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Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Conference Call
I am getting ready to leave for my discipline's National Conference, and I am truly dreading it. I have never liked conferences very much -- mostly, I just hate the idea of going. When I get there, I usually end up meeting some great people and having a good time, but preparations for going to the conference always make me feel like throwing in the towel and not going at all. I am such a creature of habit, and going to a conference for a few days just messes everything up for me.

I wonder if all academic conferences are pretty much the same. We have a million different conferences in my discipline, and three of those are what I'd consider to be major conferences. I've attended and presented at all three at various times in my career as a graduate student; this will be my second time presenting at our National Conference (the biggest and most annoying, since there are too many people and too many panels), I've presented at the International Conference twice (the best conference, in my opinion, because you get actual feedback on research -- very well-organized conference and always in neat cities), and four or five times at the Midwestern Conference (which is getting to be almost as unmanageable as the National Conference). Participants present papers in panels with four or five other papers, there's a chair to run the session, and a discussant to critique the papers as a group. Alternatively, participants can present research designs or beginning phases of research in poster sessions, where posters are grouped thematically and conference attendees can look at the various projects and talk one-on-one to the researcher.

These different types of presentations can be very useful or completely futile. At the International Conference, for example, I received a LOT of great feedback on the paper I presented. The discussant was amazing, the audience was engaged, and there was ample time allotted for questions at the end. At my last Midwestern Conference presentation, the experience was awful: there were six papers to be delivered in less than two hours, the discussant didn't show up, the chair hadn't read the papers and did not keep track of the time, and so after all the papers were presented there was no chance for the audience to ask questions. It was basically like presenting a paper to a brick wall.

At this upcoming conference, I am participating in the poster session, as I'm presenting an underdeveloped offshoot of my dissertation topic. I HATE poster presentations, and if I had any sense at all I would have declined to present. I've given only one other poster presentation, and it was not at all a useful experience. The only reason I agreed to do it this year is that I wasn't sure if I'd have interviews, and I needed a "reason" to attend the National Conference. Now, I'm stuck with having to do the pointless poster presentation AND four interviews, and both things are happening Friday afternoon! My poster session technically runs from 4:00-6:00pm, and my interviews start at 2:00pm and end at 5:30pm. Hmmm.

Anyway, I'm not excited about the poster, but I am excited about the interviews. These are preliminary interviews, a place to make good first impressions so that when you make your "official" application for a faculty position later, someone might say, "Oh, hey, I remember this girl from the National Conference, and she was really cool." My first official job packet won't go out until mid-September (to the university with a very early deadline of 9/20), and then hopefully I'll secure some phone interviews or even on-campus interviews. Hopefully!

Does my conference experience and interview process sound familiar? I would enjoy hearing about other conference/interview experiences.

Before I leave on Thursday, there is much to be done. A list:

Finish poster presentation materials
Grocery shopping for T and ST
Prepare one meal in advance for T and ST
Wash ST's clothes
Run (Tuesday and Wednesday evening)
Buy new garment bag because ours is falling apart
Buy that cool shirt I saw at Kohl's to wear for sightseeing on Saturday*! Didn't buy it. Not as cute as I remembered.
Finalize CV and make copies
Redraft teaching and research statements and email to HWC
Send card for dear friend's birthday on 9/2
Finalize Berlin apartment details (I got the apartment! 350 Euros! Hurray!)

Better get busy.

* The real upside to attending this conference is that I get to stay with J, one of my dearest friends who recently started his first tenure-track job. Haven't seen him since May! We're having a fun day together on Saturday and I am really looking forward to it. Fortunately, all of my interviews were scheduled for Friday.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 8/30/2005 12:10:00 PM  
3 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 2:00 PM, Blogger Demetri said…

    two things:
    1. You had to do the grocery shopping?!?

    2. I caught the bit about the shirt at Kohls and this sprange to mind: If you live near an REI (or go to it online or if there is one in the conference city), they are having their monster clearance event. Amazing deals on clothing and shoes. Not so good for presenting and interviewing perhaps, but really good for sightseeing. My best deal this year was a goretex outer snowboarding shell for $25, should be $350 or so - the worst thing about it is it's a model from 2 years ago.... It's amazing if you get lucky and quite a budget saver.

  • At 2:16 PM, Blogger Prof. Me said…

    You had to do the grocery shopping?!?

    Demetri, you crack me up. Yes, I do the grocery shopping all the time, because I'm the cook in this house, and I like to do it. If my husband went grocery shopping, we'd have nothing but Hamburger Helper and Rice-A-Roni in the pantry! And since I refuse to feed ST boxed convenience foods, that means I do the shopping and usually prepare meals in advance when I'll be gone. I hate to admit this, but I have some June Cleaver-esque tendencies.

    T doesn't expect that I do all the cooking and shopping. He's always very grateful that I do it, and that, at least six days out of the week, we have a full meal (main course, side, vegetable, dessert) together at home. He has a crazy work schedule, whereas mine is flexible; this means I can do a thorough, careful grocery shop when I have ST at home on Wednesdays, and that I have time to prepare a good meal for the three of us most days of the week.

    Oooh, and I love REI! We don't have one here, unfortunately. And the shirt at Kohl's wasn't as cool as I remembered it, so I skipped it. I am a HORRIBLE clothes shopper -- I never buy anything I don't completely love, and so my wardrobe is embarrassingly limited.

    Always enjoy your comments -- thanks!

  • At 5:28 PM, Blogger BrightStar said…

    I kind of like posters because you actually get to dialogue with people.

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