Jenny Baker
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The SIOP Ambassador Program Creates Rewarding Experiences and Professional Relationships

Annie Simpson, Ambassador Program, SIOP Membership Committee

Joining new groups can be very intimidating, especially for someone as introverted as I am. Sometimes I find it difficult to introduce myself in new settings or join community events where I never have before. The unknown can be scary. In preparation for the 2021 Conference I decided to sign up for the Ambassador Program as a way to ease myself into the conference atmosphere. Getting one on one time with my ambassador helped to ease a lot of my anxiety, because I was able to talk with someone about the conference on my own terms; I couldn’t just hide in the background, otherwise, that would have been a very uneventful conversation for my ambassador. We were able to connect easily before the conference, and she shared tips for the upcoming event, and we got the chance to discuss our common interests and goals. I found the Ambassador Program to be key in my satisfaction with the conference. In fact, I enjoyed the program so much that I signed up to volunteer with the membership committee this year so I can help pass along the positive experience I had.

–Jamie Smith (2020 Ambassador Program, Newcomer)

Ambassador Program experiences like Jamie’s are, fortunately, not unique. According to the Ambassador Program survey conducted after the 2021 conference, the vast majority (85%) of Newcomers were overall satisfied with their Ambassador Program experience. In addition, Newcomers were satisfied with the relationship they had with their ambassador as well as the matching process. For instance, one Newcomer survey respondent emphasized how amazing their ambassador was and what a difference their Ambassador’s tips and insights made on their first SIOP experience, especially considering the virtual format of 2021.

Ambassadors also report enjoying the program just as much as Newcomers do. The postconference survey showed that 88% of Ambassadors were satisfied with the program, and 78% reported wanting to participate as an Ambassador again in the future! Ambassadors were particularly satisfied with communication with their Newcomer before the conference as well as their match. Furthermore, about 90% of Ambassadors indicated they were open or likely to continue communicating with their Newcomer after the conference. According to one Ambassador, “My Newcomer and I hit it off and we’re both looking forward to a long-term, professional friendship.” Another Ambassador stated the program was a “great opportunity to connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise get to meet.” The Ambassador Program is a great way to expand your network in the I-O community and create lasting professional relationships that help new conference attendees navigate the sessions. We’d love you to participate!

Other insightful feedback from the postconference survey has helped us understand how we can improve the program as well as the Newcomer and Ambassador experiences. Specifically, this year’s Ambassador Program Committee has been focused on

  • Actively working on ways to better facilitate preconference communication between Newcomers and their Ambassadors,
  • Increasing networking opportunities, and
  • Ensuring all parties remain engaged throughout the program.

Our Newcomer base continues to remain strong, with over 25% of SIOP conference attendees who are first-time Newcomers. With the annual conference growing every year, SIOP can be an overwhelming (and exhilarating) experience, particularly for those who are new to the event. Since 2010, the SIOP Ambassador Program has supported our newest attendees by matching them with previous conference attendees willing to share what they’ve learned and pass along knowledge to support Newcomer success.

Serving as an Ambassador is a relatively small time commitment that can have a tremendous impact on first-time SIOP attendees, including providing a positive introduction to the SIOP community.  Anyone wanting to participate as an Ambassador or Newcomer can sign up within the 2022 SIOP Annual Conference registration process, which is open now. We encourage everyone—from graduate students who are more advanced in their programs, recent graduates in academic or applied jobs, or more veteran SIOP members—to consider showing a first-time SIOP conference attendee the ropes.  

A table with the program requirements for each role can be found below. 

Ambassadors

Newcomers

Program requirement

Registered for 2022 SIOP Annual Conference

 

Has already attended at least one annual conference

 

Attending for the first time

Agree to follow all program expectations

Provide information needed for matching process

 

Review available Ambassadors and select preferred match

 

Confirm Newcomer match invitation

Connect by email or phone at least once before the conference

Meet at least once in person at the conference

 

We’re very excited about the 2022 SIOP Ambassador Program and look forward to your participation! Keep an eye out for this year’s program campaign and help us #MakeAConnection with someone new to SIOP.  If you have any questions about the Ambassador Program contact us at siopambassador@gmail.com or visit our web page: siop.org/Annual-Conference/Registration-and-Resources/Overall-Ambassador-Program.

If you had an experience with the Ambassador Program that you would like to share or photos of you with your Ambassador or Newcomer, please email us at siopambassador@gmail.com. For example, have you continued your professional relationship beyond the conference in which you met? Have you had a research project or SIOP or other conference presentations with your Ambassador or Newcomer? Do you now work with your Ambassador or Newcomer? 

We’d love to hear your stories about being a Newcomer or Ambassador!

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