In the end of my second year of doctoral studies, I was accepted to present my working paper in an academic conference, for the first time. The conference to which I was accepted was the 2018 National Conference in Sales Management in San Diego, California. I was very excited to have been accepted to a conference in which most of the researchers in my field attend, but little did I know of what to expect from it. Of course, I had looked at the proceedings of previous conferences, and topics which were presented there earlier. I also knew that feedback from reviewers will be given for submitted papers. However, it was not until the first day of the conference when I realized that a young researcher can get much more than that from attending an academic conference.
To my mind, going to an academic conference and presenting a paper is a good reality check for a doctoral student. It is not only about presenting your work in progress, it is also about getting to know your research community outside the borders of your university and country, getting to know the job market, getting publishing advice, and learning about the latest teaching methods.
Getting to know your research community
After attending a conference, you can have better understanding of who could become a potential reviewer for your paper. If the conference is small enough, the chances of getting to know one’s potential reviewers, co-authors and employers are even higher. I found it very helpful that, in a small conference where there was only one track with presentations, I was able to get to know all presenters and their research areas.
Getting to know the job market
It was very mind opening for me to learn about the academic job market in the US. In a special doctoral session with career advice I learnt more about the AMA job market and what steps it takes to get ready for it. I also learnt more about expectations towards the candidates and an approximate timeline for getting things in order, before the application deadline. When talking to faculty from US academic institutions during the social events, I also discovered how candidates from European schools could make their profile stronger and eliminate possible question marks in their academic CV when applying for the positions in the US.
Getting publishing advice
Another eye-opening aspect of attending the National Conference in Sales Management was “Meeting the editors” session. It was very helpful to learn what the editors of target journals expect from a successful submission, which crucial papers they expect to be cited and what are the upcoming special issues in those journals. Moreover, in some other conferences that my fellow doctoral students attended, the best doctoral papers got invited to special issues of the target journals.
Learning about the latest teaching methods
As one of the goals of the National Conference in Sales Management was to share latest teaching methods, a lot of attendees presented how they approach teaching sales, in their classrooms. It was very inspiring to learn about ways to give students real-life job experience and ways to assess students’ activity in class.
Overall, attending my first academic conference gave me better understanding of how to approach my research, how to position it better, and what would really matter in my further job search in academia. In addition to all of these insights, it was also very nice to get to know international colleagues on a bit more personal level and to get to know the exciting destination of San Diego where the conference was held.