On Saturday, the 2nd of March 2019, I attended the TEDx event “Identifying Identity”. This was my first TED event, and it was really a great one. The range of speakers was quite extensive: Niklas Kebbon (the Swedish ambassador to Morocco), Camélia Meftoul (a young civil engineer), Yassine Motaouakkil (a young professional), Zohreh Tabatabai (a former UN staff member that spoke about the variety of identities, and brought the topic back to the simple notion that we are all human beings), Magdalena Kowalczyk (a former boxer, an actress and generally a really cool person), and Florian Langenscheidt, among many others.
There is always something empowering and inspiring about attending conferences. Not only are you in a room full of people that have accomplished amazing things, but you have the opportunity to go up to each and everyone of them and introduce yourself. This is something that we, young people, need to start doing more. Unfortunately, conferences and networking skills are not talked about in school. We may know about functions, graphs, and that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, but we don’t learn vital skills such as successful networking.
Now don’t get me wrong, networking isn’t easy. It takes a lot of confidence to put your ego/self consciousness aside and to go up to people that you find intimidating. My mindset in these contexts is simple: just introduce yourself, what you do, and let the conversation run its course. What’s the worse thing that can happen? The person won’t like you. But, at least, they will know that you exist. You may realise that some aren’t interested in talking or listening to you, don’t worry about it. At least you tried, you said your name, and you have an open door to contacting them in the future (Hello! We met at X conference. I hope everything is going well. I was wondering if…– you get me).
Another thing you might get out of going to a conference is the inspiration to, one day, be on this very stage. I know I felt that way! Especially when the topic is something you greatly relate to, you might just feel like you have to resist the urge to jump on the stage and give a speech to. Take this inspiration and work towards making this wish and urge a reality! These things are usually about having the right contacts and showing to others that you have something to share– hence why networking is so important.
All in all, it was a great experience. I met fellow Germans, and generally was in awe of the fact alone that I was in Marrakech for such a conference. The location definitely played a role in this feeling– the Saadi Palace is incredible.
I seriously encourage all to try to attend (and/or speak at) more conferences. Not only is this a great way to add to your CV, but it’s a wonderful way to develop new perspectives.