On the morning of Wednesday, May 22nd, I got up at 3:30 AM to go on one of my most exciting career-related adventures yet! The Association for Psychological Science Convention. This was the first big psychology conference that I had the opportunity to participate in.
A short summary of my experience? I had a blast!
A slightly more detailed one? I learned so much, and I’m excited for what lies ahead of me as I advance in this field.
Not only did I get a head start for learning programming over the summer, but I also got to learn about important skills I’m going to need like Pre-Registration, I got to attend a lecture by one of my idols, Dr. Carol Dweck, whose research on Growth Mindset has been transformative in both my field and beyond.
I also got to attend a variety of symposia on topics like the importance of the Arts to Psychology, I got to learn about how kids learn, and more. Through the many poster sessions I attended, I was able to connect with many scientists who are learning about the same things I’m interested in, such as infants’ and young children’s prosocial development, their understanding of what it means to be trustworthy, playful learning in low and mixed-income communities, and more. I even got to meet another student who will be starting the same Master’s program I’m doing next year!
Of course, one of the most important components of this conference was getting the chance to present my work to a large and diverse scientific audience. Though I’d gained some confidence in presenting my work at my University’s Undergraduate Research Symposium just the following week, I was still a little nervous going into my poster presentation session: what would happen if someone did not agree with the way that I was presenting my ideas and my work? I did not want to seem incompetent, but I also did not want to seem overly-confident and ignore constructive criticism.
There was one scientist who presented back to me a different interpretation of the results that I’d gotten. Initially, hearing this alternative made me a feel a little embarrassed, that this was not a possible explanation that I had thought of, or that I could think of how to respond to. However, I quickly realized that this moment was the very purpose of doing these poster sessions: it’s not just about presenting your work, but also about receiving feedback on your work, and using this feedback to continue improving and growing.
Other highlights of my conference experience included getting to meet many other young psychological scientists who have similar and/or very different interests from me! I was lucky in that I found two great and very supportive roommates, who I spent most of my time with while I was there. Though we all had different interests (besides our collective love for The Office), we all attended and learned from each other’s poster presentations and were able to support one another throughout the conference!
I also got to catch up with a friend that I worked with last summer, while she interned at my lab! It was wonderful getting to see her present her work as well.
The one thing that I wish I’d done while I was at APS was actually go sight-seeing. This was something I wasn’t able to do because I got sick while I was there, and because- in between everything I was doing at the conference- there just wasn’t any time! Luckily, because I’m moving to the Philly area next year, I’ll be able to go sight-seeing some other time.
In sum, attending the APS convention was the best first-big-conference experience that I could have asked for, and now I feel energized and ready to take on more research at the graduate level.