Want to hear the best speakers psychology has to offer? Looking to network with people in your specialty area? Then book your trip to Toronto for APA's 2009 Annual Convention, Aug. 6-9. The typical APA meeting is attended by roughly 12,000 psychologists and students and offers hundreds of sessions on just about every topic in psychology. The meeting's size means you'll be sure to find programming to pique your interest—but also calls for a little advance planning to maximize your experience.
A few tips:
Apply for a passport today. As October 2008, U.S. citizens need a passport to travel to Canada. Currently, it takes about three weeks to get one, though you can apply for expedited service for an additional $60. For more information, visit the U.S. passport web site.
Plan your days. Peruse the convention program before the meeting to digest options and choose sessions, say convention experts. You can do so by cracking open the hard copy of the program, which is mailed to pre-registered conference attendees, or by searching the online version, which will be posted on the convention Web site in July. Use the program's city map and hotel and convention center layouts to familiarize yourself.
Stop by an orientation. If you're a first-time attendee, go to an APA or American Psychological Association of Graduate Students orientation seminar on the first day of convention to learn meeting ins and outs.
Build your network. Seize the myriad opportunities to meet colleagues, future collaborators and potential employers, advise veteran convention-goers. Many attendees chat after sessions or gather at specialty-area social hours, which are listed in the program and are open to all attendees. Bring business cards, and don't pass up the opportunity to introduce yourself, invite a new contact to dinner or exchange e-mail addresses. That said, the idea is to establish contacts—not to monopolize someone's time. Presenters may have a line of people waiting to chat or another social obligation or presentation to attend.
Cast a wide net. Hit the key sessions in your area of focus, but then don't be shy about attending a talk by a big name speaker in another branch of psychology—or about stepping into a session with a title that just piqued your interest.
Capitalize on your free time. Pad your schedule with enough open time to grab a cup of coffee, peruse the exhibit hall or just take a brain break. Four or five sessions a day will make for a full but manageable schedule, many say. Got a few hours to spare? Take a tour of the secret passages in Toronto's Casa Loma. Formerly the castle of Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt, Casa Loma features a five-acre garden, an 800 foot-tunnel, towers and lavishly decorated suites. Or take a stroll through PATH, the world's largest underground shopping complex, featuring 16 miles of shopping arcades. And art lovers shouldn't miss the opportunity to be among the first to visit the newly renovated Art Gallery of Ontario.
To register for APA's Annual Convention, visit APA's convention Web site. For more convention highlights, see the May, June and July/August Monitor on Psychology. To learn more about Toronto, visit Toronto Tourism.