So you are headed to the Joint Annual Meeting (JAM) in Phoenix, Arizona, July 15- 19. Not only are you going to learn, present papers and have fun, but you are also there to network with people — lots and lots of professional people. But don’t be thrown off by meeting world-renowned speakers and innovators. At a conference as big as JAM, it is important that you get your name out there and interact not only on the professional level but also on the collegiate level. This is a great opportunity to learn about grad schools, vet schools, PhD programs and life after graduation.
Before you even go to JAM, check out the E-Career Tool which allows both employers and potential employees to communicate before JAM even starts! Students are able to upload their resumes, cover letters and the time you are presenting so an employer can come and see your work. In addition, you can look at positions that are posted by employees. Remember to put your contact information so employers can get in touch with you while at JAM. Also check out the program schedule and abstracts for further information.
Check out the exhibit floor plan before the conference so you know what groups will be there. Don’t be afraid to talk to companies that you might not know a whole lot about. You may be surprised by what different companies have to offer.
If you have them, carry business cards with your contact information so you can give it out to professionals or other students. On July 17, there will be a Career Roundtable where students will have the opportunity to talk with industry professionals about different careers. Also visit with industry reps in the exhibit hall for more information about internships and job opportunities. Bring multiple copies of your resume with you to hand out to various professionals. See the program of events for more information about where and when these and more career opportunities are taking place.
Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to a speaker after his/her talk. Tell them what interested you the most and what opportunities there are for you to work with the topic. If you can, try and get their contact information so after the conference, you can be in contact.
Talk to other students at events like the Undergraduate Pizza Party, Graduate Student Division Career Insights Lunch, Graduate Student Mixer and lots of other exciting student events. These events are a great opportunity to learn about other students’ experiences and if they have any advice on schools, career paths and finding a job.
Speak to professors after their talks, during down times, at different dinners and tell them what you are interested in. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their grad school programs and your interest in studying with them. Ask them for contact information and if it would be ok to contact them about different topics. Professors want to talk to you and hear what you are interested in.
Introduce yourself to people sitting around you when you first get to the conference room. Chances are they are probably interested in similar things based on them attending that session. This will give you a chance to talk to others in an informal setting and gather more contact and information.
Last but certainly not least, always be on your best behavior and act professional while at JAM. You never know who may be watching you throughout the conference to see if you would be a good fit for their school or company. Make sure that you bring different styles of professional dress for the different events. Also after the conference, make sure to follow up with people thank them for taking the time to talk with you or to further develop interest in a topic.
Don’t be afraid to network at JAM because it’s a great opportunity to meet lots of people from all over the world, who have a lot of knowledge to offer. You never know where a conversation might take you.