Tips for Participants: What to Expect at NYYI 2017

The New York Youth Institute is a life changing experience. There is something offered for everyone to enjoy, and workshops and speakers that will cater to your desired topic. The work you put in to get to Cornell University will pay off ten-fold. You will have the opportunity to speak with doctors, researchers, alumni, and supporters of the NYYI, and learn from their experiences abroad.

The course of events you will partake in during this two-day conference will be memorable; tours of research labs, lectures from global economists and world-renowned scientists, and one-on-one conversations with professors and World Food Prize laureates during meals and down-time.

The whole experience may sound daunting, but making the most of the time you have at Cornell will be beneficial in the long run. Here are some tips to make the most of your trip:

  1. Make contacts. Becoming friends with people that have made a global impact during their career is a smart move. Even if you only get their email address or office phone number, it’s a form of contact. During a face-to-face conversation with them at the conference, make your concerns and recommendations heard. Then, a month or so after the conference, follow up with them. If you have questions or ideas as to how they could help you in accomplishing something, ask them directly. If they say no, ask if they have other contacts that could lead you on your way. People in power like to see determination, drive, and perseverance in young scholars like yourself.

From this event, I became acquaintances with Per Pinstrup-Andersen, a World Food Prize laureate and Emeritus. He coached me during the conference and again in Iowa at the Global Youth Institute. He has had a profound impact on my life and in the decisions I have made regarding a future profession. I also became friends with Catherine Bertini, considered a legend in the world of agriculture and politics. She has been a role model of mine for some time now, and we regularly keep in touch.

  1. Ask questions. Curiosity will not hurt you; if you have a question, speak up. If you think it might be a dumb question, ask the person sitting next to you first. Being assertive will give you a leg up in the competition and let people know that you mean business. By asking questions, you are letting the speaker know that you are interested in what they have to say and are willing to engage in outside conversation with them. It makes you look strong and competitive!

Many of the work shops I went to were geared towards college students from an Ivy League demographic, of which I do not belong to. By asking questions and having the speakers elaborate on their points, I was able to understand the message being sent. I learned more and discovered more about the agriculture field because I asked questions and was assertive.

  1. Establish your goals. You are at Cornell because you are a humanitarian in training. You want to help people by bettering their lives, economy, environment, or living and working conditions. Tell people that! Let them know that you want to be a senator, supreme court justice, ambassador, or lobbyist for the people. Your reputation is determined by you and how you put yourself out there. If you have a ground breaking idea, tell someone that you think can encourage and assist you along the way.

By telling my peers and advisors why I had an interest in humanitarian affairs, I was setting myself up for a future of accountability. I used my contacts as a sounding board for ideas and valued their feedback and suggestions. They told me what would work, what would not, what path to take to accomplish the goal, and who to use as a resource for further research.

If you actively enjoy yourself during the NYYI, you will have the best time of your life. Remember to walk with confidence, practice your prepared speaking bit and deep breaths, and get a good night sleep before the festivities begin!

Emma Murphy is a 2016 participant in the New York Youth Institute, and a Delegate to the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute

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