Tag Archives: Convention

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 do you do, in 30 seconds or less? Preparing your ‘Elevator Speech’ for Convention

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

So, you’ve put hundreds of hours into your research – you know the theories inside and out. You can talk about the relationships between your variables. Your methods. Your findings. Your implications. But, can you do it in 30 seconds or less?

Convention necessitates we prepare our ‘elevator speech’ to engage quickly (but meaningfully) with colleagues while we are crunched for time moving from session to session or waiting for a session to start. Maybe you’re looking to solidify your introduction for a seminar or conversation hour you’re leading. This is your opportunity to communicate the importance of your work and how it benefits our field. Think of this as a way for you to provide a clear, brief message on who you are and what interests you.

Here are some quick and easy tips to help you prepare your ‘elevator speech’ and build connections at convention:
Think about the major themes of your research. What are the questions you are trying to answer? What are the topics that excite you? Why are these issues important? Given the diversity of our field, it is likely that you will interact with psychologists and students who are unfamiliar (or vaguely familiar) with your research area, so be sure to eliminate all jargon.
Talk about what motivates you. Your goals for life post degree. Why is it that you are doing this work? Are you seeking to impact clinical practice? Are you trying to influence policy? Are you looking to join the academy, clinical practice, think tank, etc.?
Write it down and practice. This might seem silly, but it is crucial. Here is your opportunity to refine what you are trying to say and become comfortable communicating it with others. You can practice with your family, friends, and classmates. Here is your opportunity to work out the bugs and practice these conversations. Check out an outline here and watch Duke University students practice their elevator speech (literally) here.
Let them know who you are. Find out who they are. Remember, this ‘speech’ is an opportunity to make a meaningful connection. Make it personal. It’s likely you may want to follow up with them in the future, and your 30-60 second interaction may blossom into a relationship or mentorship. After all, your elevator speech opens the door for further conversation.

Lastly, remember to breathe and enjoy convention.

Editor’s Note: Check out these additional posts about how to have a successful Convention experience.

Why You Should Join the APAGS Convention Committee


The 2016 APAGS Convention Committee at this year’s APA Convention in Denver.

If you have ever been to the APA convention, you know how thrilling it is: the famous psychologists, the innovative research ideas, and the free pens (just to name a few exciting things)! I was completely enamored after my first convention and wanted to contribute. Some of you may be thinking the same exact thing now, and with another convention over, it is time to start considering being a part of the APAGS programming and fervor that is convention.

Here are some reasons why you may be a good fit for the APAGS convention committee:

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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!

Learning the Ropes: Attending Convention for the First Time as a Graduate Student

APA Convention can be overwhelming with tens of thousands of psychologists and graduate students descending on a new city with the purpose of staying current with our work and networking! These tips will help you to plan for convention, survive (and thrive!) while attending, and debrief afterwards.

Before Convention:

  • Now is the time to register!
  • Find some other grad students to room with to save a few bucks!
  • Also, keep an eye out for any airfare specials if you will be flying to Denver.
  • Once the conference program is out, start to plan your days at Convention.
    • Start with APAGS program; it’s specifically geared towards the needs of graduate students
    • Use keywords to search the electronic program and find sessions that you’re interested in attending.
    • Plan to attend talks on your research interests, but also step outside of your comfort zone and go to a talk on a topic that you may not be exposed to in your own program.

During Convention:

  • Network! Find other psychologists and graduate students who are doing work that you are interested in. Bring business cards so that you can exchange them and keep in touch after the conference.
  • Attend APAGS events to specifically network with other graduate students.
    • The APAGS Social is always a hit! Don’t miss out!
    • APAGS also provides free food at the Food for Thought Breakfasts each morning. What a great reason to wake up early, right? This is also a great time to hear talks by amazing psychologists. Be sure to check the program for the line up!
  • Attend talks that align with your research or clinical interests, but also attend something that is new to you.
  • Get out and see Denver! As a graduate student, how often do you really get to travel? Take advantage of the opportunity to explore this cool city a bit.

After Convention:

  • Relax! You might need to take a day or two to recharge. Convention can be both exhilarating and exhausting.
  • Follow up via email or maybe even social media with the people that you met at convention.
  • Start thinking about Convention 2017! Do you want to present your work? Do you want to be an APAGS Ambassador or maybe even apply to be a member of the APAGS Convention Subcommittee?