Guide for First Time Attendees

A note: Welcome! We’re glad you’re here! This guide was put together by members of the American Geophysical Union Hydrology Section Student Subcommittee (H3S) with help from the wider AGU community in hopes of making the AGU Fall Meeting less overwhelming. The tips below are based on experiences from veteran attendees about what they’ve learned over the years. This guide is meant for everyone, and not one section in particular. Many of the guides and tips are also applicable for virtual attendees too! In this guide, you’ll find information on some things to pack, what to wear, what to bring, how to interact with people, and things to see and do. We look forward to seeing you at the AGU Fall Meeting!

Before the Conference:

What to pack:

  • Comfortable shoes and clothes — you will be walking about 5 miles a day and on your feet a lot. Comfortable shoes are key! Also, many people will be wearing jeans and button down shirts. Do not feel like you have to wear a suit. Check out this Style Guide for reference. 
  • Water bottle and hot drink thermos
  • Masks, tissues, hand sanitizer, cough drops, cold medicine. Interacting with tons of people plus lack of sleep and stress will be hard on your immune system
  • Backpack so you can keep your hands free
  • Snacks to munch on during the day
  • An umbrella or a rain jacket – something handy just in case
  • Some way to access the schedule — phone with AGU app or downloaded, or printed
  • pen/ notebook/ computer to take notes

Planning out your general schedule:

  • Look at the Scientific Program in Advance and use the “My Schedule” tool to make your schedule and export it to Excel or your calendar. (Walk through on this in the appendix)
  • Account for how large the convention center is and factor in 15-20 minutes to get around. For the 2021 Fall Meeting in New Orleans, the convention center is about a mile long. 
  • Find some sessions that are interesting to you (both in and outside your area of study) to just sit at and listen. Hopping between talks in different sessions gets exhausting. 
  • Attend the various mixers/ socials/ trivia/ networking events that are put on in the evenings throughout the week. They’re a fun way to meet people!
  • SCHEDULE BREAKS — AGU is a big conference with a lot of people and things to see and do. Don’t run yourself ragged by trying to do and see everything. Give yourself time to rest. 
  • There is so much cool research happening and you might learn something!
    • Walk through a poster section that’s not your own. AGU is a massively diverse scientific community

Reaching out in Advance: 

  • Email people you want to talk to before the conference and try to schedule a lunch or coffee break with them at the conference.
  • Connect with old colleagues and friends as well!
  • Ask your advisor ahead of time to introduce you to some more senior scientists
  • Reach out to H3S members or more senior PhDs or Post-docs in your group and ask them to be your conference buddy and help guide you around!
  • Virtual attendees: schedule watch parties with others in your lab 

At the Conference

Socializing/ Networking

  • When you get your nametag, make sure you stop by the ribbon station and get a “first time attendee” ribbon to add! People are likely to reach out and make sure you aren’t lost.
  • Use poster sessions to network! Everyone is already chatting and socializing, find a group and join them!
  • Include yourself in conversations where you know some people, like chats at the poster halls — don’t be afraid to start conversations with the more senior scientists!
  • Get to know your peers! They will be your future colleagues that you might write proposals with and collaborate with in the future. They are as important as the big names in your field
  • Ask people if you can join them for dinners or coffee breaks that you’ve been chatting with.
  • For virtual attendees: use GatherTown and similar programs to connect with other virtual attendees

Appreciating the Science

  • Reflect daily. At the end of the day (or first thing the following morning), write down the most interesting/exciting thing (or two things) you learned that day and why. At the end of the week, rank them.
  • Take notes so you can stay engaged and remember the science later!
  • Be sure to check out the Town Halls, Named Lectures, and Plenary Talks

Other General Tips:

  • Don’t carry too much stuff with you, your neck and back will thank you
  • Go to the exhibitor hall! — tons of free swag and fun place to shop around, and explore
  • DO NOT FEEL OBLIGATED TO DRINK ALCOHOL. Many events like the poster sessions will offer alcoholic beverages, but that does not mean you have to drink. And do not let anyone peer pressure you into it. Non-alcoholic options will be available! 
  • Make sure you find people you do know and spend time with them. They’ll help lessen the feeling of isolation.
  • Virtual attendees: still schedule coffee meetings with others and engage as much as possible in hybrid and online sessions
  • Other tips: https://blogs.agu.org/geoedtrek/2018/12/06/first-timers-guide/
  • Check out the Best Practices Guide from Biogeosciences DEI Steering committee

Schedule and Scientific Program:

Things to see and do in New Orleans:

Food and Drink Scene:

  • Bourbon St and the French Quarter — lots of great food and drink options along here
  • Have the famous Hurricane (can get the alcohol free kind) at Pat O’Brien’s 
  • Eat Beignets at Cafe DuMonde
  • Have a drink at the Carousel Bar inside Hotel Monteleone
  • Try a po’boy, étouffée, gumbo, and jambalaya
  • Haunted Pub Crawl
  • Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar — oldest bar in the US

Other Sites and things to do:

Things to do if you’re attending virtually

  • Trivia, Gathertown, Braindates, and watch parties

Highlighting your talk/ poster

  • Share details about your talk/ poster on Twitter!
    • Use hashtags like #AGU21 or #H3SatAGU
  • Tell your friends about your talk/ poster and encourage them to come.
    • Return the favor by attending theirs
  • Have collaborators, advisors, PIs plug your talk at the end of theirs!
  • Invite people you meet at AGU to attend your presentation and be sure to attend theirs! It’s a great way to build connections, network, and learn new science!

Appendix:

Scientific Program Information

What is the Scientific Program?

The “Scientific Program” is a very important resource for Fall Meeting. It is a schedule of all the different presentations and events, with times, rooms, presenters, and descriptions. With tens of thousands of events on the schedule, it can be daunting! Here are some tips to help navigate it and find the events for you.

How do I find it?

The Scientific Program can be found on the AGU Fall Meeting Website. Click the “Schedule” tab up top, find the “Scientific Program” subtab, and select “View Program”. That will take you to the Scientific Program. In the upper left corner, click the “Sign in” button to sign into your AGU account. This will allow you to develop a schedule and connect with presenters.

How do I keep track of the talks I’m interested in?

You can create a personal schedule, “My Schedule” and save talks and sessions you’re interested in and download that schedule to access later. If you know what section you want to browse, select “Browse by Sections” and click on the desired section. It’ll pull up all the sessions by that section in order of date and time. If there is a session you want, click on the ‘+’ next to it and it’ll turn into a calendar icon with a check mark (see below). If there is a specific presentation (oral, eLightning, or poster) within that session, click on the session title, scroll down, and you’ll see the individual presentations with the same ‘+’ icon to add that presentation to your calendar. 

If there is a talk by someone you know, select the ‘search’ button on the scientific program side bar and type their name. Select the name, and you can see the presentations they are authors on. Select those individual presentations to add them to your schedule.

When you have finished adding the talks, navigate to the calendar button with a check mark at the top of the page and select it. From there, you can see the session you have added to your personal schedule and can download it as ICS (for calendar), XLSX, or PDF (see image below). Downloading your schedule allows you to avoid navigating the scientific program during the conference which can get overloaded. 

A printable PDF of this guide is here.

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