Find Your Direction: How NACCU Membership & Conference Participation Helped Me Navigate a New Career

Posted By: Kristy Manley Positive IDentity Blog,
Find Your Direction: How NACCU Membership and Conference Participation Helped Me Navigate a New Career

Kristy Manley
Card Services Coordinator
Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Kristy ManleyFew changes are as exciting and terrifying as switching careers. Boredom and frustration had taken over after spending years to reach my career goals.  I knew it was time to move on to a new path.

Determined to find a career that sparked my interest I found myself as the ID Services Coordinator at Northeastern State University. Surrounded by software, hardware and terminology I had never seen or heard of, I set out on a mission to learn everything I could about campus card services.

With the fear that I would never figure out a card office, I received an invoice for annual membership for NACCU. What is NACCU, I wondered? What comes with membership, and is it worth it? I quickly reached out to NACCU and soon had access to all the amazing resources I needed to succeed in my new role.

I commenced on a deep dive and clicked on every link on the NACCU website. I found clarification in the Terminology Guide, guidance on the NACCU Listserv, a multitude of resources in The Vault, and attended online events. I quickly learned if I wanted to truly excel in my new career I needed to take in all NACCU had to offer. It was then that I decided to attend the NACCU Annual Conference in Covington, Kentucky. 

Coming from a one-person card office I knew that the conference would be where I would really be able to embrace my new role. I felt the conference would be where all the skills I had learned from the NACCU listserv and website would come together. So I registered for the 2024 NACCU Annual Conference. Wanting to get the most out of the conference, I also signed up for the NACCU Mentor/Mentee program.

Networking started before I even arrived. I met several people at the airport all on our way to the conference. We discussed what sessions we were signed up for, and what programs, printers and door locks our institution uses. The Opening Reception allowed the opportunity to get the vibe for the upcoming conference. By the end of the reception my nerves had settled, and I was more excited than ever to learn everything I could over the next three days.

Entering the conference venue, I was struck by the excitement- fellow NACCU members, NACCU volunteers and vendors all around. The conference app made it so easy to know what was going on and where I should be. I had my schedule planned out and was ready to go.

It was easy to see that the leaders and volunteers had taken great care to curate a conference for card office professionals of all types. Keynote speakers delivered messages of hope and determination. Professional panels were engaging and informative. Breakout sessions were lead by experienced card office leaders. There were sessions available to cover any imaginable topic, including contracts, budgets, types of smart card, mobile IDs, applications, personal development and so much more. Each session left me feeling more confident and excited about myself and my role in ID Services at Northeastern State University.

And of course, no NACCU conference would be complete without a look into the future of the card services industry. Vendors from all aspects of card services were available in the exhibit hall, including familiar vendors we have all heard of and new vendors just emerging on the scene, all with the latest and greatest technology on display.

The exhibit hall and meals (which were delicious) provided some of the best opportunities for networking. NACCU leaders again did an excellent job of setting up a vibe in the exhibit hall and ballroom that allowed me to introduce myself and give my elevator pitch to other members and vendors in a fun and comfortable atmosphere. There was always just enough activity to ward off awkward silence but still time to discuss your department needs and bounce ideas off colleagues from universities and colleges from all across the US and Canada.

As the conference came to an end and it was time to say goodbye to new friends, I found myself already looking forward to the NACCU 2025 Annual Conference. Thinking back on the panels and sessions I had attended over the last few days I was surprised to realize how much I learned in such a short time. I knew that the information I had learned would make an immediate impact on me and in the ID Services office at NSU.

So the moral of the story is that NACCU membership and being able to attend the NACCU 2024 Annual Conference gave me the clarity and direction I was looking for to help card users across each campus of NSU, thanks to the leadership at Northeastern State and NACCU.