In a couple weeks time, a conference I’ve been co-planning since the spring will finally happen. It’s the British International Studies Association US Foreign Policy Working Group Conference and this year it is exclusively for postgraduate students and early career researchers. It has been a whirlwind of a trip, but me and the other organisers have really enjoyed our experience so far. It goes without saying but we’re excited for the conference to happen.
Organising an academic conference is a very underrated and under-considered part of the PhD experience. Yes, your research and your dissertation are the most important parts of the experience. But there’s a whole host of other factors that can add to your time and make you more competitive on the job market, academic or otherwise. Most important of all though, it’s a great way to meet other PhD students, academics, and build strong friendships/relationships.
That said, it can be a difficult experience as well. To be honest, I think I underestimated a bit how many moving parts there would be. At the outset, I imagined it would go smoother than it has. That’s obviously no one’s fault – it’s just the nature of conference organising, which can happen even in the best of times, let alone during a pandemic. But it’s important nevertheless to keep that in mind if you are planning to organise a conference in the future.
Perhaps it’s obvious from the fact I’m writing this post, but planning a conference is something I would definitely recommend you do as part of your PhD. This conference is going to be completely online as part of our commitment to EDI and accessibility. We’re looking forward to welcoming a wide range of folks who will hopefully benefit from the conference.
It’s been a lot of work and there have been some challenges, but it’s more importantly been a lot of fun. If you can help plan a conference, or even a workshop, during your PhD I highly suggest you do.