SPESA President Michael McDonald Talks Industry with NCSU Students

A group of undergraduate students from the North Carolina State University Wilson College of Textiles stopped by the SPESA office last week to speak with SPESA President Michael McDonald about trade associations and trade shows.

Pulling from his own experience as both an industry professional and Ph.D. candidate, McDonald told the students: “Trade shows are invaluable for students — you can learn what’s really happening in the industry and make connections that will help establish your career.”

When asked how students should prepare when attending a trade show for the first time, McDonald gave two pieces of advice

  1. Bring business cards for yourself — even if you don't have a job, even if it only has your name and email on it. Business cards can be a helpful ice-breaker if you are nervous to start a conversation with someone or a good way to request someone else's contact info by exchanging cards. More importantly, they might help a future contact or employer remember your name.
  2. Look up the exhibitors in advance — many trade shows will post their exhibitors lists online ahead of the show. Doing a little bit of research could help you plan who you want to meet at the show and give you an opportunity to learn more about them in advance. However, make sure to be flexible as well. One of the great benefits of a trade show is having an opportunity to learn about new companies as you stop by their booths.

His final piece of advice: "It’s going to be overwhelming at first — get comfortable with getting in there and talking to people."

SPESA looks forward to hosting students at the upcoming Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference, Feb. 27, in Raleigh, NC. The conference is being held in collaboration with the Techtextil North America trade show.