Attending a scientific conference alone and overseas
June 6, 2014 8:04 PM Subscribe
I could really use some tips on networking and well, not panicking. Difficulty: I'm pretty strongly introverted and have some social anxiety as well, although I can fake it for a few hours if I have enough energy. I'm a senior PhD student who is expected to be better at this than I am.
posted by anonymous to Education (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm aiming to graduate within the year, so this will be my big opportunity for networking towards post-doc opportunities and I really need to make it count. I'll be at the conference alone as far as I know, although it seems to be a big conference so I could run into a few colleagues there. Nobody I can count on as a conference buddy, though.
I've never attended a conference by myself, I've never been to Europe before, and I've also never attended a large conference, so I'm a bit worried that it'll be really overwhelming. Any tips for getting over this and making myself talk to people at the conference? Should I be emailing PIs beforehand to set up meetings of some kind, or just try to look up a few people and try to seek them out at the conference? Other?
Secondary, more frivolous question: Again, I've never been to Europe before and I've been told that they dress more formally than we do in North America. Is this also true in science, where we're notoriously casual dressers? I'm a bit worried about sticking out like a sore thumb in my regular business-casual-but-heavy-on-the-casual clothes. My typical conference outfit is something like non-denim pants or a flowy skirt with a fairly plain top, basic cardigan, and flats or sandals, which fits in fine at the North American conferences I've been to. Will this still be OK in Europe or do I need to go more dressy? Is everyone going to be in suits or something? And considering that I'll be feeling out post-doc opportunities, will it make a better impression if I wear something more suit-like for at least some days? Clearly, I have no idea what I'm doing. Halp?
General comments are very welcome, but if anyone here happens to be attending the large cancer conference in Germany this summer or has attended previous meetings, you'll have my undying gratitude if you have any specific insights or let me pick your brain. Anon since I'd rather avoid having career stuff easily linked to my account, but I'm happy to memail anyone if you'd rather discuss privately, or here's a throwaway: email@example.com. Thanks!!