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speechfan222

Research Conference

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Hey everyone, 

I will be attending a week-long research conference (by myself) on a university campus next week and I need a few tips. 

  • I received a schedule of events and it looks like I will be finished around 5pm each day. Other than walking around the campus or hanging out at my hotel, does anyone have any other suggestions of 'things to do' after it's over each day? 
  • I normally wear comfortable athletic shoes while at work throughout the week and wear flip flop or sandals on the weekends. This conference has a casual dress code, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what to wear. Should I wear nice pairs of jeans, nice shirts, and my flip flops? I'm looking for other footwear options and am not really sure what else to wear. I will be in Arizona, so it's not snowing, but it will be a bit chilly. 
  • The conference will include guest speakers. I will have my laptop with me as I need to bring it for some research group work. What is the best way to take notes from speakers and other information within the conference? Should I type out notes on my laptop? 

I think these are all of the questions I have for now. Any other tips or suggestions are appreciated. 

Thanks! 

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1. Once the conference is done, you're on your own. Check out cool things to do in the city you'll be in. Are there any cool museums or attractions around? Also, see if there are any student mixers. Often times, conferences will hold mixers. See if you can network with any faculty or students from other schools. If you are still in undergrad, this is a great way to make connections with possible graduate mentors.

2. I would always err on the side of business casual for a dress code. A nice pair of jeans and nice shirt are fine, but I would not wear flip flops. If you're a female, I would wear a pair of ballet flats or maybe dressier sandals. If you are a male, then maybe something like boat shoes or something. I would advise against sneakers or flip flops. Conferences are always networking events, and you want to "dress to impress."

3. You can take notes on whatever you would like. I would just caution that it might be uncomfortable to take notes on your laptop as you will be sitting in a chair with the computer on your lap and your bag on the floor. If that works for you, awesome. Also, be mindful of how loudly you type. If your laptop makes that loud click sound with every key stroke, you may make it difficult for others (the speaker included) to concentrate. I've typically just taken quick notes in a notepad at any conference I've gone too. I don't really remember too many people with laptops out. 

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5 hours ago, Hk328 said:

1. Once the conference is done, you're on your own. Check out cool things to do in the city you'll be in. Are there any cool museums or attractions around? Also, see if there are any student mixers. Often times, conferences will hold mixers. See if you can network with any faculty or students from other schools. If you are still in undergrad, this is a great way to make connections with possible graduate mentors.

2. I would always err on the side of business casual for a dress code. A nice pair of jeans and nice shirt are fine, but I would not wear flip flops. If you're a female, I would wear a pair of ballet flats or maybe dressier sandals. If you are a male, then maybe something like boat shoes or something. I would advise against sneakers or flip flops. Conferences are always networking events, and you want to "dress to impress."

3. You can take notes on whatever you would like. I would just caution that it might be uncomfortable to take notes on your laptop as you will be sitting in a chair with the computer on your lap and your bag on the floor. If that works for you, awesome. Also, be mindful of how loudly you type. If your laptop makes that loud click sound with every key stroke, you may make it difficult for others (the speaker included) to concentrate. I've typically just taken quick notes in a notepad at any conference I've gone too. I don't really remember too many people with laptops out. 

Thanks for this information @Hk328. I am a female (forgot to mention that, whoops) and I will make sure not to wear flip flops. I have wide feet, so finding shoes is tough and I'm not sure ballet flats will work. I'm going to see what I can find. I'm going to wear nicer jeans, nice shirts, and some type of dressier shoes. 

I didn't even think about the loud clicking sounds on my laptop as I take notes. That's a good point. I'll probably bring a notebook and take some handwritten notes. 

Any other tips?

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Have fun, but maintain professional. Conferences are a fun way to network with people in your field and get a better sense of what kind of research is happening. You're going to have a shared interest with pretty much everyone there. You want to try to network and get to know people (you never know when these connections can come in handy). It's basically a chance to geek out on your particularly area of interest with someone who gets it. 

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7 minutes ago, Hk328 said:

Have fun, but maintain professional. Conferences are a fun way to network with people in your field and get a better sense of what kind of research is happening. You're going to have a shared interest with pretty much everyone there. You want to try to network and get to know people (you never know when these connections can come in handy). It's basically a chance to geek out on your particularly area of interest with someone who gets it. 

This is a good point, thanks! This conference is open to students of the university. Alot of the students, including myself, are online students, so there will probably be students travelling from different areas. It won't be people I will work with in the future or will probably ever see again, but it will be a great experience. 

