In the rush of fall semester final exams and preparation for the spring semester, it is difficult to think about the regional psychology meetings that take place each spring. These meetings are just around the corner, however, and if you want to get the most from your conference experience, January is a good time to start planning for them. The dates for regional conferences are reported in each issue of Eye on Psi Chi
and on the Psi Chi website. Articles in Eye on Psi Chi
have noted the benefits of presenting research at national and regional psychology conferences (Grover, 2006; Landrum, 2002; LaRoche, 2004; Powell, 2000), but the benefits of attending conferences extend beyond the opportunity to present research. Whether you are a seasoned attendee or a first-time attendee, whether you are presenting your research or attending to get information from others, there are many things you can do before, during, and after the conference that will maximize the benefits of this type of professional activity and make it more informative and enjoyable. Borynski (2006) provided helpful advice for students planning to attend the 2006 APS convention. I would like to build on her list and offer suggestions to help you maximize your experience at the spring regional meetings.Before the Meetings
At the Meetings
- Check registration procedures for the conference. If possible preregister for the conference—preregistration typically shortens the time you need to spend at the conference registration desk.
- Check the conference location and hotel. Make hotel reservations early so you get your choice of hotels. It is easier to get to sessions if you stay in the conference hotel or in one close by.
- Plan your travel early so there won't be any problems getting to the conference city on time. If your group plans to use a van from your school, reserve the van as far in advance as possible. The less stress involved in getting to the conference, the more pleasant your conference experience will be.
- Review the program early. Some conferences send a hard copy of the program to preregistered participants; most conferences put the program online. The Psi Chi programs are posted on the Psi Chi website. Plan your day so that you know which sessions you want to attend and where they are located. Many sessions are scheduled at the same time so be prepared to select from many excellent presentations.
- If you are giving a paper or poster, check the schedule and material you received carefully so you know where and when to show up for your presentation. Plan to be at your session about 15 minutes before it starts.
After the Meetings
- Be prepared to take notes at the sessions so you can record information, references, questions, or ideas for future research. As Borynski suggested, keep the notes brief.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions at the sessions. Presenters value your interest in their presentations.
- Network with students and psychologists. If you find a presentation or poster especially intriguing, introduce yourself to the presenter, explain your interest in the topic, and ask follow-up questions or share your ideas with the presenter. If the presenter is from a graduate school you hope to attend, introduce yourself to the presenter, share your interest in the presenter's research, and let the person know you are interested in attending the graduate program at his or her school. As Borynksi suggested for APS meetings, check the program for student-oriented social events. If Psi Chi (or some other group) hosts a hospitality suite at the conference, take time to visit the suite and talk with the Psi Chi staff member, regional vice-president, other Psi Chi leaders and members, and other conference participants.
- Regional conferences are professional meetings and to make a professional impression, dress appropriately. Business or business casual would be most appropriate.
- Observe appropriate meeting etiquette. If you are a presenter, you should stay for the entire session. If you have friends in the audience, encourage them to stay for all the presentations--everyone enjoys presenting to a full room. If you enter a session late, enter quietly and stay at the back of the room. Avoid leaving a session in the middle of a presentation. If you must leave, leave quietly in between presentations.
- Review your session notes and file them by topic. You might want to refer to them for future research or a class paper.
- If you would like more information about a particular presentation, write the presenter and ask for a copy of the presentation. Most presenters are willing to send copies of their notes or multimedia presentations.
- Tell other Psi Chi members about your conference experience and encourage them to attend next year.
I hope these suggestions are helpful. I look forward to seeing you at the Psi Chi programs at the 2007 regional conferences.References
Borynski, M. L. (2006). Seven habits of highly effective convention attendees. Observer, 19
(5), 41. Retrieved October 20, 2006, from http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/getArticle.cfm?id=1991
Grover, S. F. (2006, Fall). Undergraduate research: Getting involved and getting into graduate school (A student's perspective). Eye on Psi Chi, 11
Landrum, R. E. (2002, Winter). Maximizing undergraduate opportunities: The value of research and other experiences. Eye on Psi Chi, 6
LaRoche, K. (2004, Winter). Advantages of undergraduate research: A student's perspective. Eye on Psi Chi, 8
(2), 20-21, 69.
Powell, J. L. (2000, Winter). Creative outlets for student research or what do I do now that my student is completed? Eye on Psi Chi, 4