Once again, it was time for my profession’s annual conference. The once a year meeting where academics come out from behind their journals and labs to be treated like rock stars with young grad students drooling at their every words. A bazaaro place where the number of papers publish is actually a good pick up line.
As a young grad student, I go to the conference to marvel at all the new research, participating in as many symposiums and sessions as I can. I fill my schedule back to back from 8am to 6pm and still thirsting for more. I introduce and hang out with highly published academics as if they were rock stars. Talking to fellow grad students about who we’ve met like teenage groupies.
Now, my schedule is much more different. Having found my specialization in the field, I go only to those topics are relevant. In my case, they were few and far between this year. Having a job is also a great privilege. The conference is a major place to network and get job interviews. Not having to worry and be on all the time makes the trip much more relaxing. It’s much more important nowadays for me to meet up with old co-workers and/or meet new people and network.
It’s too bad I didn’t know it back then. If a young person in the field really wanted to know about how the field works in the real world, the best education is at the bar, not at the symposiums. The information you learn at the bar is priceless and you will never find in a book. The books will tell you how ideally things should happen, but the bar will tell you exactly how things actually happen.
Starting from around 3 or 3:30pm, the bars begin to fill up at the conference hotel and it goes strong until the bars kick everyone out 12 hours later.
I spent most of my conference with a couple of old coworkers from previous jobs. It was great being able to spend time with them like the old days. I won’t bore you with details, but generally, it was a lot of talking and drinking.
One thing that was interesting was a one of my friend’s coworker. When he introduced me, I said ‘nice to meet you’. She responded with ‘We’ve met before’.
Apparently, about 3 years ago, when she was a grad student under one of my friends, we were introduced at a conference in Toronto. She said that there were a lot of pictures taken at that conference. They’ve often wondered who this one random person was in a lot of their pictures.
I of course, cannot remember any of it. She pulled up some pics she had uploaded on the net and sure enough, there I am hugging all these girls. One pic in particular was the girl I’m talking with now.
All I remember from Toronto really is…. Umm.. I’ll let that stay in Toronto.
One thing about that girl is that she’s fantastic. Fantastic like very few girls I’ve ever met. Fantastic like a feeling of just knowing they’re great.
Fantastic and married.
I remembered at one point in my drunken babble I said, it’s too bad you’re married. She came back with, I wasn’t married when you first met me a few years ago.
I woke up at 6am on Saturday after passing out very early Friday night. Something which I’m still very unhappy about. I got my learn on at the conference for a while that morning and early afternoon, then it was back to the ‘networking’. Tonight, I was sure to pace myself as I didn’t know how long the night would go.
Sure enough, the night never ended.
The drinking and talking went on until 6am. I went back to my hotel room to pack up and caught a taxi to the airport for my 8am flight.
Another good conference.