Thanks again! 

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1) I wouldn't make firm plans for after the conference in case you're invited to a networking happy hour or you meet people you'd like to chat further with and you decide to grab dinner.  You're not required to use your time this way, but the option may present itself.  Otherwise have a list of things of interest in the city so you don't just go back to the hotel.

2) For footwear you can't go wrong with boots.  Not like hiking boots, but a nicer pair that doesn't have a heel (like riding boots) can be comfortable for all kinds of feet and are good for lots of walking.  They work with jeans, skinny pants, or skirts so its less to pack in a suitcase.  It is ok to wear dressy sandals if the weather is warm.  Bring a light sweater because the conference rooms will likely be cold.

3) Find out if the conference will be publishing the abstracts/powerpoints of all the presentations on their website or in a special journal issue after the conference.  If they are then you can just carry a small notebook to jot the occasional thought or question.  I just did this and it was wonderful.  I only carried my purse instead of that and lugging my laptop bag around.

Other tips.....have some business cards.  They don't need to be fancy, just something with your name, contact info, and the field you're in.  Also carry a bottle of water, a few small snacks (trail mix, cheese sticks, a protein bar, etc), hand sanitizer, and something for headaches.  

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6 hours ago, MarineBluePsy said:

1) I wouldn't make firm plans for after the conference in case you're invited to a networking happy hour or you meet people you'd like to chat further with and you decide to grab dinner.  You're not required to use your time this way, but the option may present itself.  Otherwise have a list of things of interest in the city so you don't just go back to the hotel.

2) For footwear you can't go wrong with boots.  Not like hiking boots, but a nicer pair that doesn't have a heel (like riding boots) can be comfortable for all kinds of feet and are good for lots of walking.  They work with jeans, skinny pants, or skirts so its less to pack in a suitcase.  It is ok to wear dressy sandals if the weather is warm.  Bring a light sweater because the conference rooms will likely be cold.

3) Find out if the conference will be publishing the abstracts/powerpoints of all the presentations on their website or in a special journal issue after the conference.  If they are then you can just carry a small notebook to jot the occasional thought or question.  I just did this and it was wonderful.  I only carried my purse instead of that and lugging my laptop bag around.

Other tips.....have some business cards.  They don't need to be fancy, just something with your name, contact info, and the field you're in.  Also carry a bottle of water, a few small snacks (trail mix, cheese sticks, a protein bar, etc), hand sanitizer, and something for headaches.  

Thanks @MarineBluePsy! This is very helpful. I definitely may consider some boots. I've been wanting a good pair and if I can find some that fit comfortably, I will buy them. I will check and see if the conference will be publishing the abstracts/powerpoint and other information from the conference. I sure hope so. That's a good idea....

Also, the conference details say it will provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the day. I don't have any business cards, but can think about that before I go. 

Thanks for everything! 

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37 minutes ago, speechfan222 said:

Thanks @MarineBluePsy! This is very helpful. I definitely may consider some boots. I've been wanting a good pair and if I can find some that fit comfortably, I will buy them. I will check and see if the conference will be publishing the abstracts/powerpoint and other information from the conference. I sure hope so. That's a good idea....

Also, the conference details say it will provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the day. I don't have any business cards, but can think about that before I go. 

Thanks for everything! 

Well if they're providing stuff, make sure you hit that table early and grab a few things to stuff in your purse for later.  They will run out and you will get busy networking, going to talks, etc.  Not all conferences have a designated lunch break and often there are lunch hour talks or workshops, so its great to have a snack on hand so you don't have to miss anything.

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I also found out that breakfast, snacks, and a buffet lunch will be provided each day of the conference. Those attending are responsible for their own meals for dinner. Since I'm going alone, I don't plan to go to restaurants every night for dinner. I also want to save money and not spend too much eating out. I will have a refrigerator in my hotel room. I'm debating about grabbing a few things from a grocery store and keeping them in my fridge. I won't consider anything that needs to be heated or cooked on a stove top. Can anyone recommend easy meals or snacks to eat in a hotel room? Any suggestions would be helpful. 

