Conference Reflections: How to Survive and Thrive as a Fresh Master Student

Anyone working in a scientific field, especially biology, attends conferences. We anticipate conferences, feeling mixed excitement and dread, eagerness and fear. Conferences present a rare opportunity to take off the lab gloves, lay down the butterfly net, shut down the computers, and interact with other people just as nerdy and excited about finite details of some topic as us. During conferences, we take a step back, remember why we spend hours upon hours counting fish scales, recognize our place in society, and, in doing so, leave our comfort zone.

From the Comfort Zone to the Conference. (Annie taking dissolved oxygen samples and presenting at a student conference)

Here are some tips to survive and thrive at your next conference:

1. People listen best when spoken to ~know your audience. The best speakers grab your attention by making an appropriate comment or joke, and hold your attention by explaining what they did, without too many details or too few. Will you speak in front of a room of ecologists? mathematical biologists? What experience do they have and how can you relate it to your project. Et voilà!

2. You know best ~you are the expert in your area, don’t be afraid to speak confidently. Easier said than done, but it helps to remember that you have worked hard on your project and there is no real reason to be nervous about sharing what you have learned, even if you don't have any formal results yet.

3. Be present ~finish your slides before, attend the lectures, and ultimately enjoy the event. It’s not every day you have so many intelligent and approachable people in the same building. Who knows, you may meet someone that could be your next supervisor or co-author!

4. Don’t drink all the wine ~know your limits. Free food and drinks can make for unpleasant mornings, and uncomfortable bellies. You will have enough butterflies in your stomach without any help from the minibar.

5. Laugh at the jokes, savor the food and dance at the party ~Enjoy yourself! Like these attendies of the European Marine Biology Symposium (seen below).

Yellow Submarine Competition, EMBS 2012, Arendal Norway


Have more tips? Or stories? Write a comment below!

Tags: Conferences
Published Oct. 17, 2013 8:54 AM - Last modified Oct. 17, 2013 1:45 PM
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