Conferences as Professional Exploration Opportunities

| March 27, 2018

Attending conferences as a graduate student can be a great supplementary educational and professional experience. Conferences can be a invaluable opportunity to explore career paths and familiarize oneself with current industry-specific trends. Most conferences offer student rates that are significantly discounted, as well as travel awards and scholarships to help offset the cost of attendance. Additionally, presenting at a conference bolsters one’s curriculum vitae and could lead to publication. Many offer an array of engagement opportunities such as presenting a poster or moderating a lightning round of brief, small panel discussions.

A recent Inside Higher Ed blog post published helpful tips for program attendance. The article strongly suggests taking time to set goals about what you want to learn in advance so that you can maximize your learning and networking opportunities. Without proper preparation, conferences can be overwhelming and difficult to manage, especially ones that draw a large number of participants such as the the American Library Association Annual Conference which has more than 20,000 attendees.

Mariana-Cecilia Vazquez, a Columbia graduate student, has created an extensive and useful guide for students who want to present at a conference. She walks the reader from submitting a proposal through thank you correspondence following the event. As a library science graduate student who is presenting a paper for the first time in July, I found her article invaluable. I will be sharing all my adventures on the blog, so please stay tuned!