The annual APA convention is a truly fascinating event. I have several meetings under my belt now, and I have only good things to say. I also firmly believe that every psychologist, neuroscientist and psychology student should attend it. And while we all might have slightly different reasons for coming to it, I want to share the 10 reasons why I love attending the annual APA convention.
1. It’s the biggest gathering of psychologists and psychology students in the world. I think this reason alone is enough to want to attend the convention. No other event (anywhere) has as many attendees as the APA convention, and your chances of meeting and hearing world-renowned psychologists and researchers are greatest nowhere else but right here.
2. Networking. This almost goes without saying, but the annual convention of the APA is probably the best place to network if you are working or studying in the area of psychology. This applies to both networking with other specialists in your field, as well as with people from other fields in psychology, making the convention unique in that regard.
3. Diversifying yourself. It is important to stay up to date on the general literature and advances in the field, not just on the specific area that you work in. Personally, I probably learn most about the research that is outside my own area (appetite and addiction) at the annual APA convention.
4. Perusing posters. It is a great way to see summaries (in five minutes or less) of some hot-off-the-press research. By coming to the APA convention, I am one of the first to learn about the newest research that is taking place in the field of psychology.
5. Bumping into or setting up meetings with people whom you might not otherwise see.People come from all over to attend the annual APA convention. Although we tend to feel like we keep in touch with people via social media or email, the truth is that seeing people in person is really important, too, and helps to solidify connections. When I come to APA, I make a plan to meet up with former colleagues, mentors and friends beforehand, and look forward to bumping into other people at the meeting.
6. Meeting the psychology “giants” you admire most. Many of us have at least a few researchers, doctors, educators or policymakers in our field we truly admire and look up to. There may be few opportunities to meet them in person, especially because they tend to be the busiest people. However, many of them come to the convention (even if not every year), making it the best place to meet them, introduce yourself and learn even more about the work they do.
7. Meeting graduate students. Even though I finished graduate school (what feels like) a long time ago, I always find it exciting to meet new graduate students. It’s refreshing at the very least, and I sometimes meet some who are deeply interested in areas of psychology that are close to my own field.
8. The number and variety of sessions provided. The annual APA convention provides so many different sessions and different types of sessions that I always find more than a few (and more often than not, too many) sessions that I want to attend.
9. Continuing education credits. The convention provides an excellent opportunity to be a lifelong learner and to continuously add to my professional development. I can also meet very well-known psychologists and experts in the field, who often lead the workshops.
10. It’s fun. The whole experience of the convention itself is unbelievable, even if sometimes it may feel overwhelming. I cannot think of many other professional, academic, or educational events (that are also very social) that would top the annual APA convention.
Nicole Avena, PhD studies appetite and addiction at the NY Obesity Research Center, at Columbia University. You can learn more about her work at DrNicoleAvena.com. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook, or on her Psychology Today blog.