As a first time attendee at MLA ‘18, I went to Atlanta with no expectations beyond having a great time. Now that MLA ‘18 has wrapped, I can happily say that it lived up to the hype! Here are a few tips I picked up as a first-timer:
- Try out Colleague Connection. Before the conference, keep an eye out for an email about Colleague Connection, a mentoring program that pairs new MLA members/first time attendees with conference mentors. I participated in this program as a mentee, and beyond the lovely breakfast, it was immensely helpful to have an experienced attendee to talk to, from questions about must-do activities to lunch plans.
- Just say “hello.” MLA ‘18 attendees were very friendly. Unlike formal networking, an experience I dread, informally chatting with other attendees was one of the highlights of my experience. Don’t worry; people want to talk to you, too, so be sure to introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you at a panel.
- Try not to overload your schedule. MLA ‘18 was jam-packed with content, and I made a detailed event schedule before I left for Atlanta. Lo and behold, my plans changed as the conference got rolling. From learning about different presentations to simply needing a break, I found that it’s perfectly ok to change your plans. No matter what, you will leave having gained a plethora of new ideas to take home.
If you’re considering going to MLA for the first time, be prepared to have a transformative experience and to walk away ready for the next MLA annual meeting!