On Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, SLIS students gathered to learn from experienced faculty and professionals about preparing and presenting at conferences of all kinds. Presenters included SLIS faculty members Kim Schroeder and Tim Bowman and Reuther archivists Rebecca Bizonet and Gavin Strassel.
The panel discussion was organized by SLIS student chapters of Society of American Archivists (SAA), National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), and Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T).
Each speaker discussed different aspects of becoming a conference presenter whether for a poster session, a brief five-minute talk or a full presentation. Schroeder put on her career advisor hat and emphasized how important it is for students to see these presentations as a way to assist in the job search. Presenting a poster shows a commitment to the profession, demonstrates how you think and helps you get hired faster.
Bowman suggested building a story around the question you are interested in pursuing. Is it a mystery? A crime story? As you pursue answers to your question, describe your journey and the answers you uncovered. He also encouraged good design when creating a poster or PowerPoint presentation. Use white space and avoid text heavy posters and slides. Incorporate icons and graphics where you can.
Both Bowman and Schroeder emphasized that others in the profession are interested in hearing what students are learning and the innovative research they encounter. If a professor encourages you to turn your paper or idea into a presentation, take that as the confidence you need to follow through.
Strassel, president of Metro Detroit Archivists League (MEDAL), encouraged students to network with classmates as well as with local professional groups. Some local groups hold symposiums to provide feedback on one another’s presentation before submitting them to a call for proposal. He said that students often have a special status at conferences and it is an opportunity not to be missed.
Echoing that sentiment, Bizonet, president of the Michigan Archival Association (MAA), said students are encouraged to submit posters and other presentation ideas as well as articles for publication. MAA offers a student scholarship to attend their annual conference as do many other professional association conferences. Students should be on the lookout for MAA’s upcoming call for poster presentations for their June conference.