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2 hours ago, speechfan222 said:

I also found out that breakfast, snacks, and a buffet lunch will be provided each day of the conference. Those attending are responsible for their own meals for dinner. Since I'm going alone, I don't plan to go to restaurants every night for dinner. I also want to save money and not spend too much eating out. I will have a refrigerator in my hotel room. I'm debating about grabbing a few things from a grocery store and keeping them in my fridge. I won't consider anything that needs to be heated or cooked on a stove top. Can anyone recommend easy meals or snacks to eat in a hotel room? Any suggestions would be helpful. 

I'd suggest being open to going out to dinner because you may meet others from the conference that may be great connections and chats about how they can help you (and vice versa) could be done over dinner.  Its not required for you to do this, but if the opportunity presents itself and you'd like to then go for it.  In a situation like this its ok to make a joke about hoping there's student budget friendly options on the menu and the other party will get the clue and not suggest some place too expensive.

As far as food in your hotel room I am a big fan of oatmeal cups.  I guess these could be for dinner, but I prefer to have them for breakfast and then treat whatever the conference provides for breakfast as a midmorning snack.  I make these using the coffee pot.....just put plain water in it, no filter needed, and put the oatmeal cup where the coffee cup would go.  It's a good idea to run a cycle of plain water that you discard to get rid of any coffee bits first.  I suppose you could also make cup of noodles or similar items in this same fashion.  Otherwise I keep protein bars, cheese sticks, or cups of yogurt in the fridge in addition to bottled water and something with electrolytes (gatorade, vitamin water, etc).

Now if you really want a hot option check out the following link.  I haven't tried this, but I know this kind of thing is popular in college dorms where you often can't have hot plates, toaster ovens, etc.  You can use an ironing board in place of a cutting board.  https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/hot-iron-grilled-cheese-sandwich-514164

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4 hours ago, MarineBluePsy said:

I'd suggest being open to going out to dinner because you may meet others from the conference that may be great connections and chats about how they can help you (and vice versa) could be done over dinner.  Its not required for you to do this, but if the opportunity presents itself and you'd like to then go for it.  In a situation like this its ok to make a joke about hoping there's student budget friendly options on the menu and the other party will get the clue and not suggest some place too expensive.

As far as food in your hotel room I am a big fan of oatmeal cups.  I guess these could be for dinner, but I prefer to have them for breakfast and then treat whatever the conference provides for breakfast as a midmorning snack.  I make these using the coffee pot.....just put plain water in it, no filter needed, and put the oatmeal cup where the coffee cup would go.  It's a good idea to run a cycle of plain water that you discard to get rid of any coffee bits first.  I suppose you could also make cup of noodles or similar items in this same fashion.  Otherwise I keep protein bars, cheese sticks, or cups of yogurt in the fridge in addition to bottled water and something with electrolytes (gatorade, vitamin water, etc).

Now if you really want a hot option check out the following link.  I haven't tried this, but I know this kind of thing is popular in college dorms where you often can't have hot plates, toaster ovens, etc.  You can use an ironing board in place of a cutting board.  https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/hot-iron-grilled-cheese-sandwich-514164

Thanks for this information. While I'm not a fan of oatmeal, I will definitely consider this. That's a good idea. I was also thinking about bring plenty of water with me. Placing a few bottles in the fridge and grabbing them as I go. 

Now, the ironing board idea to make a grilled cheese sandwich is pretty genius. I never thought of this before. Thanks for the good idea! 

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13 minutes ago, speechfan222 said:

Thanks for this information. While I'm not a fan of oatmeal, I will definitely consider this. That's a good idea. I was also thinking about bring plenty of water with me. Placing a few bottles in the fridge and grabbing them as I go. 

Now, the ironing board idea to make a grilled cheese sandwich is pretty genius. I never thought of this before. Thanks for the good idea! 

I know they also make cream of wheat and cream of rice cups if you prefer that to oatmeal, so several options if you have a little time to look.

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I'm assuming it is acceptable to take notes from the various guest speakers. Is it appropriate to record the lectures/presentations as well? 

Should I take full advantage of all networking events? There is a networking event/mixer at the end of the conference on the first day. I think it would be interesting to mingle with others and talk to them about the same 'nerdy' stuff we're all interested in. I'm just somewhat worried about going to dinner with some of them on other days. I know it would be a good learning experience to talk with others, but I feel somewhat hesitant about going out to eat with people I hardly know. 

FYI: I am a female and am still deciding what to wear to the conference. It's a casual dress code, but I'm going to dress a little more 'dressy' than jeans and a nice shirt. I may wear a dark pair of jeans one day, but still need ideas for the other days. Any suggestions? 

Any other tips or suggestions for me? 

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