Author Archives: Michelle Krieger

Why You Should Attend Convention 2017 (Washington, DC)

SquareProfessional conventions are an integral part of the graduate school experience. APA Convention is one of the largest and brings together a diverse group of psychology students, academics, professionals, community organizations, and clinicians from across the US (and the world!).

If you’re on the fence about attending the APA Annual Convention, here are just a few (of the many) reasons why it’s worth the trip:

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What to Wear to Convention

AKA. What does ‘Business Casual’ actually mean anyway?

Reposted with permission from PhD Comic -3/7/2016

Reposted with permission from PhD Comics -3/7/2016

As conference season is fast approaching, here are some tips to help you answer the age-old question, “What am I supposed to wear?” This post came out of a clothing crisis I had when faced with the ambiguous directive to dress in “business casual” for an important meeting. I wanted to appear put-together but not over-dressed, and also to be comfortable (after all, there really isn’t a professional way to take your shoes off because your feet hurt!). So, I turned to the internet and a few trusted friends and here’s what we came up with.

Part of the reason why ‘business casual’ is so hard to pin down is because the standards for what is appropriate largely depend on the workplace or organization. Also, social norms around clothing change over time so advice can often be conflicting. For example, many older sources I consulted stated that skirts should be knee length or longer, while a number of newer sources advised no more than 3 inches above the knee! Opinions were also divided on if it is ever appropriate to rock the “business shorts” in a workplace.

A few basics we could all agree on – whatever you wear, make sure it is wrinkle-free, unstained and doesn’t have any holes or loose threads. Also, people advised avoiding outfits that were very loud or flashy (e.g., head-to-toe sequins, multiple bright patterns, etc.) as they might distract from what you are saying. Part of convention is networking and if your clothes are speaking louder than you are – it might not be the right outfit for the job.

Overwhelmingly, people also thought that jackets seemed too formal, unless worn with dark jeans or khakis to dress them down slightly. For those who do wish to wear a blazer with a dress shirt or dress pants, feel free to lose the tie. One exception is if you are presenting – then err on the side of more formal dress.

One piece of advice that came up repeatedly was to wear layers. Often, you’re walking or transiting to convention in the heat, only to enter a freezing convention centre minutes later. The other piece of advice was to wear comfortable shoes. Again, many of the same things apply to footwear as to clothing – avoid shoes with holes, that are visibly scuffed or dirty, or that you would wear to exercise in. A good bet is to stick with neutral colors – navy, tan, brown, or black – as they match with many outfits so you can wear them multiple times. If you plan to do a lot of walking (and you likely will), you might consider bringing more than one pair of shoes so you can alternate if your feet get sore.

There are many more extensive guides out there and much of this will be up to your discretion, so a good rule is if you’re not sure if an item is appropriate – trust your instincts, it probably isn’t. And if you’re craving more info about what to wear to convention, check out this excellent post – Dressed by Jess – from a few years ago!

APAGS Poster Session at the 2015 APA Convention in Toronto.

Research Posters 101

So you’re presenting a poster at convention – congrats! Now what? If you’re new to research posters here are some handy tips about poster design and printing to get you started:

APAGS Poster Session at the 2015 APA Convention in Toronto.

APAGS Poster Session at the 2015 APA Convention in Toronto.

Poster Design

Size & Design – The first task will be to figure out how big you want your poster to be and what program you’ll be using to design it. The acceptance letter will tell you the size of board you have to put your poster up on – I would recommend choosing a size that is slightly smaller than this. For example, if the letter states 4ft x 6ft, you might want to print 3ft x 5ft. Poster design websites (e.g., posterpresentations.com) will have downloadable templates in standard sizes that will get you started. If you want to design your poster sans template, people typically use Microsoft Powerpoint and design their poster on a single slide. The important part here is to adjust the size of the slide to the size you want to print (Design > Page Set Up > Custom – this may vary depending on your version of the program).

Keep it simple – The next step is figuring out what to put on your poster. Less is more! Think about your research question and take-home message and design your poster around this. Many people will be passing through quickly and the goal is to present your findings at a glance. I know it’s hard to cut out detail, but remember that you’ll be there to answer any questions about methods, measures and minutiae that come up!

