As I sat at the front of a session ready to help a presenter test their computer before the session started, a professor sat down in the front row, turned around to me, and reached out his hand. Glancing down at my name badge, he said “Thank you for assisting, Kathy” and I beamed. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a bit of a fangirl. He’d been invited by MRS to giving the opening talk of the session as one of the invited speakers, which also meant he had a line of people waiting to talk to him after his talk. Yet I was in a position to chat 1:1 with him (even about east vs. west coast life!) before the session even started! When I signed up to be a Symposium Assistant, I didn’t expect it’d come with unique opportunities to be up front and meet some really famous & respected speakers.
For any younger Ph.D. students who are attending MRS mainly to absorb information or to anyone who’s okay with not being able to bounce around between rooms mid-session, I’d highly recommend signing up to a be an MRS Symposium Assistant! They cover your registration fee and you have the opportunity to be up-front and help out all the speakers. It feels a bit like being a ballgirl at the Wimbledon: sitting ready to troubleshoot, passing around microphones from speaker to speaker, and occasionally running to the AV help table for buggy projectors. In particular, being up front actually made me feel more tuned into talks and also felt like a good preparation for preparing for my own future talks.