Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SVP Annual Meeting Bits

As you may have noticed, my savings meter has been creeping up towards 50% lately, thanks to the IRS and my paranoid overpayment of federal taxes during the year. I'm now almost halfway to my goal, which is, admittedly, higher than it should be because when I was originally planning the trip, I included J (and it looks bleak as to his attendance). He still may come for the weekend bit of the conference, though. We'll see...registration isn't until June, so there isn’t any HUGE rush to figure it out.

Anywho. I went to the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel website today and reserved myself a room. I also checked out airline prices. I've run into a few decisions that I could really use help making.

1) Should I drive or fly? My car is on the fritz. It really is. Yesterday it was 56 degrees here and the sudden change in temperature caused my car to have a massive coronary (in the way cars do). It's fine now, but I don't know how it'd do in a 20-hour total road trip. As much as my car sucks right now, it feels more environmentally responsible to drive...and it's slightly cheaper. The flights I want to take will be booked soon, and I'd like to get the tickets as soon as possible, if I'm going to fly.

2) When should I leave and when should I return? I know the conference is from the 15th to the 18th, but I'm assuming that there's registration on the 14th and that the real meat of the conference starts early on the 15th. So, should I arrive on the 14th or 15th? And then, it seems the conference ends in the late afternoon on the 18th. Should I book the hotel room until the 19th? Checkout is at noon, so I could get away with checking out on the 18th if I leave that night. Do people usually stay until Sunday? Do people hang around together on Saturday night? I surely don't want to miss anything!

Someone who has attended an annual meeting before (or not): what would you do? Is there anything going on on the 14th besides registration? Should I put up another 150 bucks for Saturday night?



Will Baird said...

Fly. Arrive a day early. Leave a day after.

I've been to a few conferences, quarterly metings with vendors, etc.for my job. The days that we tried to check out on the last day of the meeting or conference, it always turned out to be a disaster.

Shell out for the extra breathing space. use that last day to hob with the people in your chosen profession. It makes a big difference.

Oh and driving 20 hours on a cranky car is, uh, nuts.

Jerry D. Harris said...

1) Should I drive or fly?

Unless it's within about 2-3 hours drive of your home (and unless someone built a super-high speed highway direct from Vermont to Cleveland while I wasn't paying attention, you aren't!), fly. A few people do make 2-3 day slogs to and from these meetings, but in general, these things tend to suck so much energy out of you (even if you're not presenting!) that a long drive afterward is generally met with genuine loathing from the drivers and pity from everyone else. It's more expensive to fly (well, maybe not with gas prices and tolls and hotels and restaurants all factored in), but trust me, you'll be more than glad you did! Especially with your car...

When should I leave and when should I return?

As Will said, most people come in the day before (Tuesday) and leave the day after (Sunday). Exceptions would be if (a) you're going to attend any of the pre- or post-meeting field trips, or (b) if you want to see stuff in the collections of the host institution and/or other area sites (for Cleveland, like the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame). Much revelry goes on the night before the meeting starts, and for schmoozing purposes, that's a good opportunity, so I recommend getting there before late afternoon if flights are available that way (often they're not). I also highly recommend getting a later flight the day after to leave -- the last (Saturday) evening of the meeting begins with the annual banquet and is followed by the Bacchanalia -- er, After Party, which, if you can do it, will leave you exhausted and make an early flight a real drag (you'll either have to deal with packing and getting to the airport while exhausted or you'll have to leave the party early to crash, and most people hate doing either one!). You can request a late check-out at the hotel if necessary (or they might be willing to stash your bag if you have to check out earlier). But the After Party is yet another schmoozing opportunity, as well as a great chance to cement newfound friendships, so it's worth doing if you can.

Actually, most people will tell you that all the real stuff at SVP meetings happens outside the actual symposia. Not to belittle the talks or posters -- they are great ways of learning gobs of new stuff and getting sneak-peeks at the latest research -- but it's the contact- and friend-making and the network-building that goes on during the (mostly evening) social events that will, in the long run, be most important to you, especially as a student that will ultimately be looking for grad schools and/or projects. That's where you'll build your networks -- meet potential advisors, talk to grad students about the programs they're in (get the inside scoops, as it were), and ultimately be able to make a well-informed decision about where you want to go and who you'll want as advisors, as well as pinpoint potential avenues of research that will be of interest to you and find out who's doing that kind of thing. Post-grad school, even the pros still take these opportunities to meet new people and potentially get new projects going with colleagues, as well as see all the people one generally sees only once a year!

Zach Miller said...

Dang, I've gotta get on this, Amanda. What month is it going to be? September or October?

Jerry D. Harris said...

Zach (and anyone else interested) - all the info is here.

Amanda said...

Will - Thanks! I bought my tickets after reading your comment. I'm arriving a day early and leaving a day after it ends. I want lots of time to schmooze with people in the field and I know I'm going to be tired and cranky from traveling.

Jerry - Since I don't know much about the field itself, I'm going to use this trip as a chance to network. So I DID get the plane tickets and I'm arriving in Cleveland at 3pm on the 14th and leaving at 11am on the 19th. That way, I can go to the after-hours party and sleep in (8 am is sleeping in for me).

Zach - Damn straight you have to get on this! The hotel is 138$ per night and I managed to book a flight for 350$. I'm looking forward to seeing you there so we can be noobs together.

Julia said...

Definitely fly. Unless you have a car anyway, there's very little need for one. I'd say 95-99% of attendees won't have a car, and will therefore be walking pretty much everywhere. So you'll just be paying parking. Unless you really want to drive across upstate New York. If the eco-thing worries you, there's always the Greyhound *shudder*.

And yes, arrive on the 14th, leave on the 19th. The evening of the 14th is one of my favourite times. Last time I just hung out in the hotel lobby for almost the whole evening, just chatting to whoever came past. The after-banquet party, as Jerry says, is well worth staying up for. The name badge swap is a great tradition!

One thing - you can almost always find a room-mate to share the cost with you. I've always taken my very own room-mate with me, and personally I hate sharing with more than one other person (four in a room makes getting ready for that very popular 8am talk difficult). But if you would like to make the money go further, it might be worth putting up a note on the SVP Facebook group page.

Zach Miller said...

Hmmm...room-mate would be a good idea, Julia. I hadn't thought of that. If I can drag Scott along, that'd be nice...

Brian said...

I'm looking forward to this one, too, although I should probably get working on making reservations and plans for getting to the conference. If I'm lucky I'll have some actual taphonomic research to talk about, but I won't count my ratites before they decompose...

I am probably going to drive (I hate flying), but then again that'll depend on whether I have a working car. I will make it there one way or another though, and I hope I get to meet all of you there (we still need to have our bloggers breakfast!).