Tips for First Timers at This Year’s WIP Conference

Nicole Wylie

When I walked into my first WIP conference in 2015, I got flashbacks to my first day of high school.  I scanned the room, feeling those familiar butterflies that everyone gets when they’re the new kid.  I had no expectations, only excitement to meet other women (at that point, the majority of the people I worked with were men), and was overwhelmed by how well everyone already seemed to know each other.

I picked a table at random and the woman next to me struck up a conversation.  My neighbor was a true parking professional – smart, empowered, and completely plugged into our industry.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that the person taking the time to put me at ease was one of the most visible people in parking (and our current Associate Director of WIP): Laura Longsworth!

Throughout the rest of that conference, I felt welcomed and listened to, and I learned a lot.  I knew that I wanted to stay involved.  The next year, I was excited for the keynote speaker, Nadia Bilchik – she did not disappoint.  She was dynamic, engaging and so encouraging for us to be strong female leaders in our industry (before the #MeToo Movement).  I saw so many of the familiar faces I first met the year prior and was able to make some new friends, too.

If this is your first WIP conference, welcome!  Here’s an idea of what you can expect, and what you can look forward to experiencing:

  • Meeting many strong (but welcoming!) personalities from across the country
  • Having conversations that will challenge and inspire you
  • Attending high-quality sessions on relevant topics in our industry
  • Fantastic networking opportunities – both personally and professionally!

I enthusiastically recommend that you be open to meeting new people; this is a great group to engage with, and you’re likely to see their faces at other events throughout the year.  Participating and voicing your thoughts, even if they’re not the most popular ones, will lead to respectful and rewarding discussions.  A variety of perspectives help us all learn from one another so we can stay open-minded as our industry continues to evolve.

At this year’s WIP conference, I’m excited for the keynote speaker and diversity workshops; as the #MeToo movement continues, this will be something that is talked about more and more, and companies (if they aren’t already making changes) will need to start assessing workplace equality and diversity moving forward.