Because there are already several wonderful blogs capturing the aha moments at Cannexus, I thought I would highlight three observations within our two-week learning experience that made me incredibly proud to be part of our community. My intention is that these reflections serve to both “fan the fire” that we collectively created and help us build on our collective strengths as a community of career development professionals (CDPs).
Observation #1: Adapting and integrating Cannexus learning into our (hectic) routines
I observed attendees on social media, through their reflective posts, taking advantage of the on-demand and recorded sessions throughout the two-week period. People integrated learning within their pandemic-lifestyle schedules, which brought a unique opportunity to approach conference learning in shorter, more digestible ways. I know that some colleagues made the most of the experience by even integrating exercise and the outdoors with listening to recordings of the sessions – because why not!? As I like to say, this digital experience allows us to “feed two birds with one scone.” It’s that level of adaptability and innovation that will continue to propel each of us and our profession forward.
Observation #2: Drawing connections between the virtual conference experience and our clients’ lived experiences
It wouldn’t be a virtual conference without some technical hurdles. There was one instance in particular where attendees were unable to get into a session. Despite their frustration, once they were admitted, many reflected on the parallels that this brief inconvenience had with the challenges and frustrations that their remote clients must have experienced when pivoting online. They expressed appreciation to the organizing committee for all their hard work and troubleshooting and chalked it up to part of this new and somewhat challenging fully online learning experience. And no, I don’t feel that it’s coincidental that the session they attended discussed empathy. Having been to my fair share of virtual conferences this year, this topped the list for the nicest reaction to technical issues. It’s no wonder we CDPs can effectively help our clients reframe their circumstance and encourage them to consider, “How can I still make the best out of the situation I’m in?” Inspiring hope is certainly ingrained in us as CDPs.
Observation #3: Leading inclusive, thought-provoking topics that touch on today’s largest issues
Take a look at the topics that were covered at Cannexus this year; we didn’t cover “safe” concepts. Instead, presenters addressed some of our country’s most pressing issues head-on: social justice, EDI, trauma and resilience, career development with diverse populations (such as BIPOC, people with disabilities, mature workers, Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQ2S+); AI and technology; mental and emotional health; and online learning. Our professional community is continuing to do important work to advance the idea that career development is everywhere; it is a pervasive topic that touches on all aspects of our lives. We can help move the so-called needle in so many areas. Pivoting online also enabled us to feature a record number of international experts – an excellent reminder that we are part of a global movement that sees “career development for the public good.”
It’s no coincidence that the three reflections highlight our resilience, adaptability and keenness for continual learning. They exemplify a career mindset – something we aspire to instill in our clients.
We’ve built some incredible momentum. Let’s keep it going:
- Share your learning with your colleagues; if they were also attending Cannexus, even better, because you have a support group of folks to debrief and continuing learning together.
- Share your learning with people outside of our career development profession. Your lessons can help them better understand that career transcends beyond the notion of work and occupation, because as we know, it’s so much more.
As advised by the final keynote, the Honourable Ethel Blondin-Andrew: Continue to learn. Continue to grow. I would add also: Continue to connect. I personally intend to take full advantage of the one-year access to review the conference sessions I missed and to revisit the sessions I felt were most impactful. Think of it like a Netflix playlist of career development (thanks Albert Fung from SFU for this idea!). And, instead of sitting down to look even more at your screen, consider the walk and work approach where you simply listen to the audio of a session while you get in some exercise (thanks Liesl Jurock from SFU and Lisa Taylor from Challenge Factory for this one!). I also plan to reach out to the presenters and share what resonated with me and how I intend to incorporate their knowledge in my practice.
Put simply: I’m grateful to be a part of this wonderful CDP community and to have learned virtually with “my people” over what turned out to be an incredible two-week conference journey. Let’s think about how we can turn these pivotal moments into powerful movements.