decided to not check my luggage after my last flight with Southwest. We stayed at the Las Vegas Hilton, which is right next to the Las Vegas Convention Center and where the conference and expo took place. I only had to be in the heat for a quick, one minute walk to go from one building to another. Which is why I never got a tan while I was in Vegas.

Fortunately, I've visited Vegas before and knew about how some things work there. Many people in the group of about 15 students didn't realize that each hotel doesn't have its own shuttle. In Vegas, there are various shuttle companies and each person pays a flat rate to get to their hotel. We decided on which shuttle to take and took a hot ride to our hotel.

We were lucky enough to be able to check-in to our rooms immediately, even though it wasn't check-in time. I shared a room with another recent college graduate, AP. We both took a nap before going to the Student Networking Dinner with SHRM Industry Experts. We changed into business casual outfits.

Day 1 at conference

Once we registered, we walked in to find a fellow PSU HRMA member, BN. Each table had an HR topic on a sign in the center of the table. No explanation was given and so we assumed that we would discuss that topic at dinner. Salads sat on each plate. A waiter came around and poured balsamic vinaigrette on each salad, after he placed our napkins in our laps.

This is very similar to the salads we had.
The formal waiter, all the silverware, and the fancy salad made me very glad that I chose to change into business-wear. Everyone, but AP and I, were dressed fairly casual. One young woman had on one of those miniskirts that is easily confused for a belt. It is Vegas but this is a professional event. There was one man in a suit sat at the table. As dinner was brought to us the man in the suit asked us about our table topic "organizational development". He asked us what we thought it meant. It turned out that he was on the expert panelists. It would have been helpful if he explained that because I was wondering why he was quizzing us. Anyway, I had a family emergency at the time and had difficulty following the conversation. As dinner went on, the emergency resolved and I was able to enjoy my dinner of chicken breast stuffed with spinach and cheese, asparagus, and rice.

This stuffed chicken is similar to what I had for dinner.
 Maureen Flaherty spoke for a short time and told us that every 10 minutes or so we were going to switch tables. I figured the concept was similar to speed-dating. We would each move around to different tables with a different topic and the expert panelists would stay seated at their tables. Some of the other topics were information systems, ethics, global human resources, employee relations, total rewards, etc. Employee relations was my favorite topic and had the greatest interaction between all the students. The last topic I was at was total rewards. Dessert showed up as we began talking. It was a chocolate molten lava cake with a berry compote.

This turned out to be the best meal that I had on the entire trip. I would say more about each table topic but right as the discussion reached any depth, I had to move to another table.

After dinner, AP and I changed into cooler clothes and walked to the strip. We stopped by Walgreens for bottled water and sunscreen. We walked to Encore and walked through a bit of the casino. We suddenly felt a but under-dressed. Everyone else in our group was at Harrahs but we were too tired to go that far. We figured by the time a cab or bus got us there that we would be ready to head back. We decided we were just too tired and headed back to the hotel.

Day 1 at conference