Blog Post

Four Good Reasons to Attend Conferences

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What do you do when you’re a student and you get departmental money?  You go to conferences!  In fact, one my favorite things about being a student and scholar is traveling to new places, meeting new people, and learning neat stuff about how to make my teaching and learning experiences even more productive.

This past month I was fortunate enough to present at two conferences: the Networked Researcher Blogging Unconference and the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education (also known as the POD) conference. At the unconference I posted a blog titled “Open Access: Inspiring a More Democratic Future” in which I argue that academia needs more open access (OA) advocates like Dave Parry to spread the message about the importance of scholars making their research publicly available. Not only did I get to blog about my favorite OA activist, but I also got to meet him in person during my Teaching with Technology graduate class at Washington State University.  These combined experiences helped me create relevant connections between my conference participation and academic studies.

While participating in the blogging unconference was a nice way to celebrate OA with like-minded individuals, I also enjoyed my time at the POD conference in Seattle, WA. At this conference, I facilitated an interactive workshop titled “Integrating Technological Writing Tools into an Undergraduate Writing Curriculum.”  I was lucky to have a small, but dynamic workshop group and enjoyed sharing both my own perspectives on how to effectively use technological writing tools and hearing others’ thoughts on how to do so as well.

While I hope that sharing my recent conference experiences is enough to motivate you to attend a conference on your own (if you haven’t done so already), let me share four other good reasons you should invest time and energy into conferences:

1.) Conferences provide excellent opportunities to learn more about your field of study in a diverse, professional environment.

2.) You get the chance to meet new people and sometimes to even rub shoulders with the scholars and professionals who inspire you.

3.) Conferences give you the chance to shine as a student/scholar, especially if you’re presenting. You can also list conferences you’ve participated in on your curriculum vitae.

4.) Conferences are great way to refuel yourself. Just when you’re feeling worn out from taking classes, writing papers, or teaching a heavy course load, conferences can give you the boost you need to get reenergized and motivated.

Finally, don’t forget that if you’re interested in attending or presenting at a conference that the HASTAC “The Storm of Progress: New Horizons, New Narratives, New Codes” conference is just around the corner!

Works Cited

Image by zigazou76




I am pleased reading this post while sitting at a conference room. I absolutely agree with you that going to conferences is one of the greatest perks of being a graduate student. I enjoy attending both big conferences with thousands of participants, where everyone you meet seems doing different things, as well as those small, focused conferences, where you know almost everyone. Conferences give you the opportunity to reflect on your own research by learning the current status of the filed and being inspired by other people’s perspectives. Through networking on and out of the conference site, you could meet great people and sometimes form long lasting friendships. Then each year the conference becomes your annual meet-up with your friends and that is one more good reason to attend conferences!


Hi Vera,

It's pretty neat that you read this post while at a conference. ;) 

I see from your homepage that you're pursuing a doctoral degree in Computer Science.  Just out of curiosity, what do conferences in your field look like?  Are they often interactive, lecture-driven, or something else entirely?  I know every conference is different, but I'm curious to learn about the general contours of conferences in the CS profession.


Well it depends. The main track is still lecture like similar to other fields. But often the conference has a few "demo sessions" in parallel with lectures. Often they are like exhibition where you can walk in and play with the systems. Especially since I work in the field of interface design, sometimes I may see fancy stuff like "next generation" interface, which is really exciting :)