Preparing for Academic Conferences


Academic conferences are a great way to network with professionals in your field and to present your research. At the stage in your program when you’re ready to go on the job market, academic conferences take on a new meaning. This is a time when you will begin setting up interviews and making your first impression with potential colleagues. More than ever, you will need to present yourself as a professional and colleague. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your trip.

Supporting Materials

Talk to your adviser about appropriate supporting materials to bring with you to your interviews. Prepare your supporting materials well in advance and be sure to bring extra copies. The UNL Writing Center can review your materials and help you make sure they’re polished and ready for the big day.


Talk to faculty members in your department about the kinds of questions you are likely to hear and how to give a brief talk about your research. Set up a time with other students in your department to practice mock interviews. Be sure to invite faculty and all students, even the ones not on the job market yet, as they will help fill in your audience and provide valuable feedback.


Scheduling interviews back-to-back may seem like a good, time-efficient idea. However you may run the risk of being late for interviews if your interviews are scheduled too close together.


Before you leave, research the universities you’ll be interviewing with. Know about faculty interests and what kinds of courses are offered.

Take Five

Between attending sessions, presenting your research and participating in interviews, you may start to feel overwhelmed. Make plans to meet up with other students during a break in the sessions or at lunch for a chance to relax.

Adapted from The GSAS Bulletin, Preparing for Academic Conferences, Harvard, December 2002.