So the MRS meeting is now over, and we're all back home, but that means it's time to start planning ahead for your next one. As students, there's a lot for us to see and do. Here's some tips to consider when you go to your next MRS meeting.
- If you can, go to the MRS chapter mixer. I couldn't do it at the Fall 2017 meeting because my flight got in too late, but this time I was able to come in at the last minute. No one else from my department was at this meeting (and I only found out later that two other people from my university were coming), so the mixer was a great chance to meet other students and I quickly ran into two other people who were also the only ones from their institutions and we chatted about our work. Then we got invited to go with other students to see bars and restaurants nearby, and I kept in touch with a lot of those people through the week.
- Go to sessions beyond your own symposium. MRS is interdisciplinary, so it's worth it to see what other people are doing in the broad materials community that it gathers. Get inspired about potential applications of your own materials, or just broaden your knowledge. I spent a lot of time at the AI symposium because it was a new field I didn't know much about. This is also made easier if you do the first tip, because you can check out talks other MRS students are presenting or they recommend seeing.
- Check out the exhibitors, even if you're not looking for new supplies Nearly all the exhibitors are not expecting students to buy anything, so don't worry about that. But they'll gladly talk to you about your products and answer your questions, so maybe you can learn more about how to solve experimental problems you might be having or just ask more questions about supplies and get faster feedback than email. At this meeting, I talked to a company that makes instruments to characterize particles. I mentioned we had an older version of the one they were displaying, and they asked how our lab's instrument was doing. When I said I didn't use it much yet and mentioned that I was going to need to train myself because no one currently in the lab has used it before, they offered to send me tutorial materials. Also, MRS has booths talking about other activities the society does so it's cool to learn what else you can support.
- Bring some business cards! They're a great way to share contact info with other students, professors, and exhibitors. If you're really looking for a job, bring your resume, but business cards are more convenient to just share contact info. Some schools may provide cards for their students, but you can also find good ones for a cheap price online now. You'll probably end up with more than you need, but you can give them out at other events from then on.
- Don't be afraid to talk to more senior researchers. If there's someone you really want to talk to after a session, go for it. People are generally enthusiastic about sharing their work and enjoy getting to talk more if you have questions. At worst, you might only get a short answer to a question, but you might also get to have a good conversation and connections for your work.