Tips for Convention Attendees
You are very fortunate to be attending a professional conference. Here are some ways to make the most out of the experience:
1. Attend the conference sessions
This may seem very obvious, but many students go through a great deal of sacrifice to attend a conference only to find that once they are there, the lure of the city (sightseeing, shopping, visiting with friends) outweighs the desire to attend conference sessions, especially on beautiful spring days. However, you are actually there to benefit from the conference itself, and I would urge you to get to as many sessions as possible. You will learn a great deal from them. In addition, poster sessions in particular offer an excellent chance to meet new people, including students and faculty from other schools. Try to get there one day early or leave one day later if you want to have time to see the sights. During the conference, avoid pulling an all-nighter so that you can be up bright and early for the morning sessions.
2. Dress and act in a professional manner
Think of a conference as a type of job interview. Wear the clothes you would normally wear in a business setting (for women—dress or pants suit; for men—long pants and tie). Do not wear flip-flops, sneakers, or the type of high fashion shoes you might wear to go out. Bring along extra copies of your resume or CV in case you run into any potential graduate school faculty or employers. When you are in the conference hotel, behave in a mature manner, as you never know who you will run into while wandering the corridors or riding the elevators. Display your name tag prominently so people can see who you are and the school you attend.
3. Register early, if possible
There can be long lines at the registration desk and if its possible to avoid them, you will have more time to attend the actual conference sessions.
4. Arrive early for sessions you plan to attend and do not leave early
Nothing is more frustrating than to arrive late or just at the time a session starts and then find there are no available seats. If you arrive even five minutes early, you are probably not guaranteed a good seat, but at least one that will allow you to be comfortable for the entire session. In general, you should not leave a session early, but if you know that you have to do so, sit close to the door so you can exit in an unobtrusive manner.
5. Try to meet new people
Even though you might find it intimidating, you should try to talk to other people at the conference, especially faculty whose work you have read and find very interesting. You would be surprised that even the most well-known psychologists enjoy meeting students who are interested in their work!
POSTER DO'S AND DON'TS
1. Prepare your poster well in advance
If you leave your poster to the last minute, you will not be able to benefit from your advisor’s help and suggestions. Complete your poster well in advance of when you need to send it to the printer so that your advisor can help you make it as good as possible.
2. Make it easy to read
Remember that your poster will be read by viewers from 2-3 feet away, so make the font large enough so that it is easily read without having to stand right in front of it. Less is often more when it comes to the amount of content you should plan to include in your poster presentation. It should be visually attractive and engaging. However, don’t overdo “cutesy” additions such as clip art or colored fonts. Ask your advisor for a sample poster that he or she liked from a previous student and use this as a model.
3. Plan to be there to present your own poster
Don’t rely on someone else to be there to present your poster for you. If you have submitted your poster and it was accepted, you should be there (barring any truly unforeseen emergency). People who are interested in your work will be in attendance and will want to discuss specific details about your study.
Bring handouts to distribute to people who take an interest in your poster. Email cards should be available so people don’t need to write down your email when you run out of copies. Be sure to have someone take your picture in front of the poster so you can show it off proudly to family, friends, and your advisor when you return home!
This "Suggestions for Psi Chi Conference Participants" article was prepared by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, University of Massachusetts Amherst (Psi Chi Eastern Region Vice-President, 2006-07) and mailed in the Psi Chi Eastern Region's Spring 2007 mailing.