From the 2001 Annual Meeting column in the December 2000 Perspectives
Graduate Students at the Annual Meeting
Miriam Hauss, December 2000
Graduate students attending their first annual meeting may find it a little more overwhelming than they might have suspected. Usually there are more than 4,000 people in attendance and the affair often seems one part carnival, one part high school reunion, and one part professional meeting. A few simple preparations—including warm clothing this time—can help ensure a successful trip to this colonial city.
The Boston annual meeting is easily accessible by air or rail. Those needing to make flight reservations can take advantage of special discounts offered through Association Travel Concepts (ATC). ATC can be reached at (800) 458-9383 or through a link to its web site from the AHA home page at http://www.historians.org. Airline prices may vary considerably depending on which airline you use but you will always fly into Boston Logan International (http://www.massport.com). Those arriving by train (either Amtrak or commuter) can arrive at two stations—South Station at Atlantic Avenue and Summer Street or Back Bay at 145 Dartmouth Street. Amtrak trains run from the south stop at Back Bay Station (Orange Line) and South Station (Red Line). Both are located in the South Station Transportation Center, which is less than a mile from the hotels. Cabs, which are the easiest way to get to the hotels, are readily available and are metered. There is also a bus running from Logan International to South Station, which is $6.00/person one way. Buses run every 30 to 60 minutes. (See pages 8–10 of the Program or http://www.historians.org/annual for detailed information and maps.) More information concerning local travel arrangements can be found at http://www.mbta.com for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority or http://www.amtrak.com for Amtrak information.
Accommodations are, of course, a primary concern. As always, the AHA's convention director has secured several blocks of very reasonably priced rooms at five hotels; singles are available for $79 at the Omni Parker House and for $99 at the others. For those who can share a room, rates for double, triple, and quad rooms range between $99 and $150. The Sheraton Boston Hotel and the Boston Marriott Copley Avenue are the co-headquarter hotels. These hotel rooms go the fastest. So make your reservations today without waiting for the December 19 deadline!
If you are planning to meet with friends or colleagues at the annual meeting, every effort should be made to arrange a precise time and place beforehand. The electronic messaging system introduced this year will assist in locating friends and arranging meetings (see box on page 59 for details). Terminals will be available in both the Sheraton and Marriott.
The Book Exhibition (in the Marriott's University of Massachusetts Exhibit Hall) is a popular and convenient meeting place that allows for a diversion in case the person you are meeting is late. After the meeting day is over, many will want to explore the numerous restaurants, museums, and shops in the back bay of Boston. A list of inexpensive restaurants in the Back Bay area has also been provided on this web site. Most of the information was gathered from Cuisine Net and Zagat's Restaurant guide, available at http://www.cuisinenet.com or http://www.zagats.com.
Once settled, students will want to take every opportunity to become acquainted with the profession and the career opportunities the annual meeting offers. Among the meeting sessions of special interest to graduate students is "Interviewing in the Job Market in the New Millennium: A Workshop" (Friday, January 5, 9:30–11:30 a.m. in the Marriott, Grand Ballroom Salon G). This session provides practical tips for interviewees as well as practice sessions with experienced interviewers. Over the years it has been one of the AHA's most popular sessions among graduate students. Also on Friday, January 5, 2:30–4:30 p.m. in the Marriott's Harvard Room is an Open Forum on Graduate Education. Everyone is invited to come and discuss the issues concerning graduate education. In the same room as the Open Forum (the Harvard Room), beginning at 5:30 p.m. is the Graduate Student Open Forum hosted by the Taskforce on Graduate Education. Rounding out the selection will be a cash bar reception for students on Friday, January 5, 6:30–8:00 p.m. in the Marriott's Wellesley Room. Graduate students can meet, greet, and share war stories with fellow graduate students from other institutions at this reception. For full details, consult the annual meeting Program, page 19.
In addition to the sessions and receptions, graduate students should also note the numerous meetings of affiliated societies and other groups that focus on regional or thematic areas of interest. These meetings offer students the chance to make contacts with other specialists, both graduate and senior scholars, in their own field. Along with the presentation of scholarly work, these sessions often sponsor informative get-togethers, receptions, luncheons, and the like. (See pages 20–68 of the Program.)
Many graduate students who have attended the annual meeting before will be returning this year for the express purpose of interviewing. Those who have prearranged interviews should try to confirm the time and exact location beforehand. This year, interviewers and applicants will be able to communicate with each other in a more efficient manner than previously, using the new messaging system (please see the box below.) Some schools like to avoid the hustle and bustle of the Job Register (Sheraton, Grand Ballroom) and secure their own facilities. It used to be that the AHA staff could only assist with those interviews arranged through the Job Register; that policy was changed last year and staff may be able to assist you if the interviewing institution has provided the necessary information to the Job Register staff. Those who will have interviews conducted through the Job Register should check in early and take note of the location scheduled for the interview. To minimize problems and expenses, be sure to bring plenty of extra copies of your c.v. and any other information you plan to share with prospective employers, or risk paying hotel business office prices for reproduction. (Many appreciate seeing syllabi of courses taught.) Please bring these supplemental materials to the interview.
Of course the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. If so, please feel free to stop by the AHA headquarters office (Marriott, Yarmouth Room). Staff there may be able to help you or to direct you to the appropriate party.
—Miriam Hauss is the executive assistant and special projects coordinator at the AHA; she was a graduate student until recently, and thus understands graduate students' predicaments.