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What Conference Travel is Actually Like

As Mr. (Dr.?) Le Chic Geek, it’s fitting that my job has some travel, typically to academic conferences built around an academic calendar.

To be honest, some conferences are nicer to go to than others. This has to do with the time of year they are being held, and the location they decide to have it in.

academic conference

I often attend the American Philosophical Association division meetings as an observer and talent scout of sorts. The Eastern meetings are held on the East Coast in January. (They thankfully moved the date – it used to be held two days after Christmas, and nothing was more depressing than having one’s holiday plans interrupted by the hopes that one would get a job interview at the conference.) The typical cities are DC, Baltimore, Philly, NYC, and Boston.

However, since the Eastern meetings often coincide with wintry weather when held in the Northeast, it can be difficult to find convenient free time outside of the hotel. Boston 2010 was held right after a major snowstorm that almost shut down the East. Maybe a third of the planned attendees were able to make the conference, and getting around town was not easy.

I’m personally a fan of Boston, but it’s a huge gamble to have a huge event–especially one that involves hiring–in the Boston area in the winter. The specific conference I mentioned is where most of the philosopher hiring is done. I saw story after story of graduate student (hoping to get hired as a faculty member) beating all the odds to make it to the conference during this historic storm, only to find out the hiring committee gave up on trying to travel to the conference.

I only made it to that specific conference because I was traveling to New York for the holidays and already had the Acela booked up to Boston.

Lately. this conference has had more events have been held in the south, such as in Atlanta, but no offense…it’s Atlanta. (Editors note: Though, the bar at the top of the Westin there and the aquarium are both awesome).

So I have to admit the Pacific trips are typically nicer. They are held in April while the job market season for philosophers has lulled. The nice thing is the job takes me to some cities out west I might not otherwise have visited, at least for awhile. Vancouver, BC was beautiful albeit very expensive, but the first thing I did was order poutine and watch curling. When in Canada…I also got to visit the Bay Area for the first time. Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, where I got some fresh oysters as well.

The visits are often very short…what do you do on a short trip to get away from work, particular if the weather is bad?

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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One comment

  1. Sorry, but what is conference travel like? I now know what happens at conferences (hiring), but other than that…..

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