Conferences are golden for any graduate student, no matter what discipline you are in. So just to cut to the chase, go to as many as you can!
Here a few reasons why:
- You get to share your research: When the opportunities present themselves to submit proposals for conference presentations, go for it! You may have a paper that you wrote during your master’s program that was pretty darn fabulous and got you some really great feedback from a professor. Doctor on it a little and prepare it for submission. I was fortunate this summer to have a supervisor who encouraged me to work on proposals for conferences in my field using the work that I did with underrepresented high school students preparing for college. I submitted and was successful so now I will be presenting next month. Whether it’s work or class, individual or collaboration, it’s always a good idea to start early with conference proposals.
- Networking: One of the best things in life in meeting new people. But what’s even better is meeting new people who have similar interests as you AND who may can help you out in a professional or even personal way. I have met some great people at the conferences I have attended, some of whom I stay in contact with today. It’s so refreshing to be in a space where hundreds of other people really “get you” in terms of your research/career goals. Take advantage of these opportunities and rub elbows with the stars in your field. They just may be aligning in your favor 🙂
- Professional Vacay! If anyone tells you that conferences are great without mentioning that traveling to and exploring a cool new city is why they’re great, then they may not be telling you the whole truth. Attending different sessions and honing in on important skills and expertise are the primary components of Conference-Going 101, but it’s ok to be a tourist at the same time! Get to know the city, go to some good restaurants and hang-outs, meet some good people!
When you decide that you want to attend or present a conference, remember to apply for fellowships and do early-bird registration to save money. As a graduate student, every coin counts right?
Conferences can certainly take us as scholars and aspiring professionals to great places. Go for it!