Going to Convention is an important graduate school experience. There are lots of benefits, and not just for the reasons your professors tell you!
1- Exposure to a wide variety of content
Yes, this is one of the reasons faculty say that Convention is important, but it’s true; Convention gives you the chance to hear perspectives of other psychologists who you don’t see every day. You might even have the chance to hear one of your psychology idols present. If you see a presentation you like, take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the presenter. More than likely they will be happy to talk about their line of research and point you in the direction of additional material you will find interesting.
The APA Convention boasts the largest concentration of Psychologists in North America (probably). What better place to hunt for future employment? Whether you have your dream job in mind or you need to work out what your dream job is, Convention is the place to do it. The phrase “network to get work” always sounded cliché to me… until I landed a job because of conference networking!
3- Get Experience Convention-ing
Do you feel like a tiny fish in a huge ocean when you go to conferences? Are you intimidated by the sheer size of the Convention Program book? It sounds like you have Convention Anxiety Disorder (DSM VII, pending), a common condition for many Convention attendees. You’ll spend the rest of your career attending one kind of conference or another, so what do you do? Why not come to Convention, one of the only conferences that has programming for students, by students specifically designed to ease you into Convention? Check out the APAGS Making the Most of Convention session (for tips and tricks about navigating Convention), or the Flying Solo Social (for students attending Convention alone to connect with each other). You’ll be a seasoned Convention-er in no time.
4- Excuse for a vacation
For busy graduate students, the excuse to travel to another city can be a mini-vacation (without the guilt of being away from your computer; Convention attendance counts as professional development after all). Convention is always in a big city with lots of interesting local sites to go visit, especially this year. There will be plenty to see in DC and many of the sites are free. Take some time before, after, or even during Convention to explore a little. If you register for Convention you will receive the APAGS Survival Guide which will outline many recommended sites and their pricing.
5- The APAGS social
And now the real reason to come to Convention! The APAGS Convention Committee and staff always work incredibly hard to throw an awesome social for graduate students- and, not to brag, but we nail it. Hanging with old friends, meeting new ones, letting loose and having a good time is always the best part of my Convention. This year is sure to be legendary- located at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on August 7th. Be sure you don’t miss it!