When I received the notification that I could attend the 2018 AFCPE Symposium, thanks to a scholarship from FINRA Foundation for military spouse fellows, I had no idea how much of an impact it would have on me. How do you put into words the feeling of having your purpose fueled by new research and information, motivated by speakers shedding light and perspective on areas in your field, and being supported by strangers you just met? I am so grateful and overwhelmed by all of the experiences AFCPE organizers managed to squeeze into such a short time. The days flew by, however, their impact will last a lifetime.
The energy began a few weeks before the event. A Facebook page was set up, people commented and expressed their excitement, some asked for advice, and others provided tips. The sense of community was already taking form and revealing itself. As the event drew nearer, I was matched with a mentor. Our conversation was informative, and it was comforting to know I had a connection upon arrival. I would also get in contact with, and meet for the first time, another military spouse fellow who had mentored me when I was just beginning my path to AFC® certification.
I flew in on the day of the opening sessions, and due to a delayed connection, did not have much time to get my bearings before it all began. I had never been to a professional conference before, I had just tried Uber for the first time, and did not know a soul. What a whirlwind of experiences! I ran in flustered, and was greeted with warm smiles, given a bag of materials for my three days, and directed to my first session. Luckily my military spouse mentor had recommended I read the PDF program beforehand, so I knew exactly which session I wanted to go to. Finding my way was just as easy, as fellow attendees were all so helpful. From the moment I arrived, I felt as if I was a part of the group.
The days were filled with opportunities to learn and network. From the moment I sat down for breakfast to the final events of the night, I met others who not only had incredible resumes and experiences, but who were eager to share and connect. We were all there working towards the same goal; to help individuals reach financial security. You could feel the passion of the attendees all around you, all wanting to learn and make a difference. All willing to be honest and share their vulnerabilities.
During my three days at the conference, I not only learned information and techniques that will make an impact with my clients, I made friends. I am so grateful to be a part of the AFCPE community, which is made up of some of the most compassionate and motivated people I have ever met, and to FIRNA Foundation for supporting me down this path that gives me purpose, employability, and allows me to be of service to my community.
Guest Contributor: Valerie Richards