There are a wide range of conferences to attend out there. In 2017, there have been over 245 Data Science, Machine learning and AI conferences, summits and events happening all over the world.
Industry surveys suggest that 40 to 45 percent of Data Scientists have attended at least one conference in the last two years. Attendees have different motivations, including sharpening their skills, networking, finding new work opportunities, meeting their peers, etc. Whatever reason you have to attend a Data Science conference, here are 9 easy steps to ensure you get the most from your experience.
1. Prepare for the conference in advance: Spend a few hours in the weeks coming up to the conference to educate yourself on who is going to be there, what topics are going to be covered, what the sessions are, the layout of the space, who in your network is going to be there, and so on.
2. Do not fill your schedule fully: If you build a schedule for the conference, make sure to allow for some flexibility on last-minute sessions that look interesting or recommendations you get from others. Having some flexibility will allow you for some spontaneous finds. Many conference attendees report anecdotally that some of their best moments at conferences have been the surprise or spontaneous talks they attended that they didn’t plan for.
3. Be open to new ideas: Attend a few sessions that are not related to your core work or expertise. See what else is available out there to widen your horizons.
4. Put a time aside to do your work: Your projects at work won’t stop because you are at a conference. If you let them all pile up, you will likely be playing catch up after the conference and find yourself being chased by your colleagues to meet deadlines. Make sure you spend a certain amount of time each day on your regular work if you have deadlines the week that follows the conference.
5. Leave your shyness at home: If you tend to feel awkward at events such as these, try to branch out and make connections, rather than just going from talk to talk on your own without speaking to anyone. Keep in mind that if you feel awkward, there’s a good chance that others do too.
6. Network aimfully: Decide on the ideal people you would like to talk to, what you want to focus on, and what you’d like to find out from others, rather than just chatting randomly for the whole conference. Obviously, a bit of social time is great, but if you are intentional with your networking, you are likely to come away with a more well-crafted outcome.
7. See what else is happening in a conference: Do not focus on talk sessions only. A conference has many other things happening such as networking receptions, vendor expos, book signing, official and unofficial dinners, subject-focused meetings, office hours etc. Try and get a balance between learning and experiencing all that is on offer.
8. Accept that you can not learn everything in 2,3 days: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to attend the maximum amount of sessions. The aim of a conference is to show you possibilities. No one can learn all subjects in a few days, and try to learn everything with likely take the enjoyment out of the other aspects of the conference for
9. See what else is happening in a conference: Do not focus on talk sessions only. A conference has many other things happening such as Networking receptions, Book signing, official and unofficial dinners,subject-focused meetings, office hours and much more. See what is interesting and go to those extra sessions even if that means you miss a session. You can achieve a lot from those sessions.
ODSC gathers the attendees, presenters, and companies that are shaping the present and future of data science and AI. ODSC hosts one of the largest gatherings of professional data scientists with major conferences in USA, Europe, and Asia.