An auditorium filled with people.

July 6, 2023, by Aisia Lea

Attending Conferences and Networking

I’ve had the privilege of attending numerous conferences over the past year to present the work that I have done as a part of my dissertation. Before this, I didn’t know much about what a conference was, what it meant to attend one, or even how to dress! So hopefully this blog post will give you a bit of an insight into conferences and how to make the most out of them.

Firstly, you don’t need to have completed research to attend a conference – conference attendance is open to anyone with an interest in the conference topic! Regardless of your course, it’s very likely that you’ll be able to find a conference that aligns with what you’re doing at university – just give it a google! You can also ask your lecturers if there’s any relevant conferences that you can attend.

Conferences are academic events that will feature a variety of things throughout the day (and many conferences actually span over multiple days!). Usual activities you can expect include oral presentations, workshops (which are typically interactive and involve group work), poster presentations, and networking events such as dinners which are a bit less formal and a chance to relax. It’s a great way to meet some really interesting people as well as listen to some fantastic talks!

It can definitely be a bit daunting attending a conference on your own for the first time – but don’t worry! Everyone is there to get to know people and have a chat, so don’t be intimidated. Regarding the dress code, many people attend a conference in smart casual clothes – you don’t need to be in super formal wear!

Whilst conferences do have many benefits, unfortunately a lot of the time they do come with a cost, whether that be transport there, or the price of attendance. If you are presenting work, it’s definitely worth checking with your school to see if there is any funding available for you. The university does now offer some funding towards things such as conference attendance, which you can find here. Many conferences do offer discounted ticket prices for students, and some may even fund part of your attendance – always look out for things like this!

In order to present your work at a conference, they will usually ask you to submit an abstract of around 250 words which will detail the research that you undertook and briefly outline your results. Following this, you can be offered a poster presentation or an oral presentation which you will have to prepare for. If you think your research fits the scope of the conference – apply! There’s nothing to lose by giving it a go.

In addition, there are many benefits of conference attendance. Firstly, you get to network and build connections with likeminded individuals to assist in your career progression. You can ask them to add you on your socials or LinkedIn. This is the best way to get access to a wide range of opportunities! Secondly, attending a conference can build your confidence as well as giving you something to add to your CV. Being able to be comfortable meeting new people and have a chat is an important skill. Finally, you can also visit somewhere new! If you have time, have a visit of the city where the conference is being held.

Overall, attending conferences is a great experience and I would encourage every student to take the opportunity to attend at least one if you’re able to!

Posted in #WeAreUoNAisia