Today’s post comes from Rebecca Christensen. Rebecca is a PhD student of epidemiology in the department of Public Health Sciences at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. She is also the current Vice-Chair of the Obesity Canada – Student and New Professionals (OC-SNP) National Executive.
One piece of advice that I have consistently received from mentors over the years is the importance of networking. They stressed that networking is valuable not only for post-graduate opportunities, but also because research is a collaborative discipline and therefore it is integral to find opportunities to create partnerships. Early on in my career, I found this task quite daunting. Admittedly, I still find this act quite intimidating to this day. I understand that the act of approaching strangers in academic events, such as conferences, is advantageous. Nonetheless, it can be difficult to find a way to break the ice. Fortunately, there can be specific events at conferences that can help with this situation.
Social events that occur in the evening, and sometimes in the morning (e.g. yoga or other group exercise activities, delegate breakfasts) can be a much more low-pressure way of meeting individuals at a conference. Thankfully, organizers for conferences will often include ice breakers, or employ other tactics (such as random seating) to encourage everyone to meet and chat with new people. At the Canadian Obesity Student Meeting (COSM) taking place June 17th to 20th, 2020 at York University’s Keele Campus in Toronto Ontario, there will be another opportunity specifically designed to help you meet someone new called Conference Connections.
Conference Connections provides the opportunity for you to be matched with someone who is also attending COSM 2020. In order to enrol in this program, you must complete a short form (available in English and French) about who you are, and who you are looking to meet at the conference. You will then be introduced to your new conference connection via email approximately 1 month before COSM. This way you will have the ability to find some time to meet-up while at the conference. We will be trying to match people on not only research, but also personal interests. Therefore, you will already have a few things in common to help break the ice. For people who are planning on attending COSM alone, this can be especially advantageous as this will give you an opportunity to know at least one person before you get there!
I hope that you take advantage of this wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to seeing you at COSM 2020.