By Cierra Goldstein

If you have not been to one of the annual International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) conferences, then you do not know what you are missing. This past April, I attended my first ISPI conference in Reno, NV, and discovered the great potential for networking connections and learning. As a university student volunteer, I received the unique and wonderful opportunity to be part of the conference at a young age. The experiences I gained will last a lifetime. Whether you are just starting out or are already a seasoned professional, I highly recommend you join us next year in Indianapolis and see what I mean.

Arguably, the most important reason to attend is to network and form connections with other professionals. ISPI embraces this potential and creates opportunities to enhance attendees’ ability to make these connections. One of my favorite parts of the Reno conference was the “Speed Networking” session. During this event, rising professionals met with more experienced mentors from around the world to make connections and gain advice. Before and after this event, networking was identified as a clear priority during the conference. There were even scheduled “networking breaks.” So bring your business cards, LinkedIn information, and be ready to connect!

Still not convinced that you should plan your trip to ISPI next year? As awesome as it is, the opportunity to make wonderful connections is not the only reason to attend. The diverse range of learning sessions offered is also hugely important. As a graphic design student with courses in instructional design, I came to the world of performance improvement not knowing what to expect. At first I worried that my background and interests would be outside the scope of the materials covered at the conference, but instead was pleasantly surprised to find my days packed with interesting sessions. I especially enjoyed the team challenges several sessions included as this gave an opportunity to network and learn at the same time.

My first-time experience at the ISPI conference will not be soon forgotten. It was a great way to round out my senior year at CSU, Chico, and I feel lucky to have been able to attend as a college student. If you do decide to join us next year, take my advice: Schedule which events you want to attend ahead of time so you do not miss out on your favorites. Hope to see you there!

About the Author
Cierra just graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Chico, with a Bachelor of Arts in communication design, option in graphic design, and the minor in photographic studies. She took courses in instructional design; wrote a weekly tutorial column in the university’s award-winning newspaper, The Orion; and is currently freelancing while seeking full-time employment. She can be found online at and reached by email at