As a student, how do I get the most out of the APA conference?

<!--StartFragment -->If you are a student planning travel to next week&#39;s national APA conference, you may be thinking about how to get the most out of the experience. Here are some ideas that have worked for others...

April 6, 2007, 3:19 PM PDT

By Bruce Stiftel @BruceStiftel


If you are a student planning travel to next week's national APA conference, you may be thinking about how to get the most out of the experience. Here are some ideas that have worked for others...

Maximize your chances of good things by thinking ahead.  Go to the conference with three or four conversation opening questions pre-planned.  Make and take business cards (Yes, "MCP Student" is a legitimate job title).  Don't spend all your time in a huddle with students from your own university: that's not the way to meet new people (You can debrief with your friends later).

You can't become part of a community unless you step forward and try.  New entrants into a professional group often feel that the group isn't interested in them. This isn't true.  More likely, the person who walks away from you after you've just introduced yourself has something else on his/her mind: a presentation coming up, a must-make connection with a colleague, a phone call back to the office.  There are lots of others who very much want to meet you, to help themselves expand their contacts, to learn what young planners are learning/thinking, because you are someone different than the people they see every year, because they themselves don't know anyone and feel excluded.  Extend a hand, introduce yourself, ask a question.  Even the overtures that don't lead to anything now may open doors later.

Objective Function: "Leave memorable images; take useful data (projects and contact info)."  Look like the person you want to be remembered as.  Say things you want to be remembered for.  Bring home names and addresses, copies of good reports and remarks, ideas for things you want to do and behaviors you want to emulate.

Have fun.  If you're in a good frame of mind, you will be more relaxed and function better.


Bruce Stiftel

Bruce Stiftel, FAICP, is professor emeritus of city and regional planning at Georgia Institute of Technology. His research concerns collaborative governance of environmental policy and international movement of planning ideas.

Brooklyn Redevelopment

Study: Market-Rate Development Filters Into Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing

New research sheds new light on one of the most hotly debated questions in planning and development.

September 15, 2021 - Full Stack Economics

Los Angeles, California

The End of Single-Family Zoning in California

Despite a few high-profile failures, the California State Legislature has approved a steady drumbeat of pro-development reforms that loosen zoning restrictions. The state raised the stakes on its zoning reforms this week.

September 19, 2021 - Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

Rendering of St. John redevelopment site

Austin 'Right to Return' Policy Implemented for the First Time

A North Austin development will be the first approved under the city's new Right to Stay and Right to Return policies, aimed at preventing displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods.

September 16, 2021 - Next City

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Case Study Posted on HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.