Organize a conference? Why not!

We all know it’s great to attend and present at conferences as a PhD student, but how about organizing one? Sixian shares her experience of organising CAL’s annual postgraduate conference and shows us what’s it like on the other side… 

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Registration on the first conference day

“I can foresee what our participants would do on the first day of the conference,” Daniel, our team advisor, said when he came into the work meeting.

We were bouncing blue rubber balls off one another, off the floor and tables. The balls lit up and flashed and kept the team well entertained. It was an awesome item to include in the goodie bags for the conference and was part of a generous sponsorship from a publishing giant, who sent these bouncy balls amongst other items. But with most good things, there is always a catch. They have sent the items in random numbers, most of which were less than the numbers of participants anticipated. Thankfully, they generously acceded to our request to send more items subsequently.

Conference delegates mingling

This is but one of the little, unexpected situations that can crop up in any kind of event organization. So having a flexible, understanding team who is willing to improvise and find solutions was a godsend. Together with fellow postgrad students from the centre, we successfully organized Warwick’s annual Postgraduate conference in Applied Linguistics .

The team got together one last time before we part our for our respective paths and home after studies

It is true that organizing a conference requires a lot of time and effort, in particular, a lot of communication and coordination between team members. For instance, my colleagues seeking sponsorships need to work closely with the ones doing promotion to ensure that sponsors get the necessary publicity accordingly. We often work on a tight schedule in order to get publicity materials printed on time, catering orders confirmed …etc. We also have to find solutions to unexpected situations that crop up, especially during the conference days. It can be stressful but this is eased by open communication, mutual understanding and basically, a team that was willing to work towards a common goal.

Text and photo credits:  Sixian Hah, #wpgcal2016 committee

Sixian is a PhD student in Warwick. She tweets at @jo_hsx .

Have you taken part in organising any similar events? How was your experience? Do you have any tips to share? 🙂

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