To students who may or may not have considered participating in a conference, I highly recommend that they take this valuable step toward their future careers. UM-Flint has so many opportunities available to students to take advantage of that will set them apart and give them an edge. I recently had the opportunity to participate in a conference the week of September 19 – 25, with art historians from all over the United States, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, England and France, which took place at the Manchester Art Gallery in Manchester, UK. It was my first time traveling beyond our shores and honestly, it was not until an entire day had passed, after I returned home, that it occurred to me to look at the new stamp in my passport. Although I can now say that I have been to England, I must point out that this was very much a ‘working’ trip. Attending a conference is not a vacation of sightseeing and leisure, it is a focused and purposeful trip that entails many functions that relate to my research, provides networking opportunities with fellow academics, and allowed me to not only hear new scholarship on various art historical topics, but to participate shoulder to shoulder on a professional level with scholars who excel in their field.
Attending the 2016 Annual International Conference for the Paragone Society was a glimpse into the world of my future career, a prestigious entry for my resume and curriculum vitae, and a most valuable opportunity to examine art works in person. On a personal level, the experience gave me a chance to see how I ‘measure up’ at this point in my studies, to evaluate where I want to take my research, and what skills I wish to hone. At the same time, working as an assistant to the Paragone Society’s director, Dr. Sarah Lippert, has given me behind-the-scenes experience in conducting a conference, a much more complicated endeavor than I would have imagined, had I not had this experience. In all, I would have to say that ‘The Conference Experience’ has reinforced to me that I have something unique to bring to the table. It has raised my level of confidence and shown me that I do indeed have a perspective, a background, and a voice to contribute. Are you considering participating in a conference? My advice: Just Do It. You will be glad you did.