1. What are academic conferences?
First and foremost, think of academic conferences as large social events with formal and informal programming. They are how researchers connect and stay up to date with the latest research in their fields, as well as catch up with their peers across institutions. Conferences can vary in length, some are only a day long and others can last up to a week. Typically they occur once a year and are affiliated with discipline-specific associations. Academic conferences can also have local, regional, national, or international audiences. It all depends on what you are looking for! Each conference has different rules for submitting work, the review process, and how they like you to present your work. Find your conference, find your people.
2. Why attend/and or present as a student?
Getting your name out there and building your CV/resume as a student is key whether you plan on pursuing a career in academia or not. At conferences you can do both! Depending on the conference, you can submit your work as an undergraduate or graduate student. Conferences are amazing networking opportunities.
3. What about the cost?
National and international conferences can be expensive. Many conferences offer discounts for students. In some cases, if you are a member of the association hosting the conference you may get a discounted rate (they usually have discounted student memberships too!). Local and regional conferences tend to be cheaper. Conferences run by your University or School are usually free and open to students, like our Hunter Student Research Conference. Take advantage of local opportunities first. When planning to attend a conference not in your area, you need to think about both the registration fee and a budget for travel. Talk with your department/lab/advisor to see if there are stipends or scholarships to cover your fees. As a student, you want to pay for as little as possible. Conference organizers recognize this and will often have scholarships specifically for students to attend. It never hurts to ask!