Ever stared at a conference description with your mouse over the registration link, wondering if you really need to go?
It can be nerve-wracking to attend a conference, especially if it’s your first time. Add to that three years of COVID isolation, and you may well find yourself wondering if you should just skip it.
That’s understandable! But conferences can provide amazing experiences and give you vital pathways and tools for your chosen career. We host our own conference here at the NSLS, and as one of our members says, “If somebody is planning on attending the NSLS Summit, I definitely say, ‘Do not hesitate.’”
We hope you take her advice and join us for this year’s Summit! To help you decide whether to attend this or any other conference, we’ve gathered together just some of the many benefits for students who decide to go to these types of events.
Let’s start with the most obvious benefit, as well as the reason most often cited by mentors who encourage conference attendance.
The purpose of conferences isn’t just to hear other people give presentations. Conferences are about building and strengthening a sense of community. These events give you an opportunity to build relationships with people who share your interests. That empowers you to build a wider network of people from whom you can learn and with whom you can keep in contact while building your career.
For students, networking is particularly important. You’ll have a valuable opportunity to learn about the field you plan to enter and to ask more experienced people in the field about their experiences and advice.
Sharing and Testing Ideas
Whether you’re presenting at a conference or simply attending, being present at a large gathering of like-minded people provides an opportunity to share your ideas and future plans with others.
Perhaps you’ve got a great idea for a company or a product, an action plan to create the career of your dreams, or a strategy for improving your current position. Attending the right conference provides you with the opportunity to bring your ideas to life through the advice and encouragement of those who have more experience.
Expanding Your Knowledge and Skills
Conferences are also about learning and improving the field by sharing knowledge and nurturing connections. Not only do you gain the opportunity to speak directly to others about their areas of expertise, but you can also learn quite a bit from the presentations and workshops.
For example, past NSLS Summit presentations have included topics like “Building Lifelong Leadership Habits,” “The Social Change Model of Leadership,” “Lead and Negotiate in the Age of Global Collaboration,” and “Data Literacy for Leaders.” Like most conference hosts and sponsors, the NSLS works hard to ensure an engaging program of diverse speakers and events. Attending these networking events at an early point in your career will help you learn winning strategies that will help you achieve your goals.
Learning the Latest Trends
Conference speakers often present cutting-edge work, exposing others to the latest trends and technologies in the field. By learning about these trends, you can stay ahead of the curve, determine your next steps, and find inspiration for your own work.
Boosting Your Resume or CV
When it’s time to apply for jobs, listing conferences on your resume or CV will show potential employers two important things: 1) That you’re dedicated to your chosen profession and 2) that you’re aware of what’s going on in the field, giving you a step up in the job search.
Improving Your Communication Skills
Soft skills help you to build relationships and communicate more effectively about projects, which is why hiring managers find them so valuable when searching for the right candidate.
Despite what some believe, soft skills can be learned, and conferences are an ideal place to practice! Whether you’re presenting or discussing your own work informally with someone, the experience will help you learn things like what details to share, how to be clearer, and how to be more comfortable in front of an audience of one or 100.
Conferences provide opportunities to travel to new places, see new sights, and explore local culture and food. Why not enjoy these new experiences, even if you’re working a bit?
Conferences also frequently host social events, whether through the official program or through personal invitations after the day’s sessions. Networking doesn’t just have to be for work. You might even make lasting friendships and have some fun along the way!
Ready to get all the benefits of a conference in a virtual setting? Join us on Saturday, November 11 for our NSLS Leadership Launchpad Summit!