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August 09, 2007

ALPFA National Convention

I got back to Seattle from a trip to the ALPFA National Convention last night and must say the convention was awesome!  Having 2400+ Latinos from the business world at Disney World in Orlando made for awesome networking, friends, dancing, and after parties! :)

The convention started off Friday night with a Salsa Competition that I took part in with my friend Nerelys.  The first time we had danced together was last Wednesday, and it showed a bit on the dance floor by the judges comments, haha.  Saturday was pretty slow until the reception that night with salsa dancing following immediately afterwards. 

Sunday was a lot of fun.  I was on the University of Washington KPMG Case Competition team, and we gave our presentation on a fictitious company called InfoMemo that needed to raise $15 million from investors to do the marketing and sales for a hybrid pda/laptop it had developed.  I worked on applying what I've learned from reading Logic+Emotion and Presentation Zen.  The part I presented was the Financial Analysis section, and I received a lot of compliments for the two, colorful tables I had (the case competition was mostly for accounting students, so lots of text and big quotations tended to be the norm). [link to  slideshow]

One thing I learned during the presentation was that you can use your nervousness right before you present to your advantage.  People will tell you that if you sense your heart rate increasing that you should take a couple of deep breaths to settle down, although I've noticed this tends to decrease your energy level during the presentation and make you less animated.  I've given quite a few presentations, but right before it was handed-off to me, my heart rate doubled and I became pretty nervous.  I took one deep breath, noticed it didn't do anything, said "screw it", and gave my presentation.  By not trying to calm myself down, I believe my presentation was much more animated than it would have been, due to the combination of adrenaline and extra oxygen in my body. 

Sadly, we didn't end up making the finals for competition, but this did allow us to go out and dance the night away, without worrying about waking-up at 6am (3am Seattle time, my usual bedtime).  Monday night, we went to Epcot for the case reception, mingled with the other college students, and were able to watch the fireworks display outside on a private boardwalk.  The one thing I wish they would've added was a dance after the reception, because it was a perfect time for all the students to get to know each other, and good quarter or half of them were under 21 and not able to take advantage of the club scene at Pleasure Island.

Tuesday was the grand finale with a career fair in the morning and a gala at Epcot at night.  I was surprised at how quickly many of the recruiters asked you what kind of position you wanted with them, instead of getting to learn about you more.  About half of them asked me within the first two sentences they spoke to me.  Not being interested in getting a job, I instead told them about how I'm working on Mavenry.  For a couple of the companies, I was genuinely interested in learning more about their products and services, and I was further surprised that none of them pitched me about their services after I told them I was working at a start-up.  You would think they'd like the idea of someone paying them, instead of them paying someone else, *shrug*.

The gala that night was a blast!  The program went a little longer but it was a lot of fun being able to meet a table of people from E+Y and Silicon Valley.  Towards the end, we were able to go out and watch the fireworks display again on a private deck.  This time it seemed we were much closer and the fireworks aimed more directly at us.  I get excited when I see well orchestrated fireworks displays and felt a bit giddy inside at the sight of it.  Once inside, we saw a couple more awards handed out, some prizes given away, and then it was time to dance the night away (for my fourth time, haha). 

I can't wait until I'm able to travel more and attend conventions and conferences like this more frequently.  It's awesome when you're able to meet so many smart, determined, fun loving people in one place.

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