I am super excited because the annual ASHA Convention will take place in my hometown of Chicago this year! I wanted to share some tips I have picked up at conventions as well as some Chicago info.
1) What To Wear
‘What do I wear?’, the question I ask myself every day as I get ready for work. While you are not going to be at work you still what to keep in mind that you will be surrounded by your professional peers and mentors. I am not saying you need to come in a ball gown or suit, but something that you feel reflects professionalism. You will see people in dress pants and blouses, as well as, nice jeans, boots, and sweaters. Wear something that you would feel comfortable meeting someone you admire in. As for shoes, keep in mind that even though the convention is in one place you will do A LOT of walking! McCormick Place is HUGE! Choosing footwear that is appropriate, but comfortable, is important. Also, it will be November in Chicago where 50 is a high, if you’re lucky, so bring a jacket.
*If you are looking for new job opportunities this is the place! There are vendors and companies looking for new people. If you are looking to make connections and network, making a good impression is key. Dress for success 🙂 Also, having a business card to give can help a lot, here is a post I did about making your own.
2) A Plan of Attack
Deciding what sessions to go to and booths to visit is probably the hardest and best part of the convention. There are so many choices! Plan out ahead of time what you want to go to and write it down. ASHA actually has a Program Planner on their page that will allow you to organize yourself ahead of time. Make sure you plan some back up sessions. Sometimes sessions fill up and you may need an alternative.
3) Taking Notes
As far as handouts, try downloading them onto your iPad or laptop instead of printing them if you can. It will save you added weight in your bag. I know some programs allow you to take notes on the handouts you download or you can simply take notes in Word and combine it with your handouts later. If you are someone that likes the feel of paper in your hand to take notes, log on to the ASHA Convention page and print them out ahead of time so you are prepared, but keep in mind some speakers make changes to their presentations and slides. So if you print them out ahead of time you may be missing information. Most hotels will have an room where you can use their computers and print information, but be careful about printing, some places will charge a fee if you have a lot.
4) Don’t Be A Pack Mule
It seems to be the trap we fall into. We bring a notebook, iPad, purse, laptop, etc., and end up walking on an angle from all the extra weight we are carrying around. Do you best to consolidate your items, what do you really need to have with you? One thing you will need to have at all times, YOUR BADGE. No badge, no convention.
5) Fuel Up
Taking in all that knowledge is a lot of work. There is a food court at McCormick Place and lots of dining options close to the convention center but pack some snacks. Depending on what sessions you want to see you may not have time to get something to eat. Snack bars and bananas are great choices, healthy and quiet. You don’t want to be that person rustling the chip bag during a presentation. Don’t forget to hydrate! Grab a bottle or two of water to put in your bag.
6) Have Fun!
The convention is a time to learn more about the field that we love so much. Stop by the promotion booths and see what new things your favorite companies have come out with, take the chance to connect with colleagues and old grad school friends. Chicago is a fun exciting city, take advantage of it!
-After your sessions are done grab some delicious Chicago deep dish pizza. I am partial to Giordanos, but Lou Malnatis is also popular. Which will you prefer?
– The Magnificent Mile ( aka Michigan Avenue ) has lot of dining options if pizza isn’t your thing.
– A fun, relaxed atmosphere can be found at ‘Howl at the Moon’, a dueling piano bar.
I hope this helps you prepare to have a great time and the convention. I know I’m excited and hopefully I can meet some of you too 🙂