Advice for Student First-Time Attendees
Before, During, and After the Conference!
Set a goal. Are you there to learn, connect, or find a job? Let your answer guide your decisions at SIOP.
Make a priority list of three things (sessions, symposiums, panels, etc) a day that you would like to attend. If you have energy and interest, then attend more. Tips for choosing sessions:
- Look for sessions that are relevant to a current project or paper.
- If you don’t have a set research area, attend sessions that interest you as possible specialties.
- Check out SIOP’s website for the one-pager highlighting sessions of interest for graduate students.
- Consider the room location and the time you have between sessions if you choose any back-to-back sessions.
Prepare to connect. Bring business cards and update your social media to put your best foot forward. Download the Whova app and sync it to your LinkedIn profile. You can use the app to talk to people who went to the same sessions as you.
Pack accordingly. If you’re not staying onsite, consider bringing some items to help you make the most out of the conference.
- A notepad and pens so you can jot down names of presenters to look up or connect with later. Also use these to prepare questions before or during talks so you can actively participate in the conversation
- Consider a business card holder, depending on your goals for the conference. You’ll want to make sure you don’t lose cards you receive from others.
- A light sweater or other professional outerwear, sometimes conference rooms can be chilly!
- Sandals or other comfortable shoes that fit in your bag, for walking longer distances, if you’ll be wearing heels.
Plan to make the most of your time there. Are there places you’ve been wanting to visit in Chicago? Make a list of local restaurants or tourist spots you can visit and set aside at least a little time.
Check out the poster sessions: It’ll allow you to speak directly with the researcher(s) and share ideas.
Dress appropriately in professional business attire but not to the point where you’ll be uncomfortable all day. Pro tip: Always make sure to break in your shoes ahead of time!
- By the way, we’ve noticed the first day has more formal wear and clothing becomes slightly more casual throughout the conference while remaining business-style.
Decompress. Take time for yourself; the conference can take a lot of energy out of you. It’s ok to take breaks!
Don’t forget to eat! Be sure to make it to coffee breaks on time to snag snacks, or you can bring some granola bars in your bag if you’re worried about rushing between sessions. You can also bring a reusable water bottle to take advantage of the water coolers around the conference. Also check out the SIOP receptions for food (and networking).
Remain professional in your attitude and composure, whether it’s in a session, an onsite restroom, or the hotel bar. Carry yourself in a professional manner at all times—the I-O field is a small one!
Network, network, network!
- Meet up with alumni from your program or current students of a program you’re interested in. These connections could help you gain insight or even get a foot in the door.
- If you go to a session and find someone’s research or experience especially interesting, try to meet them afterwards (if they’re not busy)! Chances are, they’ll appreciate your interest.
- Sport the “first time attendee” ribbon to spark conversations.
- When you get a business card, write about the questions you have for the person, how you met, and so on to help you keep track of who is who.
- Attend social hours coordinated by SIOP or other sponsors that share the same interests as you.
Have fun! It’s your first SIOP experience, so soak it all in while you can, without putting too much pressure on yourself—you’ll likely be back!
After: Within 1 week
Revisit goals. Did you meet the goals you set for yourself prior to the conference? What else might you need to do as follow-up in order to reach all of your goals?
Revisit notes and organize them in a way that helps you reference them for later projects or professional development.
Follow-up with a brief email or LinkedIn connection to everyone with whom you exchanged cards or had a more extensive conversation. Thank them for the opportunity to chat, mention anything memorable you learned from them, and/or provide anything you promised as a follow-up.
Organize and submit travel-related receipts, if you get any reimbursements from your department.
Write a summary of the top three things you learned from SIOP 2018. Share it with your advisor, research teams, and whoever else might be interested or benefit from it. Ask them what they learned too!