Four Things I Learned at My First Academic Conference

My internship this semester required me to attend an academic conference this past weekend. Although endlessly interesting to me, it is an entirely new world and one that can be intimidating to learn how to navigate. It was an unknown thing in an equally unknown building, and I for one was scared. For all my current and future scholars who might have to explore this territory as well, here, then, are four things to remember.

  1. 1. Those Paper Lanyards Rip Really Easily 

    When I saw academic conference selfies on Instagram, I mistakenly always assumed that the passes were plastic or an otherwise sturdy material. I felt they would last the entire time at the conference. This was not the case. The lanyard tag with the conference name and my name ripped about halfway through the second day, leaving me with a cord around my neck and having to carry it the entire rest of the conference.

  2. 2. Other College's Buildings Are Less Confusing 

    Possibly it was just ~this~ other school’s building, or possibly it was because the entire conference took place within a couple of rooms. But I was worried about getting lost, confused, or tired while trying to navigate another school’s building and area. It turned out that I truly had nothing to be worried about and that moving around turned out to be completely fine. 

  3. 3. Other College Dining Halls Are Always More Exciting 

    I still live on campus, which means that I still eat at a dining hall every day. I like my dining hall and its food, but I cannot help but be continually charmed at the food at the dining hall in another place. The rare occasion that I eat at another school is honestly like a treat for me.

  4. 4. Everybody Wants to Meet the New Kid 

    It is obviously very scary going to something like an academic conference for the first time, especially as an intern and as someone who does not have much experience in her chosen field. It can feel like you are being accused of something the second you step in the door, or that everyone is out to shame you. The best thing I found was that this was absolutely not the case. People were willing to talk with me, sit with me, and even take my resume if I tried. There is much more openness and conversation than is suspected. 

Academic conferences are a whole new world, but they are one I am certainly proud to enter and to start participating in!