• conferencing

    Posted on March 26th, 2012 kr No comments

    Today was a beautiful day! But, a high in the lower 60s is chilly compared to the 80s I just left behind in New Orleans, Louisiana.  I left for New Orleans last Wednesday to attend and present a paper at the Southern Sociological Society of the South’s 75th annual conference.  Oh, conferences…a time for networking, sharing our research, and hearing about our peers most exciting new projects! And, of course, to visit a new city and consume copious amounts of alcohol…

    This was my second regional conference as a graduate student and I must say, even “conferencing” requires the development of a certain set of skills and personal responsibility.  Firstly, it can be a bit intimidating to meet or talk with professionals in your field who are moderately well-know.  During my first conference of graduate school I hardly spoke with any “adults” i.e. established faculty from institutions other than my own.  I met many different graduate students studying topics that were interesting, but in the end, didn’t keep up contact.  This year, I reframed the experience.  Somewhere along the line a VT faculty member mentioned that researchers always like it when you find their work interesting.  They go to conferences to share it with others, so you might as well engage with them! I was able to meet a top upcoming scholar in the area of work and family and while I will probably not keep in contact, I feel that having made contact was a great first step in my integration into the professional world outside VT. 

     Secondly, graduate students are adults, we manage our own time (of course facutly also have a heavy influence on the time usage of  us GTAs…) and we are ultimately responsible for ourselves.  It’s important to make the most of our conferences, but it definitely doesn’t help that they hold them in such alluring destinations!  While I may have skipped out on quite a bit last year, this year I was sure to make the most of my trip and attend the sessions that seemed most interesting and relevent to my studies. And, I must say, I am glad I did. Besides, there was always the night 😉

    While I feel like confereces are an important part of socialization into a professional field, I can’t help but feel a little burdened by them.  As graduate students we are expected to go out into the world and present our research and network and hear about others’ work. But, time for grad students is already tight; add in 2 days of travel and 3 days of conference and it spells overwhelming disaster.  I suppose I have yet to learn the balancing act of “conferenceing.” At least I’m getting more comfortable with the networking part.