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What to know before a conference

What to know before a conference

A group of Museum Studies students and their program Director, Briley Rasmussen, recently attended the Southeastern Museum Conference (SEMC) in Charlotte, NC.

Given their experiences last week, these students share tips for others attending their first conference.

Liz Bouton presented her thesis project, a facial reconstruction, at SEMC.

Liz Bouton is a second year Museum Studies Master’s student who attended the conference for the first time. “The biggest piece of advice I would give to interested students, which I found beneficial to my networking at the SEMC, was bringing businesses cards that are memorable,” says Liz. “There are a multitude of inexpensive companies to print online that let you customize your cards. I suggest making your cards relatively vague so you can use them well into your future (mine has my name, MA degree from UF, personal email, and phone). As a student, I go through a lot of temporary positions and internships. By having an all encompassing business card that is visually striking, you will never worry about having irrelevant information, and people really enjoy the originality.”

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Katie Matthew and Kim Crowell networked at an evening event.

Katie Matthew is a third year student who attended the conference for the first time. “I agree with Liz that business cards are good to have,” says Katie. “Networking is important. Have a good pitch line of what you do/are studying for when you meet a new person. Be sociable and make a goal to meet at least 5 people per day. Keep in contact with alumni and meet up with them at the conference events.”

Kim helped clean a historic house at the Hands on Help session.

Kim Crowell is a third year student who has attended the SEMC for the past three years. “One suggestion that I would have for museum studies students would be to volunteer at the HHMAG Hands on Help session,” says Kim. “I have done this every year that I have attended the SEMC conference. Some of the ways that it has been beneficial are that volunteering allows you to have another opportunity to put into practice the skills that we’ve been learning in our courses; it helps smaller museums to accomplish a lot in a few hours; it’s a great informal way to meet other museum professionals and to network; and it’s just fun!”

Kathryn watched a liquid nitrogen demonstration at the Discovery Center at an evening event.

Kathryn Rohlwing is a third year student who has attended the past three Southeastern Museum Conferences. “Sign up for the evening events,” says Kathryn. “I can’t recommend them enough. At SEMC, on Monday and Tuesday night, you usually tour three museums, which is a highlight of the conference. You get to experience the city you are in and to see the different, creative ways museums approach education and exhibitions. To me, this is also where some of the most valuable networking occurs. In general, my approach to conference registration is to sign up for all the free ‘extra’ events like the evening tours, the general opening and closing sessions, and the Hands on Help.”

Lauren O’Neill is a first year student and was a first time attendee at the SEMC. “Be prepared for all types of weather,” offers Lauren as her advice. “Conference rooms can be a bit chilly, and you never know how cold it can be in a new place until you actually experience it. I would also say that it is best to dress to impress! There were so many great minds in attendance and it helps to look professional when networking with other museum folks (especially when you don’t have a card to help make yourself memorable).”

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