Go to a Conference – It will change your life!

Kimberley Duff, Ph.D.
National President, Psi Beta

Say yes if you have the opportunity to attend or present at a conference, you will not regret it! Attending a psychology conference can be life-changing: you’ll do something new, meet psychologists you’ve read about in textbooks, network with other students and psychologists, and learn a lot about cutting edge psychology!

Attending a conference

Attending a conference is a professional event, and you should treat it as such. Be sure to dress in business casual attire and review the schedule before you attend to determine what events to attend. Say yes to everything!

Conferences usually are devoted to different types of presentations:

Poster Session – Here, a multitude of presenters showcase their research work in posters they’ve created and placed on bulletin boards. Each presenter’s poster complies with APA publication style. Think of a poster session as a social event, where you get to walk around and talk to all different sorts of people. You can ask presenters to summarize their work for you, read their posters, or sign up to get a copy of their article.

Symposium – Two or more authors lecture on the same topic and then open up for questions. After each speaker finishes, they follow up with a discussion or questions and answers.

Paper Sessions – About four authors will present on a particular topic, followed by Q & A.

Invited Lectures – A psychologist talks about the research conducted in a vital area of psychology. They title this an “Invited Lecture” because the conference planners invited the speaker. Anyone can be in the audience; you don’t need an invitation.

Exhibit Hall – Professional organizations and APA will hold exhibit booths to share their resources and products. You can check out the latest psychology books and even get some psychology swag!

Social Hours and Receptions – Check out the different receptions to see what group they serve. Often there are reception hours just for students that serve as a way to network over complimentary snacks.

Filmfest –  This is an opportunity to view short or full-length films related to psychology.

Presenting at a conference

Presenting at a conference as a student, with your advisor or through Psi Beta, is an incredible opportunity. Be sure to seek out your advisor’s help with getting started. Most conferences have a website with a section devoted to student attendees. Once you’ve applied to present a poster, be sure that you meet all of the presenting guidelines. A conference is a professional event and an opportunity to showcase your talents. Be sure to mention conference attendance and participation in your curriculum vita.

Typically, undergraduates will present during a poster session. Some conferences even have a dedicated poster session for undergraduate psychology students, so ask your professors and check out the psibeta.org website for information on Poster Design and Guidelines for poster, What does a poster session at a conference look like, and Sections of a poster.

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