Editor’s note: Here are a few simple tips from APAGS Convention Committee member, Stephanie Winklejohn Black to help students keep it professional at Convention.
1. Mind Your Drinking
Socials are often where connections are made for jobs, post docs, and research collaborations. They can be a lot of fun and really stressful. You may imbibe a bit more than you should because you just really like Pinot Noir (especially when it’s free) or because you’re nervous about Networking (Big N). Either way, becoming tipsy among your current and future colleagues can be nothing short of disastrous.
Tips to Reduce the Risk:
- Some socials give out drink tickets to each guest, which helps to limit access to free alcohol. Leave your cash at home to avoid spending – and drinking – more at a cash bar.
- Eat before you head to a social. Budgets are tight for students at conventions, so I usually pack granola bars, trail mix, and apples in my suitcase that I can snack on throughout.
- Less is more. Listen. You might be a tank when it comes to drinking at home with friends. But keep in mind convention is busy and you’ll be tired, stressed, and at a high altitude. All of these impact how you’ll tolerate alcohol
2. Mind Your (and Others’) Time
I will own that I tend to be old-fashioned (LOVE Downton Abbey), so this may not be important to everyone. But there’s something to be said for arriving to talks – especially small, panel-based discussions – on time. If you do enter a talk late, stand toward the back to avoid climbing over folks who are already seated. Be remembered for your insightful questions at a talk, instead of tripping over someone’s leg and book bag on your way to an empty seat in the middle of a row!
This one is especially hard for me – but resist the urge to use your phone during a presentation. Presenters work hard on their materials, and looking out to a sea of blue lights can be disheartening.
3. Mind Your Surroundings
Convention is huge, which is awesome! It also means that attendees will scatter throughout the city for convention week. When you are out on the town, be aware of what you’re discussing and how you’re discussing it. Professionals from your division, or an employee at that postdoc you want, could be sitting at the table next to you.
I want to end by saying that being professional at convention doesn’t mean you have to be a robot, or can’t be authentic or funny. If you enter spaces at and/or near the convention with consideration for yourself and others you’ll be good to go!