Hi! In 2019, as a first-year and of course, when things were normal, a big part of my involvement with societies was all the conferences or summits I attended. These ranged from course related events to cultural events to career events and some were at Warwick and some were even in London. If I recall correctly, I went to around 7 conferences: Warwick Economics Summit, Warwick India Forum, WFS Fintech Conference, WFS Women in Finance, Warwick Women’s Summit, Warwick Women in Economics Workshop and probably a few more. Besides this, I also attended many workshops and company presentations, which I usually found through MyAdvantage or just through Facebook. Such events were actually a highlight of my university experience because I got to meet so many people through these and was exposed to so many different careers and topics. I even had (have actually!) a notebook dedicated to my notes from such events and just from my first year, almost half the book was filled.
Well, that’s enough reminiscing for one post and now in my second year, the uni experience obviously looks very different. That’s not a reason to fret, at least in this regard, as societies have all adapted and most are conducting such summits and conferences online. I have already attended two this year and am looking forward to attending around three more. In fact, this year, it’s even easier to attend conferences from other universities or organizations, even worldwide, because everything is remote anyway! That’s at least one silver lining with this situation.
So, today, I’m going to tell you why you should attend such events and what I enjoyed most about these from my experiences.
Firstly, there’s quite an array of conferences/summits to choose from. Besides the ones I have already mentioned, there is the TedX event, Warwick Congress, Warwick Asean Conference, Warwick Africa Summit, London Consulting Summit and so many more. For me, these events helped me learn more about possible future career pathways and thus decide what I’d be interested in or might want to pursue. Warwick Women’s Summit was another favourite of mine from last year and not just because I was part of one of the organizing societies. It was a wonderful atmosphere and I genuinely felt the support and sisterhood, as well as learned a lot, beyond academics or careers. We had some wonderful speakers discussing topics from mental health to self-defence to women in STEM and so much more. I also really enjoyed the Warwick Economics Summit, naturally, as an econ student but it was not limited to economics alone and I was able to listen to amazing speakers from other disciplines such as international relations and health policy. Warwick India Forum is very close to my heart, as one of my first societies and one that I have led this year and I got the chance to meet some imminent personalities (and fangirl of course!).
I just realized I spent another paragraph reminiscing. Oops! But what can I say, it was genuinely so fun to go to all these events! This year looks quite different, but I think online summits can be quite as engaging too. For one, it makes access much easier as most events are free now and you can attend from wherever you are located right now. As I mentioned before, the career related conferences are especially useful for first years to explore different options and if you’re a second year, it gives you a chance to network! This might sound like a buzzword to you or maybe it’s something you’re afraid of (like me!) but it’s basically having the chance to meet and establish relationships with others, be it your peers or the speakers you meet! Admittedly, when such events are online, you lose out a little bit on the personal interaction, such as talking to the people sitting nearby or chatting over lunch and the bustling atmosphere and excitement. However, we must make do with what we have and make the best of it!
Besides conferences, I also attended many workshops and company presentations, which were so useful in learning and developing new skills. For example, I attended several case study workshops which introduced me to consulting and then helped me develop the necessary problem solving skills further as well as discovering new techniques. It doesn’t have to be career specific and can often be as simple as public speaking workshops or another one I attended such as the Warwick Women in Economics workshop. I did not personally present at this event, but it was a wonderful experience to engage and discuss how we can make economics more inclusive and even led to the creation of a new society – Warwick Women in Economics!
So, there are the obvious academic and career benefits to attending such events but I think what’s actually important is the chance to meet peers! I made quite a few friends through these events and especially this year, when things are online with minimal chances to meet new people face-to-face, it might be nice to have an excuse to make friends online and then message them later about the event or society. And finally, these events will introduce you to the societies itself so you can find out more about getting involved in the next year and perhaps be part of organizing such an event yourself!
I hope this post was interesting and has convinced you to attend some conferences this year!