Another conference over, another presentation conquered. This being my first Biophysical Society Conference, it was quite an overwhelming experience, the scale of which was unexpected.
Reflecting on whether I achieved my goals when I came to the conference, or whether I find myself in a better position, smarter, faster, etc, I think the answer is unequivocally yes. As I sit in the O’Hare airport at Goose Island (highly recommended if you ever have to kill an hour or two at ORD), I can attest that I made connections, learned about the next step I want to take in my project & career, and most importantly, survived my first big conference talk without becoming physically ill.
As a sixth year graduate student, I think the strides made in determining my next step are the most important. I gained insight about how to approach professors for overseas post-docs, what the funding situations are like in various countries, and how to deal with cultural differences with respect and humility. I think this last bit is especially important for us Americans to realize while still in our own country, as we can often feel impatient with second English speakers when they may be having difficulties expressing themselves. Learning a second language is hard, and at least they are trying, and in a new country, which is a lot more than what a lot of us can say.
So with the passing of this most annual of meetings, I hope we can all reflect a little on what we learn, the goals we achieved, and how we can approach meetings in the coming year to get the most out of it, especially when it comes to moving out of our comfort zones.
Until next year!