There are two main reasons to attend a research conference:
- To present your research! If you are planning to do anything after you graduate, you should be doing some type of research! It shows you do more than go to class, it shows you have worked with a professor in the lab, it shows your ability to design and carry out a project, and it shows your ability to convey your experiment to an audience.
- It also looks great on C.V’s and grad school applications, gives you a potential letter of recommendation and gives you something to talk about in job interviews
- Network! At ANY conference you should be handing out business cards, C.V.’s or resumes. Whether it’s a business card to another student in your discipline or a judge, or a resume to a summer research program or potential employer, you should be jumping on the opportunity to get your name out there!
I’ll call this one the bonus reason…. number 3. It is so motivational to attend a conference. We all know how easy it is to get overwhelmed half way through the semester. We have all travelled down the rabbit hole that is too many papers, quizzes, assignments and exams, and lost sight of the rest of well…life. Attending a conference lets you break up your schedule. It forces you to see your path from another angle, and it can be extremely rewarding if you are willing to seek it out.
I recently attended ABRCMS, the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students and I cannot express how refreshing it was to witness the truly inspirational stories of students at this conference. The speakers were phenomenal. The career and academic resources were thoroughly informative. I met other researchers in my field and even a few potential employers. I was also very encouraged by the responses I received from potential graduate programs when I told them my (non-traditional) academic story. I feel renewed in my pursuit of graduate school and so grateful that I was able to attend this conference and meet so many amazing people.
So, if you have the opportunity to do research (and even if you don’t…) DO IT.
If you have the opportunity to present your research, DO IT!