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What happens at a conference….

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“What happens at a conference?”

The most innovative and groundbreaking research is presented at academic conferences. It is an opportunity for you to learn new things, meet new people, and travel to new places. Every conference has a different style, vibe, and energy. With the right planning, a conference can be an amazing experience.

“Why should I check it out?”

Conferences are a fabulous opportunities for academic and professional development. Sacramento State offers funding for students who want to go to conferences because they understand how important it is for your career! It is a great way to enhance your CV, an academic profile of your college experience. Oftentimes, conferences offer awards for best presentations or papers. Many conferences also give a lot of cool freebies away. They sometimes even feed you, providing catered meals, coffee, refreshments, and coffee. Did I mention coffee?

“Who attends conferences?”

The individuals who attend conferences are the doers and the thinkers. They are the individuals who want to learn and expand their knowledge, and to meet other people in their field. There are conferences for all types of disciplines. Whether you are a chemistry major looking for a place to discuss your research, or an undeclared major looking for a place to network and learn interviewing skills, there is something out there for everyone.

“When will I find time for this?”

As students, we have so many places to be with so little time. Many conferences take place for a few days near the end of the week, often Thursday through Sunday. Some conferences offer the option of attending for only one day, and some conferences are only a few hours long. However, you should give yourself plenty of time to organize your plan, especially if you are submitting work for presentation.

“Where can I find out more information?”

Ask around in your department. Ask your department chair, full time faculty, and graduate students what conferences they will be attending this academic year. They tend to be in the know about the big conferences in your discipline. Not only are your professors great sources of advice for which conferences to go to, but they will also introduce you to other professionals in the industry.  They can even give you advice about funding opportunities to cover travel and registration expenses.

“How do I learn more information?”

Read on! Here are three tips to help you make the most out of going to a conference.

1)Make a Game Plan:

Prepare yourself in advance for the activities that you wish to attend, which lectures are really interesting to you, and which individuals you want to meet. Have questions prepared. Always be ready to take notes, to hand out a business card, and to make a good impression. At conferences where attendees are often staying at the same hotel, you never know whom you will run into. Have your outfits planned so that you are not bumping into a future employer wearing your pajamas. Most importantly, know what you want to get out of the conference. Whether it is getting your research noticed by a faculty member, making a connection with an important figure, or learning a specific skill, make the most of your experience.

2)Make it a mini-vacation!

Make it a mini-vacation! Oftentimes, conferences are held in tourist locations. I have attended conferences in Atlanta, Georgia and Niagara Falls, New York, and the upcoming conferences I plan to attend are located in Honolulu, Hawaii and Reno, Nevada. Conferences provide for a way for one to temporarily break away from the routine, and surround oneself with likeminded individuals who need a break from their hectic lives. Bring a friend or two to make it more fun, and it takes the pressure off of you.

3)Establish Connections:

Conferences provide great networking opportunities for individuals looking to expand their professional circles. Building a strong community of individuals to support you is very important if you are trying to be successful at anything that you do. Conferences allow you to meet like-minded individuals who are in your field and on the same path as you. You can also meet individuals who have been around for a while and can help you get to where you want to be. Presenting at conferences is an invaluable way to introduce your own work and get your name out there in the professional community. In addition, it is always great to receive feedback regarding your work to boost motivation and help to improve research methods. Make sure to follow-up with the people you meet!

Stay tuned for more articles on networking.