This is a check list of my ‘must-take’ conference items. This list is for the conference itself not the entire trip (if you are travelling for a conference).
1) A water bottle- I do not leave the house without a water bottle, so this is an obvious choice for me. Although most conferences will provide water, having your own bottle is easier and means less plastic cups (better for the environment!).
2) Back up snack- Again you generally are provided with food at conferences, however taking back up snacks is a good safety net (in case you do not like the food provided, or like me, you have dietary requirements).
3) Paper/pen- You most likely will not take detailed notes like you would (or should) in a undergraduate lecture, but the talks may inspire you or discuss something you haven’t heard of before and that you want to remember.
4) A smile- Cliché yes, but necessary also.
5) Business cards- Which is something I actually did not take. As a first year PhD student it did not even occur to me that I should have business cards, they feel way too professional! However, I was asked multiple times for a card so I have learnt my lesson.
6) Laptop- There are many breaks throughout the day when you can sneak 10 minutes to reply to emails, or even finish a small task.
7) Layered clothing- No matter what the season or weather forecast always wear layers. The rooms that the presentations are held in have a funny habit of being freezing in the middle of summer or extra cozy in the middle of winter.
8) An article- Just in case some of the presentations are not your forte (I don’t want to say boring because, that is subjective and to some people it would be the most interesting presentation of the day) you have something else to do. Just don’t be rude and make it obvious that you are not paying attention to the speaker, as we all have to be in their shoes.