As I prepare to embark on another journey to the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP), I started to reflect on how the purpose and meaning of the conference evolves each year as I further develop and make progress in my I/O career. I find that SIOP reminds me of how far I have come in the journey of a scientist-practitioner.
My first SIOP conference was in 2007, when the conference fortuitously took place right where I live in New York City. I remember the feeling of overwhelming excitement at attending a national conference. I was overly enthusiastic for the opportunity to listen to some of the great scholars whose papers I had read and been inspired by. That first conference was a whirlwind of activity and I often remember feeling exhausted at the end of each day from expending too much energy attempting to attend every session and listen to every speaker that I was interested in. I often wonder how much I got out of that first conference other than just being utterly enervated.
I look back at that youthful naiveté of the individual who was running from one conference session to another and I smile at that young exuberance. After 9 years of attending SIOP conferences off and on, here’s what I look forward to most.
1) Conference sessions-the program at SIOP is usually very good and full of sessions that I enjoy attending. Unlike other conferences that I attend (Association for Psychological Science, Eastern Psychological Association, etc.), I love attending sessions that are geared towards my particular research interests. It’s also great to hear about what’s happening in other areas of IO psychology that I might not have much expertise in. That cross-pollination of ideas is key to future innovations in the field.
2) Expand your network- I love meeting new people at SIOP…If you’re attending this year’s conference just swing by and say hello! If attending sessions outside of your interest area can spark an idea, the same is true from speaking to new people at the conference. Whether you’re an academic who is the only IO in your department, or if you’re a practitioner who works with people who have only the vaguest notion of what IO psychology is, SIOP can be a great way to reinvigorate your approach to your work. Part of that reenergizing comes from meeting new people. If you’re an experienced conference attendee, provide mentorship to those newbies who are attending the conference for the first time. If you’re a first-timer, don’t be shy about speaking to someone you don’t know. Go to the poster session and meet people who are there to talk about their research. It may come across as common sense, but speaking to others is the simplest and most direct way to get to know your colleagues in the field. It may give you some ideas for your own research or even where you want your career to go. One of my best SIOP experiences was serving as a conference ambassador. The ambassador program is a great resource for newcomers seeking advice on attending the conference and making the most of the offerings.
3) Reconnect- One of the best parts of SIOP is reconnecting with old colleagues and friends from graduate school or previous jobs. Sometimes life is so busy that SIOP is the only time where you get a chance to reconnect. As you grow in your careers, you’ll find that reconnecting with old colleagues is as important as meeting future colleagues. Networking isn’t just about meeting new people, but maintaining strong relationships with those with whom you’ve already worked.
4) Have fun-Make sure to carve out time to go to the different parties and events. Conferences aren’t just about attending sessions they’re about building relationships and learning from other scientist-practitioners in the field. Whether you’re a seasoned IO veteran, or a young graduate student just making their way through their first conference, listening to someone else’s lived human experience is invaluable. You’ll gain insights that you can carry back home with you.
If you’d like some further reading on the topic, Richard Landers has a great post about attending the SIOP conference this year. I’ll be live tweeting during some of the sessions that I attend please reach out feel free to reach out to me @IOSyIslam
I’ll also be writing a post-SIOP review where I’ll discuss some of my takeaways from the conference.
Have a wonderful SIOP!