Be creative, but keep it thematic. If you can adapt your findings or present your materials in a visual format – go for it! Just be sure to label everything clearly and include only the information that is crucial to your message. You don’t want the visual elements to distract from or undermine the message.

Poster Printing

After you design your poster, it’s time to get it printed! Many universities and colleges have in-house printing services, and most college towns will have print shops with competitive prices on research posters. There are also several websites that specialize in printing research posters. These have the added bonus that you can have your poster delivered right to your hotel at convention. While I’ve never had issues with this before, I would be wary of this method if I was presenting near the beginning of convention (to give you time to re-order if it didn’t arrive).

Another thing to consider is if you want to print a paper poster, which is traditional, or go with a fabric or digital poster. I haven’t seen many digital posters, but think this option could be beneficial if you want a cheap and interactive display. If you are interested in going digital, first check that it’s an option that will be available to you, and second, make a contingency plan in the case of technical glitches (e.g., have extra printed copies of the poster, have the contact information for A/V support on site, etc.). Fabric posters can be more expensive, but they’ve been coming down in price. These can be great if you’re traveling a long distance and want the convenience of putting your poster in your suitcase or convention bag. With this option, you may need to iron your poster to take out any creases due to the folding.

Other Considerations

Print letter-sized copies of your poster for people to take with them, or at the very least, have a place for people to leave their contact information for you to send digital copies (or have a QR code for people to scan).

Also, think about how you’ll transport your poster to convention. If you’re printing a paper poster, will you need a poster tube? If you’re flying and bringing a tube as a carry-on, consider sharing the tube (and any luggage fees) with a friend. Also, think about the logistics of carrying your poster tube plus whatever else you’re bringing to convention (e.g., briefcase, shoulder bag) to ensure its manageable.

Lastly, posters are one of the areas where academics get to show off their creative side. Have fun with it!

Airplane

Planes, Trains, and Hotels – Oh My!

Getting to APA Convention in Denver, CO & Where to Stay Once You’ve Arrived

Airplane

So you’ve decided to attend the 2016 APA Convention in Denver, Colorado – that’s great! The next steps in your journey are deciding how to get to Convention and where to stay once you arrive.

How do I get there?

  • Fly – For those traveling from farther away, flying may be your best option. Denver International Airport (DIA) is the major airport serving Denver. From here you can take a taxi or shuttle, take local transit, or rent a car to get to your accommodations. Use travel search engines, such as flighthub.com or kayak.com, to compare flight options.
  • Ride a BusGreyhound and other private bus lines travel to Denver and arrive at the Bus Terminal (1055 19th St), which is close to the RTD’s Market Street Station (local transit).
  • Take a Train – Trains will arrive at Denver’s Union Station, where you can get transit schedules, passes and maps. Amtrak has routes that travel to Denver from many locations across the US, but depending on where you’re coming from, these routes can take a significant amount of time – so plan accordingly!
  • Drive – If you opt to drive to Convention, APA members and affiliates have discounted rates with the rental car agencies Alamo, Budget, Avis and Hertz. Plus, carpooling is a great way to save money if you’re traveling in a group. If you do plan to drive, don’t forget to factor in the cost of parking for the duration of your stay.

Where should I stay?

For those of you wishing to stay where the action is – the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center Hotel and the Sheraton Denver are both convention facilities and will be hosting a variety of APA, APAGS and Division events. Keep in mind that these options may be more expensive, so you may wish to find a roommate or two to make the convenience more affordable!

There are many other accommodations within minutes of the Convention Center in downtown Denver. These can be searched using Google Maps. Some of the closest options are:

If you’re looking for lower cost alternatives, you might consider renting a condo with friends instead of staying at a hotel. Some options are AirBnB, Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO), and Vacation Rentals. Again, Google Maps is a good way to figure out if an accommodation is within walking distance (or transiting) distance to the Convention Center.

Check out our post earlier this month A Comprehensive List of Student Travel Awards to Attend APA’s 2016 Convention for more info about potential ways to offset the cost.

Lastly, remember to check the APA website closer to April 15th for more detailed information regarding travel and accommodations.