I was a co-presenter with my grad student mentor and RockStar MRU professor. It made me very excited for the day when I get to present my own work at one of these conferences.
Last year, I was going to go to the APA conference in Boston. I figured I really had no excuse since I could drive there. But the conference was held fairly shortly after I separated from my husband so money was tight and I wasn't too keen on the idea of showing up at this HUGE convention by myself, not knowing anyone. It would have been overwhelming and intimidating. I ended up not going, and I regret that decision to this day.
The main reason I regret it is that it would have been a prime opportunity for networking. EVERYONE in all fields of psych go to the APA conference. It's like the Oscars of psychology. I'm willing to bet that had I not been a chicken shit and found the cojones to show up and boldly introduce myself to people, my grad school applications would have taken a completely different turn in terms of outcomes.
My advice to other grad applicants in psych - GO TO APA. You're spending a shitload of money on applications as it is, what's another few hundred bucks to actually meet and greet your potential advisors? Then when you email them prior to applying, you'll be able to say that you've met them before (and hope that they remember).
But back to the conference this weekend. It was a smaller conference - the perfect size for a n00b like me. I found myself eagerly glancing at name tags, looking for names I recognized, wanting to introduce myself and speak to anyone and everyone who was willing to give me the time of day. It was a very casual atmosphere - everyone was very laid-back and friendly. There were people there from all over the country, and many of them were presenting some very Hot Science. I made a new friend who's a grad student from NYC studying the effects of exotic dance classes on positive self-image. I plan on reviewing her paper on here once I get her permission to do so. It was very cool stuff.
So now I'm going to be a conference junkie, especially since my husband is going to be gone for so long. I'm going to go to every single one I can make it to without spending a ton of $$$ on travel.
And dammit, I'm going to APA this year if it kills me.