I am such a self contained media node that I am writing my eagerly anticipated BSHS conference summary on the train back to Leeds. There will of course be much more valuable accounts to follow in the coming weeks, but how could they compare to the half-baked ramblings of a fatigued posh bloke fuelled only by Red Bull? To be honest, there is no way I can pack in everything that happened over the four days. Instead I want to embarrass my future 40 year old self by listing the five most valuable lessons I learned from my first professional conference experience. (I did do the BSHS postgrad, but that’s a different beast.)
1. Give a paper: it makes the whole thing a hell of a lot easier. People can see what you’re interested in, the themes you’re trying to pursue and (there’s no getting away from it) you look more legitimate.
2. Talk to anyone: this is a fairly well-worn bit of advice but it has been pretty crucial in making the conference a success for me. By complete accident I found someone working on an institute comparable to mine, established the same year, but in Italy. I also found someone working on this topic but with regards to Sweden. This was properly exciting.
3. Choose some non-obvious sessions: I was given this advice beforehand and it paid dividends. I went to a public health session and found Rebecca Whyte was studying standardisation problems not dissimilar to my own and the Board of Longitude panel was jam packed with public/private discussion. This will all go towards making my own research much much richer, so cheers!
4. Take a break: I began by going to every available panel and by the third day had started to cluck. So on the Saturday afternoon Becky Bowd and I went exploring Exeter’s underground tunnels. This did me no end of good and meant I got a great deal more from the sessions I went on to attend.
5. Stay up past your bed time: I had some of my most interesting conversations in the bar, many were even HPS based. Doing this well requires a good knowledge of alcohol-emy and my success in practising this art is entirely fo r others to judge.
Basically the conference was fantastic, but then you expected me to say that didn’t you?
Also the food was good.