Last month, I attended the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Indianapolis, Ind. It was a great experience, and I would like to encourage my fellow students to seek out similar conferences in their fields of study and to look into UND’s programs that provide travel assistance.
At the conference, the first thing I did was present my own research. This left the rest of the week open for me to do whatever I wanted. I spent that time going to a variety of talks, some of which were for general audiences, and some of which were much more technical.
I had a ton of options when it came to topics: There are way more areas of chemistry than I had previously realized. I also met a wide variety of fellow chemists. Undergrads, grad students, professors and people with industrial jobs were all present. I got some really good advice about deciding which grad school to attend and how to get in, and I learned about opportunities in the chemistry job market.
These sorts of professional conferences can teach you a lot. Personally, because most of the chemists I know are involved in academia, it was good to talk to chemists who had other kinds of jobs. So to my fellow students: Check online or ask your professors if there are any conferences you could attend. Large conferences can get expensive, but there are travel grants available from various sources, including UND.