T: Amazing Husband ST: Three-year-old Wonder Prof. G: Advisor I Prof. C: Advisor II Julie: Stylish Sister Rob: Awesome Brother Belle: Our Cat Bill: Grumbling BIL Rita: Uncomplicated SIL SMU: Smallish Midwestern University Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2005
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. Pack 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.