One question I get asked a lot is if students should present at conference. In fact it is often more of a statement of intent rather than a question about whether it is useful. The answer, however, is not as clear as many students believe.
One question I get asked a lot is should students present at conference. In fact it is often more of a statement of intent rather than a question about whether it is useful. The answer, however, is not as clear as many students believe.
The basic issue is that there are many, many conferences these days, with low thresholds to entry or idiosyncratic selection based on the preferences of the organizer rather than quality. Presenting at a conference is not a big plus on your resume and for some people, who do a great deal of it without producing other work, it can raise questions about priorities. That is not to say it is a bad thing to do but it is not the unmitigated positive that some might assume.
Of course, there are good reasons students make such presentations.
- You can get practice in presenting in public.
- It can create a deadline.
- In some settings one can get useful feedback.
- Depending on who else is there, and how well it goes, it can provide contacts for jobs.
- It can publicize the academic program where the work was done.
- Going to a conference can give you a sense of professional norms.
These days there is such an information overload that there is a real question about whether one needs an additional information forum, however.
Of course students also ask about attending a conference and that raises a number of related questions:
- Is it an expensive conference with deep discounts for students—like the APA national conference? In this case going as a student has benefits.
- Will you learn new things or will it just cover things you can find out elsewhere? In the context of business conferences American Express suggests one metric is would “you have too much to share for a 20-minute presentation” to colleagues?
- Will you actually make contacts for jobs or at least get to know the job market better?
- Can you get ideas for improving your work?
- Can you network with other students in a way that is productive and really would not be possible via other means?
In the current period with so many channels of communication my sense is that the idea of the conference needs to be rethought. Asking serious questions about how useful such venues are is a good first step for students.
Norman, Oklahoma Eliminates Parking Mandates
The city made a subtle, one-word change that frees up developers to build parking based on actual need and eliminates costly unnecessary parking.
Boston Transit Riders Report Safety Concerns
Almost three-quarters of current and former riders report feeling unsafe while using MBTA services.
Boston to Begin Zoning Code Update, Mayor Announces
It’s been nearly 60 years, but the city of Boston is finally ready to do a comprehensive rewrite of its zoning code.
California Air Regulators to Crack Down on Warehouses
Truck traffic to and from Southern California warehouses accounts for as much pollution as refineries, power plants, and other industrial polluters combined.
FEMA Climate Resilience Loans Target Small Communities
A new loan program reduces the bureaucratic hurdles to implementing small-scale climate adaptation projects.
D.C. Delays Bus Lane Enforcement
The program using cameras to ticket drivers who block bus lanes was scheduled to begin this week.
City of Stonecrest
City of Grand Junction Police Department
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Mpact: Mobility, Community, Possibility
National Capital Planning Commission
City of Culver City
Salt Lake City Corporation
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.