If you have spent any time with me in the past two months, you have probably heard me talk about “The Conference.” “The Conference” is PR Advanced: It Starts Now, a regional conference for communication students that I was not originally involved in planning, but took on at the end of last semester. It has been looming over me the past few months especially, and I have been working my butt off to make it successful because I whole heartedly believe that conferences are so important for students, both undergrad and grad.
Here is why I think it is important to attend industry focused conferences while you are still in school:
1. Adding to Your Education
Most industry conferences include speaker sessions where an “expert” or “influencer” will talk about what they have done to be successful in their career. This is super beneficial for students because you can use speakers’ tips to help you.
2. Networking Networking Networking
Not only are you meeting new people at conferences, both peers and professionals, and broadening your personal and professional network, but you are also improving your networking skills. “Networking” sometimes feels undefinable, but all it is is forming relationships with people and leaving a good impression. That does not always come naturally or happen with every interaction, so conferences are the perfect environment for you to try out different approaches to networking.
3. Jobs and Internships
Conferences usually include some kind of exhibition or career fair. If you attend a conference specifically aimed at students, like the one I am planning for this Saturday (EEP!), there will usually be a career fair with company actively recruiting interns and entry level employees. If you go to a conference that is more aimed at professionals already in the industry, there is usually still an exhibition where you can make connections and tell people you are student looking for opportunities to learn more about working in the field.
4. Free Swag
This is not super important, but a fun part of conferences is getting free stuff! Most conferences will give little keepsakes to attendees that are both useful and a way for you to remember your experience. For example, we are giving out pens, folders, candy, granola bars and more fun stuff at our conference.
5. Making Yourself a More Desirable Job Candidate
Most of us are at school to eventually get a job, and we are constantly looking for ways to set ourselves apart from other candidates. Attending a conference gives you a whole set of skills you wouldn’t have otherwise, and it is something you can talk about during interviews to show that you have those skills and are invested in your career enough to take those extra steps to become a better professional.