One of the things I was disappointed in when I was gearing up to go to FNCE as a Dietetic Student last year was how little information there was on what the experience was like. Not just in general but also in relation to student attendees!
I attended a few webinars that provided some tips and tricks for new FNCE attendees but a lot of it was geared towards dietitians, not students.
Anyways lack of info aside, I am sharing with you a student’s guide to FNCE to hopefully provide you with helpful insights into the experience.
Just a side note, I attended as a Dietetic Technician Student and while I am graduated now and moving on to become an RD, I will say it felt kind of isolating never being addressed in the talks. It felt as if the DTR part of the profession was ignored completely throughout everything. So this is me shouting out, WE EXIST!
Aside from that, there were a lot of sessions to pick from. There was also a specially curated student track of sessions you could attend. However, I didn’t attend any (mostly because my Dietetic Internship in my DTR program had covered most of the topics being discussed).
I ended up going quite a few sessions. My number one tip is to arrive at a session early because otherwise you might not get a seat and you might be stuck watching a live stream in another room.
My other tip is don’t let the sessions intimidate you! A lot of the sessions sounded to be super science heavy and I was worried a lot of it would go over my head, and some of it did. However, being exposed to this information is invaluable. It primes you for class discussion you might have in your future and helps you retain related information in the future. Not to mention, most of the speakers I watched did an excellent job of breaking things down into mostly understandable terms.
So basically, don’t let the sessions intimidate you! There is always something valuable you can get out of it, even if some things are a bit over your head.
The Expo Floor:
If you end up not liking a session you are in and aren’t really interested in any others (or don’t want to show up late to one), head to the expo floor. It’s the best time because it’s not yet packed.
I’m telling you during the lunch break, that floor is barely walkable and is full of lines! Granted a lot of it is because vendors are giving out free samples that will end up being your lunch… it still makes navigating the floor difficult.
So try to make some time outside of the lunch period to visit too!
My goal was to try to meet with every vendor. In hindsight, this was a silly goal.
I think a good place to start is to go through the exhibitor list and mark which booths you absolutely want to stop by and then just wing it from there.
Tips & Tricks
Bring a Sturdy Empty Tote
Do you have a bag that everyone jokingly calls a black hole? Bring it! That bag was made to shine at this event!
You will pick up lots of free goodies (and other totes) from the expo floor so having a sturdy bag to carry them all around with is important!
I didn’t bring along a sturdy tote bad and ended up having the straps on the bags I was using, break on me.
On this note, make sure you leave room in your suitcase for the stuff you pick up! Meaning, pack light! When I attended in 2017 I got some awesome kitchen gear (aprons, spatulas, collapsable colanders, etc.) that I got to take home!
Have an Elevator Speech Prepared
Being able to confidently and shamelessly promote yourself is powerful. You never know who you’re going to meet and how they can impact your life.
Having an elevator speech or 30-second sound bite that conveys who you are and where you want to be can be a huge game changer.
I regret not having one prepared the last time I went. There were so many opportunities where it could have been helpful.
Don’t be afraid to talk to people
It is overwhelming being surrounded by so many people! I mean this conference is busy.
Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the people sitting around you. Again, you never know who you might meet!
I’ll end this tip with this note, most if not everyone there is looking to network. I didn’t run into mean people from striking up conversations with those sitting around me. Just take a deep breath and introduce yourself (and maybe throw in your elevator speech).
Plan out what sessions you want to attend beforehand
I was so excited to attend FNCE last year that I was researching speakers and sessions far in advance. Maximize your time and reduce stress by reading through the sessions list when/before you arrive. Use this time to make note of the sessions you’re interested in. This will allow you to formulate some sort of game plan.
I mean what better way to use your downtime in the airport or on the plane than by reading up on the sessions available?
The FNCE app is so helpful for doing this! It helps you see what vendors are on the EXPO floor and it lists all of the available sessions. It also allows you to build your own schedule using the sessions list!
Be prepared to take a lot of notes
If you’re anything like me, you need to take notes in order to cement what is being said! On top of that, taking notes is good for referencing things in the future as well.
My advice, be ready to take notes. Possibly bring a laptop to type on for when your hand cramps up.
Even as a college student taking 5+ classes at a time, my hand still cramped up. There is so much information being shared that you want to be ready!
Also, note that there are powerpoints and playback available after sessions in case you missed a slide or wanted to review. The powerpoints are also usually available in advance so consider printing them out if you do better with having visuals with you.
And there you have it! My experiences with FNCE and my top tips on making the most of your time there as a student!
Have any questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact me (via my contact me page or Instagram etc.)