Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Introduction to the Academic World...Sorta

You know, I should probably change the name of this blog. Not the post, the entire blog. :) I haven't posted anything crafty in forever. But I am posting something. And not just a throw-it-all-in-there update post.

This past weekend, I presented at the Far West Popular Culture and American Culture Associations Conference here in Las Vegas. It's an academic conference for a different sort than the traditional ones I've heard about. For one, it's a lot more laid back. The sessions were relatively small, and more informal than I've heard about from friends. But maybe I should start from the beginning....

Back in October or so, one of my professors started telling us about this conference and how it would be a good experience for us to submit abstracts of papers we've written or would like to work on, and possibly present at the conference. So, right before the deadline in December, after much prodding and reminding from said professor, I submitted two individual paper abstracts (one on the First Amendment and Virtual Worlds and the other on Social Media in Higher Education (I'm thinking of writing my thesis on the second one since I've already done almost the first three chapters for various classes last semester)) and one panel (I did a foodporn panel with three classmates...yes, foodporn. But I looked at the Got Milk? ads and there wasn't much foodporn-ish stuff to look at.) Little did I know, as long as you submit an abstract, you get accepted to present. I didn't find this out until I came back to Vegas after Christmas break. And by then I was kind of stuck.

If you know me, I'm not too good at public speaking. Sure, I'm okay with one-on-one or maybe a few people, but put me in front of a group, I get flustered and ramble. And talk with my hands. A lot. I have no Potagee blood in me, but the hands start flying anyway. But since I had to do all three presentations because my professor wouldn't let me out of it, I resigned myself to doing them. 15 minutes each isn't bad, right? WRONG!!

I realized that I had three papers, but had no idea how to present them. Should I be "academic" and all serious and professional (which I'm not, by nature,) or could I be a little goofy and more casual? I decided in the end to do a little of both. (And cramming a 40+ page paper into a 15 minute presentation is not easy.)

After weeks of freaking out and indecisiveness about how to go about the presentations and what handouts should I give the people who come (do I give the whole paper so I can get feedback? do I just give an abstract so they know vaguely what I'm talking about? do I give a copy of the presentation? do I give nothing? what?!?!) it finally came to this past Friday. I took the day off from work so I could make sure my presentations were ready and it's a good thing I did. By Friday morning, I was still scrambling to finish the presentation for Saturday (I had one on Saturday and two on Sunday). Not the best thing. So I worked all day on two of the presentations and then went to the reception that night.

Food at the reception. Mostly appetizer stuff. But there were mini desserts. And a MASHED POTATO MARTINI BAR!!! So yummy.


So the next day I was at the conference from 7:30 in the morning, even if I didn't present until 4:30 that afternoon. It was a long day. I ended up giving the people who attended my presentation the abstract for the paper. There was no way I was going to print out 10 copies of a 12 page paper if I didn't know how many people were actually going to show up. And it's a good thing I didn't. There were only like 6 people, and most of them were from my program. But the presentation went well. I think. I was myself and talked with my hands, and got flustered, and read a little too much from the powerpoint and my notes, but I think it went okay for my first academic conference presentation. I got some pretty good feedback from not only the people who attended but also the professor who moderated the session and I knew what to work on. Unfortunately there are no pictures because I forgot to give someone my camera to take any for me. But I did take one of the screen before the session started:


Oh, and my nametag:
because you just have to, right? So you know who you are. And prove that you were there. LoL.


Sunday was an early day. I got to the conference at 8:15 even if the session didn't start until 9. I didn't expect anyone to be there because Hello? There were only two sessions that day anyway and oh yeah, it's Las Vegas. But, the first panel was the foodporn panel. The room ended up being full. And the conversation afterwards lasted almost the entire hour we had after the presentations. (Well, when you're talking about sex and food, what do you expect?)

 The sign in front of the room for both my panels. Yes, the first one was called Eat Me. 

 Our panel.

 Getting ready to present. No one told me they were taking a picture. LoL

Presenting. And people walked in late.

The final presentation I did went well too. By that time I was so glad it was almost over, I wasn't very nervous. Still, I talked with my hands, but I wasn't as flustered. And I knew the material because I had rewritten and edited the paper more than 5 times last semester. The room wasn't as full, but there was still a decent amount of people there. More than I expected.

 Presenting. Yep. 

I'm done! Time to let down my hair!!

And so ends my introduction to the academic world. I presented my first three papers at a conference as a graduate student and got pretty good feedback for all of them. One conference attendee even stopped me on my way out of the conference on Sunday (I was heading to Johnny Rocket's to get a hamburger, fries, and a milkshake to celebrate with some classmates) and told me that she enjoyed my presentation the day before and that it was well-done and I spoke well. That made me happy, that someone liked it. I don't know if I'll do the conference again next year, but we'll see. But it was a good experience and I'm actually glad I did it. (But shhhhhh....don't tell my professor. I still like to grumble about being tricked into presenting three papers.)

If you want to read about the conference, you can visit the UNLV online newspaper, the Virtual Rebel,  here. Yes, I know they got my name mixed up with someone else in the photo caption. I'm having that fixed. :) I was quoted!

See you later!!

~Jeni

1 comment:

  1. I was happy to learn about your life away from Hilo. It seems like a very interesting and challenging environment. Thank you for still reading my blog. As usual I am still hoarding too much. LOL!

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