Greetings from Austin, Texas!
This past week I spent my time at a Social and Personality Psychology conference in Austin where I presented my research, went to a lot of interesting lectures and most of all made CONNECTIONS!
Conferences are an opportunity for established professors, graduate students and undergraduates to get together and really focus in on the work they’ve been doing over the past year. I myself was able to present my honor’s thesis project at a poster session during the conference and be a co-author on another poster. In this blog I will give you some insider info on how to maximize a conference trip and make attending conferences a staple for any undergraduate’s career.
- The first time you attend a conference see if you can go as more of a spectator than a presenter. This will ease the pressure and help you get into the material being presented and the overall lay of the land when it comes to a conference (believe me the whole experience is an action packed sequence of events so be prepared to move, move, move)
- If you are presenting, prepare your materials ahead of time and practice as much as possible because you are not in the little leagues but instead are speaking to some of the world’s foremost thinkers in the subject area(s)
- Dress professionally and act professionally at all times. This may seem obvious but you never know who is watching at a restaurant or in the elevator and it may just be a future mentor you applied to work for at a graduate program
- Bring business cards and be prepared to give out lots of contact information because one of the biggest benefits to attending a conference is connecting and setting up future collaborations
- Step out of your comfort zone and attend an event or lecture you may not be completely informed about. Most of the time you are just listening in the audience so the stakes are low but you never know where you will get a new idea or inspiration
- Enjoy the conference site! Seriously a lot of effort goes into the conference city selection and getting out to sight-see is another way to run into people from the conference as well as experience some great culture, music, food and historical sites
If you are considering graduate school in the slightest I definitely recommend finding a conference to attend because you will meet so many future connections that really help you get into programs to work toward your bright future! Ask advisors in your major, organize with a group of people in your research lab or club, work with your current mentor or professor to identify conferences that may work for you, and absolutely put in the investment because the return is incredible!