I just got through the harrowing first day of school for two very nervous boys. Ian's bus never showed up, so I'm a good 1-1/2 hours behind schedule for my day. I'm getting ready for the American Political Science Association conference in Toronto. I'm flying out tomorrow, so this will be my last post for the week. I thought I would offer some advice for other attendees, especially the newbies.
APSA can be a very alienating experience, especially for women. Women are outnumbered ten to one at this conference. It's hard to be the skirt among the sea of rumpled khaki pants and blue oxford shirts. But everyone feels lost at some point at this conference. It's very big and not that nurturing. So, here are some pointers:
1) Dress conservatively. No bra straps showing or short skirts. Wear something that makes you feel confident and powerful. Don't try out the new shoes this weekend, because there's always lots of walking between rooms.
2) Seek out other women and strike up a conversation. Seek out me and I'll gladly have coffee with you, if I have the chance. Just leave a message on the APSA message system or stop me in the hallway. I have big, red hair.
3) Go to the organized section meetings. This is a good way to meet the journal editors and section leaders.
4) Plan out your schedule ahead of time. It really sucks to be aimlessly wandering around. Plan carefully which panels you plan on attending and where you'll go for dinner.
5) Spend time in the book room. Get the business cards of editors. Pitch ideas and scope out the books of your competitors.
6) Go to one roundtable that it is outside of your research area. It might inspire you.
7) Don't gape at the badges of "important" people.
8) If someone gives a paper that you really loved, go up to them afterwards and tell them. They'll be so flattered, and you'll have made a new friend.
9) Ask questions of the people on the panels, but don't use the question to pimp your dissertation. You'll just piss off everyone.
10) There will be assholes there. There will be people who look over your shoulder for a more important person to talk to and insecure people who only feel good about themselves when they trash your methodology publicly. Shun the shmucks.
11) Get away from the conference, if you can. If you're really anxious, then go check out the local museum or read a novel in a local cafe.
Good luck to all! I'll be back on Sunday.