Take the Lead Tuesday: Attending a Professional/Academic Conference: What to expect and how to prepare-a recap

Three student speakers, Andrea Kochensparger (a senior, Anthropology), Shouvik Bhattacharya (a senior, Physics), and Iwnetim Abate (a sophomore, Physics) discussed how students can motivate and prepare for attending an academic or a professional conference. All of them participated at the Student Academic Conference at MSUM this spring, and in addition, attended a professional/academic meeting of their own field in different cities and states. Their thoughts summed up as follows:


• To become more familiar with the work of those already prominent or rising within their academic/professional fields.
• To listen and grasp the new points of view.
• If you want to become effective in your chosen careers, then you need to think of beyond the classroom and gain real world experience. It expands our knowledge and makes us stand out on grad and job applications.
• To start a network of peers and others with whom you share your common interest.


Get passes and hotel rooms in advance. Check with your respective department and the Office of Student Activities, if you need any financial assistance. For example, Bhattacharya’s APS Annual March Meeting was sponsored by the Department of Physics & Astronomy (MSUM), the Dean’s Student Travel Grant from the College of Social and Natural Sciences (MSUM), the Office of Student Activities (OSA),MSUM, and the National Society of Physics Students. Before going to a conference spend sometime on the itinerary to ensure whether any speech overlaps.Remember that you will have limited time. And once you’re seated in a less interesting one, it will be too late to move on to an alternate one.

The Takeaway Message:

Apply what you have learned to future assignments and classes. Departments will be happier to fund student activities when they see positive results. A few students take the initiative to go to academic events so your attendance sets you apart from your peers from other schools. Please encourage others to participate.