Get The Most Out of Your Undergrad Research Conference Experience

UMass Undergraduate Research Conference

Undergraduate research opportunities are a golden chance to connect with your tentative career industry. As a mechanical engineer undergrad, this research conference opened doors and made noise on my campus. My professors now know my passions within mechanical engineering and can readily guide or assist me. 

I definitely plan on attending more research conferences and would like to share some tips on how to enhance your research conference experience. I made these mistakes and plan on fixing them so, before it's too late, you can dodge these rookie moves. 
Semirah at the UMASS Undergraduate Honors Research Conference
Taken from Instagram @SemirahD

Semirah's tips:
  1. Do a powerpoint presentation instead of poster if you would like more direct feedback. Your audience is present and alert in one room instead of surrounded by hundreds of other poster presentations so, all eyes are on you. Also if you only want to present once and get it over with, then the powerpoint presentation is the best option.
  2. If you are presenting at a poster, take advantage of the “dead” time (You’ll understand what I mean or you already know what I mean). You will be standing at a poster for 45 minutes to represent all the hard work you’ve put into this research and the conference doesn’t guarantee you a prestigious or expert audience. To conquer this and optimize your experience, network with other student presenters. They know mentors that could further your research or you could make great contacts with someone you could be working with later down the road.
  3. There is no need for resumes, unless you are attending the networking event or private invitationals. Bring a few inexpensive business cards to hand out.
  4. Prepare an “elevator pitch” for your research.
    1. 30 second pitch for brief encounters
    2. 1 minute pitch for someone you’re interested in networking with
    3. More elaborate version if someone is super interested and asks you questions

Analyzing your audience and giving the right pitch will save so much time and help you stay productive. I made the mistake of giving everyone the elaborate version and had people snoring right in front of me! I then realized that, of course, someone’s parent just walking around and supporting the presentators wouldn’t want to hear about this manufacturing process that I wish to improve with XY and Z methods.   

There are many ways to approach scientific meetings or conferences. If there is anything I missed that you've experienced or want to share, go ahead and share in the comment section below.

Best regards, SemirahD

Follow me during my summer engineering internship via twitter and instagram

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