I’ve missed only one QRCA conference. since I joined the organization in 1996. Since 1998, I’ve attended every annual conference. 2019 in Savannah will be no exception.
So why do I keep on going year after year after year?
I’m a big believer in professional development. I believe in the concept of education being a never-ending process — a lifelong endeavor.
Before I became an independent QRC, I had worked for a large corporate marketing research supplier that firmly espoused the idea of continuing education. I was encouraged and paid to attend relevant conferences and other educational events each year. When I went independent, I wanted to continue that tradition, and I was easily able to do so through QRCA.
Attending the QRCA conference is like getting a flu shot every year. Immersion in the conference experience (even as a passive listener) offers a form of protection. It reminds me of things I already know (but can easily forget), it allows me to learn about new techniques, and it exposes me to what’s looming on the horizon. And of course, the conference allows me to hob-nob (in-person!) with my peers — whether they are independents like me or are part of larger firms. That protective “shot” eventually wears off, so I make sure I get inoculated again by returning the next year.
In my early conference-going years, I studied the program diligently to evaluate whether it was worth my while … whether I’d get anything out of attending that year’s conference. The listed program never came up short, so I always attended.
Over the years, I stopped worrying about the program content, because I knew deep in my bones that I would come away with at least one new valuable insight about myself and my practice, or that I’d get a spark to pursue something that I’d never thought of before. It happens at every conference. The expense of attending has always been outweighed by what I returned home with.
It’s a never-ending process. The learnings from a conference will enable me to climb a rung (or two!), but once I’ve reached that rung, another one always comes into sight. So I am compelled to attend again and again and again.
I also look at QRCA conference attendance as a reward to stay in the profession. Sure, some years are better than others. And in those down years, it seems like it may be an unaffordable luxury to attend. But even in those down years, I always find others in the same boat as me at the conference, and we support each other emotionally to carry on and continue.
So, until I retire, I see myself attending every QRCA conference. For the inspiration. For the camaraderie. For helping me to be the best QRC I can be.
By: Jeff Walkowski
Jeff Walkowski is the principal of QualCore.com Inc., a consulting firm providing traditional and online qualitative research services to a wide range of industries including health care, financial services, automotive, and information services. He was schooled as a quantitative specialist and entered the industry in the 1980s as a statistician. He later discovered his talents as a moderator and evolved into a qualitative specialist by the mid-1990s.
Web: www.QualCore.com, www.OnlineModerator.com
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