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Meeting at meetings, sort of a career tip September 28, 2009

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.
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I am back from Charleston. It was a good conference and I will post separately a description. But this will be one obvious observation that younger scientists ought to learn to avoid to some degree.

Scientists, being mostly natural introverts, tend to be clannish. At conferences they cluster together – the oldtimers interacting, often without trying to include anyone else in conversations. Grad students stick together and in groups most comfortable, those in a research group travelling together stick together. Those from a particular country stick together. These are natural behaviors, but let people miss one of the great opportunities, that of meeting others and learning.

Poster sessions, although not designed to be social mixers, are an ideal venue to talk, exchange contact info and business cards, et cetera. Coffee breaks are too. At the polycyclics meeting lunches were provided. Few people used these as times to mingle by sitting down with people they did not know or only knew in passing. (I was sometimes guilty of these, too. As Manute Bol said, my bad.

Especially at these small, focused meetings, breaking the ice ought to be easy. You are all in the same profession of science and working on areas that connect in some ways. Socially, almost everyone travelled a ways to get there and is staying in a hotel. The common topics to talk about are numerous. Use them.

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