Attending Academic Conferences

Conference

 

The month of March was a whirlwind because I had to balance planning to attend two academic conferences while prepping for midterms. It is now April and I can say that I have made it out alive.

I attended the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) in Miami from March 10th to the 13th and the American Medical Student’s Association (AMSA) in Washington D.C. from March 31st to April 3rd. These organizations aim to support health professionals at varying levels of their education to become well-rounded and informed advocates for medicine.

Based on attending these conferences; along with many others, I am pretty confident in my conference skills. I have narrowed it down to three pieces of advice I wish I had known before my first conference.

Packing

Packing for these trips can be difficult, but I am here to help. Usually, these programs are business casual; which in short means wearing a nice top and dress pants/skirt. Save your jeans, sandals, and t-shirts for less formal parts of the trip. Make sure to bring a versatile blazer and pair of shoes that you can pair with almost anything. This is super helpful in cutting down the time you spend getting dressed, and to switch out with any distinctive pieces that you may spill something on. Trust me you will want one on you.

Networking

This is one of the main reasons for attending these conferences so make sure to make the most of it. From attending presentations and lectures, visiting booths, and networking mixers and lunches there are plenty of opportunities to make connections. Make sure to have a short pitch to introduce yourself, as known as the elevator pitch. Include your name, occupation/institution, and a project you may be working on. This great icebreaker and a way to showcase your work without being too boastful. Make sure to listen to others as well, and learn about the great projects out there!

Exploring the City

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have fun at these conferences. You should spend all day sitting/standing all day listening to lectures and presentations while trying to remain as professional as possible. You have traveled to another city and should optimize the benefits. During the AMSA trip, we walked through the National Mall which was an great adventure. Taking the time to explore the city gives you a nice break from the conference and a chance to interact with other students in a less formal capacity. By going out for dinner with medical students in Miami I made friendships that I could not have made by sitting with them during a lecture.

 

 

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