[Note, this entry has been crossposted from a University of Leicester Student Blog.]
v. to conference
Strictly speaking, that term applies currently to the act of ‘web-conferencing’ and not to academic conferences attended in person.  I am slightly abusing the English language here; bear with me.
Next week, the School of Museum Studies here at Leicester is hosting Museum Utopias, a conference organised by the – more senior – PhD students, not that us newbies aren’t helping out.  Until recently, I had never even attended an academic conference as a delegate.  One day soon, I will have to attend one as a presenter.  From someone who loathes public speaking the way most people loath the dentist, I am trying to put that obligation off as long as possible.  However, with my recent experience [read: lack thereof] of academic run conferences, I find myself quite enjoying watching what goes on behind the scenes to plan and implement one.  Of course, because it will soon become apparent to you that I do things like this, I volunteered to ‘help out’.
Never, ever, volunteer to ‘help out’ with anything.  ‘Anything’ will turn in twenty or so something-or-others.  But that’s a post for another time.
It is nothing onerous, and there is nothing you can do to help out your department that will look bad as an addition to your CV.  It is also an exciting learning experience, though one must walk a fine line between those that have spent weeks out of their life doing all of the groundwork and those, like me, who have come in at the last moment to help out with little things of much less importance.  Still, everyone plays their part, and without everyone, the conference will not go well.  I must say, from everything that I’ve seen, I think this one will go quite well indeed!  I hope, next year, when it no doubt falls to me to be much more heavily involved in the organisation from the get-go, that we do as well.  I also hope to attend a Cambridge run PhD conference in June, and will no doubt be unable to refrain from making comparisons [theirs is only one day, ours is two].  It is all valuable information for the future.  Sooner or later, for those of us who spend enough years in academia (as students or professionals or both) conferences become a very important aspect. 


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