For the next few weeks, we will be posting reflections from doctoral student task force members and their experiences at the 2018 SSWR Conference in DC.
Sara Terrana, MSW, MA
Doctoral Student - Dept. of Social Welfare
UCLA - Luskin School of Public Affairs
1. Your experience in DC: Anything fun you did or people you met.
I spent the majority of my time at the conference hotel, which at times felt like I was living on a cruise ship being that everything was self-contained! It seemed like every time I turned around I would see an old friend or someone I recognized from past conferences. That is always a highlight for me while at a conference as big as SSWR. One thing I always feel at big conferences like this is to schedule in time to get outside for some fresh air and sunlight. While I didn't do as much of that as I would have liked, I was able to pick up dinner one night from Busboys & Poets, and even though it was only take-out, I always love being in the atmosphere of that restaurant. Another night, I met up with some of my cohort from UCLA at Farmer's & Distillers. This was a fun night to catch up with each other and to support one another too.
2. Most unique, intriguing, thought-provoking presentation you attended.
Hmm, so many good sessions happened! I particularly enjoyed the "Invited Journal Editors' Workshop" as well as Wendy Haight's Aaron Rosen Lecture: "Understanding Stigmatization and Resistance through Ethnography: Implications for Practice and Research." I would like to say though that the best thing I did at the conference this year was taking part in the mentor match program offered by the Mentoring Committee of the Task Force. This hour spent with my "mentor" gave me a new perspective on being in academia, and she even connected me to two of her colleagues, both of whom I have spoken on the phone with and plan to meet up in person in the near future!
3. Your main takeaways and what you will take back with you to you work.
1) Before the conference starts, peruse the online program to get a sense of which sessions and what events you want to attend. Also, reach out to people who you have an interest in their work. Then make a skeleton schedule so that you can fit in a couple of sessions along with a lot of networking.
2) Be prepared - always have business cards on you and have your presentations done so that at the conference you can just attend others without worrying about your own.
3) Get involved - I found that by doing things such as the 'meet the scientist' luncheon, the mentor match, the doctoral student luncheon, as well as attending some of the receptions was a wonderful way to network.