Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Navigating Your First AERA

It’s true, I cried when I was handed my first AERA printed program. Everything seemed so huge and overwhelming: The number of workshops, the number of people, the size and scope of the whole affair. Now a seasoned veteran, I have a few tips for the first-timer.  

1. Keep it in perspective – Honestly, you don’t get extra credit for cramming in every presentation you can. Choose to attend those that you find most intriguing. For those you miss, access the online paper repository later.  

2. Take advantage of your student status – Is there a senior researcher you’ve been dying to meet? Respectfully introduce yourself after their presentation. Visit the Graduate Student Resource Center (and find out the free snack schedule). Attend graduate-student oriented workshops and socials (scroll through this blog or visit the Resource Center to find out more about these).  

3. Visit the vendors – Books, software, journals – it’s all in the exhibit area. Also, many of the exhibitors put their material on sale in the final hours of AERA, so be sure to ask!  

4. Don’t forget about poster sessions – These are a great place to network. Find others whose research aligns with yours and exchange business cards. Who knows, you could find a great new colleague!  

5. Have fun!! – AERA takes place in some of the most fabulous cities in North America. Nobody expects you to spend all day every day cooped up inside. Take one of the offered tours, participate in an AERA sponsored volunteer project, set aside time sight-seeing. Part of expanding your mind is expanding your horizons. See what the host city has to offer!

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