Five Things To Do as an Early Professional at Convention

April 19, 2024 by Kristin Carroll
Five Experiences for Young Professionals


The 75th NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo, June 25-28 in New Orleans, is approaching – and registration is now open. As we get ready for convention, NATA Now is looking back at convention history as well as what to know about NATA 2024.

Athletic trainers in the first six years of their certification have several opportunities to network, learn and grow at convention. Emily Mulkey, MS, LAT, ATC, chair of the NATA Early Professionals’ Committee, said the most important thing an early professional can do at convention is spend time learning and collaborating with others. A close second is earning CEUs in sessions. Check out the schedule to find all of the events open to you.

“Convention offers a really unique experience to have ATs from all experiences, backgrounds, etc., in one place,” she said. “Take in a little of everything and form your own opinions. See how you can make an impact for the profession in your position, however that looks. Every professional can help move the needle forward and hearing ideas and opinions helps you figure out how you can do that.”

If you’re looking for a place to start when building your NATA 2024 schedule, here are five suggestions from Mulkey.


1. Take Advantage of the Social Events

There are a variety of social events at the 75th NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo, from the 75th Convention Anniversary Celebration to the NATA Happy Hour. These events are a great opportunity to make professional connections with other ATs.

“Convention is the best time to reconnect with old friends and to make new ones,” Mulkey said. “The free social events are a must to get the full experience of convention. Meet at least five new people and follow up! This can be other EPs at social events, your district director at the District Meeting, a speaker after a session you love, a hall of fame member in a green blazer or someone whose shoes you really love. Introduce yourself and follow up via email a week or two after the convention. These contacts expand your network and can be extremely valuable in the future! The follow up is the key to making a true connection that will last.”

Watch the Special Events page on the website for more social opportunities, such as alumni parties.


2. Come to the Early Professionals’ Committee Town Hall

New this year, EPC and the NATA Career Advancement Committee will team up to host the Early Professionals’ Committee and Career Advancement Committee Town Hall from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. June 27. During the town hall, hear from both committees about their priorities for the coming year. Each committee will also present its committee’s award, the Early Professionals' Excellence Award and the Career Advancing National Distinction Award, both of which recognize young ATs making an immediate and significant impact on the profession.

“Come hear and discuss victories and challenges within the profession, meet new people and see what open service positions are available at the EPC town hall,” Mulkey said. “No gimmicks or agendas included, just real-life ATs discussing how we can all better the profession together.”


3. Visit the On-Site Career Center

The online NATA Career Center is the largest job board for athletic trainers, and it’s exclusively available to NATA members. During convention, job seekers will be able to browse the on-site job boards, have their résumé reviewed by someone in the athletic training profession, get a complimentary professional headshot taken, connect with hiring managers regarding open positions and even interview with potential employers in person. Prepare for your visit with the Job Seekers Checklist, and prepare to find your new role.

“One of the best parts of convention is the access to new opportunities right at your fingertips,” Mulkey said. “The Career Center allows you to network in real time, discuss job options and even interview for some positions. There’s no other time you can get this many job opportunities all in one place with face-to-face access.”


4. Visit the AT Expo

The AT Expo is the world’s largest showcase of products and services for the athletic training profession, featuring more than 250 exhibitors, covering more than 50 product categories and 45,000 square feet of the show floor.

Visit your favorite exhibitors and discover new vendors while you learn about the latest products and services. The AT Expo offers a place like nowhere else for athletic trainers to source, learn and purchase products.

“The AT Expo is a fantastic resource for ATs of all settings and experience levels,” Mulkey said. “Not only can your purchase things for your practice, but you can talk with reps and learn about tools, systems and much more. It’s a great place to put ideas into reality and find tangibles to advance your clinical practice. Even if you are not in charge of ordering or have little ability to influence ordering at your work, that's OK! Try new things and collect some free swag.”

The AT Expo opens with a short celebration at 9 a.m. June 26, and will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 26-27.


5. Attend the Opening Sessions

Each day at convention starts with an opening session bringing all attendees together to kick off the day ahead. Each day will feature updates from NATA as well as insight from leadership and entertainment.

“The daily opening session is something new at convention this year that is an exciting change!” Mulkey said. “It is wonderful to start the day with colleagues before splitting off, sharing in celebrations of our peers and getting extremely important information. It kicks the day off with a note of togetherness that I’m really looking forward to having each day.”