Recently, David Kenneth Waldman, a Walden Public Policy and Administration doctoral student, had a proposal accepted at a national conference. Asked if he would be willling to share his experience and advice, David shared his success story as follows:
Finding opportunities to present is a process developed over the course of a career. The goal of an education is to match your training, expertise, and experiences with opportunities. As a doctoral student, that meant finding places where I could share my theories, research, and field experiences with my peers.
My career goal is to be in front of numerous peers, practitioners, and scholars who can inform my work and research. I started early to build a network of professionals that have helped to advance my academic and career goals. I wondered how does one compete against PhD candidates, and peers already holding a doctorate, to get accepted to present at major conferences?
My solution was you do not compete. I positioned myself in my niche of expertise, which is sustainable educational development of the girl child. Conferences seek scholars-practitioners to meet their need for obtaining the best of the best participants for their programs. My proposal “Break the Cycle of Poverty: Sustainable Educational Development Opportunities for the Girl Child,” was accepted for presentation at the American Society for Public Administration’s 71st Annual Conference. I was selected to share my expert knowledge and experience with my peers. The lesson to learn is that this is a process, not an end result of a successful acceptance.
Here is a short checklist to build your academic and career credentials.
1. Select a topic where you have a great deal of passion, experience and expertise. I used my KAM VI paper and adapted it to match the conference’s theme. I already knew that my KAM passed the Walden rubric and so was already peer reviewed. Develop your ideas in your research papers. Remember this is a process.
2. Your goal is to always look for appropriate opportunities to submit to conferences whose theme matches your expertise. I took notes of any call for proposals, research conferences in my field, and joined professional organizations such as ASPA to learn the kind of proposals and themes they look for. I submitted to get practice and to get my name in front of key people who sit on selection committees. While you may be rejected one year, your name and expertise will be remembered.
3. When you read a text book, look to see if that author is head of a professional organization. Write them an e-mail and present your ideas and interests to build your professional network.
4. When you attend your next Walden Residency, find professors who have presented and ask them how they started out as a presenter. Attend sessions on academic writing as you will be selected based on your ability to write with a doctoral voice. If offered, attend the session on how to further your career once you graduate by publishing and presenting at conferences. And one more fun thing, attend as many conferences as you can. Over the course of my career, I have attended hundreds that were either career sponsored or professional conferences that helped advance my career. The rewards will come to you.
Written by David Kenneth Waldman, Ph.D. Student, School of Public Policy and Public Administration
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