I was extremely fortunate to be able to attend the Centennial Celebration of the Rocky Mountain Section of the Mathematical Association for America back in April 2017 (that’s quite a mouthful, I know). This was an extremely exciting event for me as this was my first ever math conference. During this experience I was able to finally connect with professional mathematicians (who weren’t my teachers at school). Besides learning a lot about math, I did learn a lot about what to do as an undergraduate attending conferences. Below I have listed some of my biggest takeaways from the RMS MAA meeting that I wish I knew about going into the weekend.
Ask ALL the Questions!!!
There were many times where I felt like I was being annoying to the presenters or that I was coming off as stupid to the other mathematicians in the room, but boy was I wrong! From my experience, asking what seemed like too many questions just showed other people at the conference that I was eager to learn more. In fact, because I was so vocal I ended up having the presenters come up to me after the talk to network with me. I was handed business cards with contact information in case I wanted to learn more or if I wanted to contribute to conferences in the future. This was awesome! Moral of the story, there are no dumb questions. Just work up the courage to ask!
Go to Sessions That Interest You (Even if You Aren’t Sure if You’ll Fully Understand)
There were so many talks I ended up attending during these two days!!! And you know what? There were a good chunk that I was probably too young to attend. I’m beginning to realize that the more you know about math (i.e. the older you are), the more comfortable and knowledgeable you’ll be when attending conferences. Even still, some of the most seasoned mathematicians attend talks they know little about. Why? Delving into a topic is the best way to learn. It’s like listening to a band you’ve never heard of. How will you know you like the music if you’ve never listened to it? Similarly, how will you know a field of mathematics is for you until you hear about it? Let your curiosity go wild when you attend math conferences! Anything abstracts that catch your eye, be sure to attend the talk.
Network, Network, Network
Not wanting to be the odd woman out, I decided to jump into places where I normally wouldn’t feel comfortable. The place where this ended up being most beneficially for me was at the banquet at the end of the first day. I noticed that throughout all of the talks during the day that I was the only person from CSU- Fort Collins at the event, so when I saw a group from my school sitting together at dinner I joined them. Looking at all of the name tags, I tried to think of ways that I knew the people around me. I ended up bumping into the coordinator of my Calc 3 class who then invited me to sit with CSU faculty. Because I asserted my way into the CSU Faculty table, I was able to make connections at my university that have changed my college career. The conversations I had during that banquet have afforded me the opportunity to receive travel funding from my department as well as support from the higher ups. A brief moment of awkwardness was well-worth the reward of being known.
- Mathematical Celebrity Look-Alikes
- A Paradox of Finite Cardinality
- Nine-Point Circle
- Math in Hollywood Movies
- Learning Mathematics through Historical Projects
- Generated Sequences and Pisot Numbers
- Making & Moving in Order to Perceive, Imagine, and Mathematize
- A Look at the RMS-MAA
- Vignettes from the History of RMS
- They Symmetric Group and Fair Division:Does Knowledge Matter?
- A Tribute to MAA-RMS in its First 100 Years
- Mean Value Theorem: History and a Primary Source Project for a Real Analysis Course
Have questions about what it’s like to attend a math conference as an undergraduate student? Leave a comment or contact me on social media!
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