Attending the USBLN Conference

Erika Teasley, DO-IT Ambassador and Staff
Finding a mentor can be beneficial to a student, no matter what career field they decided to pursue.

In September, I attended the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) Conference in Orlando, Florida. The USBLN Conference is a great conference—it focuses on how businesses can approach disability inclusion, and other accessibility issues. Attendees are from disability owned business enterprises, as well as corporate partners like Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google. Attendees listen to experts on disability inclusion and people with disabilities about their experiences, in the workplace, including acceptance and accommodations.

I attended this event for numerous reasons. As the Student Advisory Council (SAC) Secretary, I serve as a recruiter for new SAC members. This has allowed me to mentor students and recent graduates through the Rising Leaders program at the conference. I answer questions and concerns as well as give advice to these individuals while attending.

I was also assigned as the Innovation Lab team facilitator. The Innovation Lab is an activity for the Rising Leaders. Teams of seven to eight work together to come up with a problem that can occur in the workplace, as well as possible solutions to that problem. This activity allows the Rising Leaders to learn how to work in a team, brainstorm, be vocal, prepare a presentation, and network with professionals. During this activity, I facilitated by leading the teams and answering questions.

Lastly, I was a part of the CareerLink Mentoring Program, where I was assigned to a mentor who could help me prepare for graduating college and entering the workforce. My mentor was able to answer questions on preparing to seek employment and how to best approach the professional world. While meeting with an on-campus career counselor can be helpful, they often don’t know how to answer my questions about how to effectively incorporate my disability in the workplace. My mentor had answers to those questions and helped me prepare myself on how to present myself, as well as my disability, to possible employers. Being a CareerLink Mentee allowed me to meet my mentor in person, as well as network with an entire community of mentors and mentees. I connected with people that my mentor thought I should network with. I left the conference with a network of professionals who offered to help me with reviewing my resume, providing feedback on my interviewing skills, and connecting me with recruiters in their companies.

The USBLN Conference provided a great opportunity to learn and utilize leadership skills as well as meet both mentees and mentors that will help in my professional development.