From the 128th Annual Meeting column of the November 2013 issue of Perspectives on History
Six Questions about the AHA Annual Meeting
Julie-Irene Nkodo, November 2013
With the annual meeting a few short months away, we want to provide answers to some of the most commonly asked questions, for both new and experienced attendees. We hope you'll find some useful tips to make your experience in Washington, DC, more productive and enjoyable.
1. When will I receive my program? How can I find out about last-minute changes?
AHA members can expect to receive the program in the mail in November. Make sure to bring your program with you-they will not be given away at the event. Programs handed out at the meeting will only be given to non-members who preregistered and those who register on-site. The best way to find out about last-minute changes to the program is the AHA Annual Meeting app, available for mobile devices and desktops; all changes made to the program will be updated on the app. The 2014 AHA meeting app will be available for download in mid-December. An online version of the program is available on the 2014 annual meeting website, which can be found at historians.org.
2. How can we find free Wi-Fi in DC?
Your current service provider can supply you with a list of Wi-Fi hotspots in the area but you can also make use of the Washington, DC, government's Wi-Fi map at geospatial.dcgis.dc.gov/agencyapps/wifi.aspx.
3. I'm just coming for a job interview. Is attending a session an integral part of the annual meeting?
Absolutely. Attending sessions is not only an integral part of the annual meeting but is also an extremely gratifying and inspiring experience. The theme for this year's annual meeting is "Disagreement, Debate, Discussion." Historians and scholars from related disciplines will be coming together to have rich and enlightening discussions surrounding this theme and its significance in the field of history. Sessions are about much more than sharing research: hundreds of sessions on various topics ranging from professional development to public history to recent events will be offered. But there are more benefits to attending sessions than just acquiring new knowledge.
The meeting is not only an opportunity to network in the field in which you're looking to be employed, but also to learn from our peers and expand on our own knowledge. Asking or talking about what sessions you've attended is an easy ice-breaker in any situation. Moreover, it is likely that this will come up in a formal or informal job interview, and you'll want to have something to discuss. Not only do sessions serve as a topic of conversation, but you may also want to attend a session where the host institution has faculty or students speaking in order to be more knowledgeable about that place and its culture. It is in your best interest to take advantage of this opportunity. Who knows, maybe in future meetings you will be on a panel presenting a session of your own!
4. I'm on a budget. How can I find inexpensive or complementary food and coffee?
As an avid food lover, I find this question to be extremely relevant. A list of receptions, many of them open and complementary, taking place during the annual meeting will be available on the AHA meeting app. Feel free to attend receptions and take advantage of the sustenance, but also to make use of great networking opportunities these events provide. If you're looking to dine out, the free app, Scoutmob, available on most mobile devices, automatically locates discounts and deals at restaurants near you. There will also be information on local restaurants in the program supplement, which will be available at the meeting, and the AHA meeting app.
5. I'm staying a few extra days to see the city. What's going on in DC in early January?
Washington, DC, is an amazing city with many things to do, even in January. There are several online resources that are particularly useful for finding events, tours, and activities in the DC metro area. The DC Spotlight newspaper's online calendar of events publishes a list called "50 Fun Things to Do in DC" every month. Check DC Spotlight in mid-December for their January calendar of events. The Washington Post also has a "Going Out Guide" on its website with a section for visitors that offers resources such as maps of the National Mall, day-by-day guides of museum hours, and gallery open houses, as well as details about attractions that require advance planning (who knew visitors could attend the weekly oral arguments of the Supreme Court?). Finally, KidFriendlyDC is a comprehensive guide for parents bringing their children to the meeting.
6. How can I connect with other attendees before and during the meeting?
The AHA recently launched AHA Communities, our new platform for online communication and collaboration among historians. AHA Communities serves as a space for the history community to connect, share ideas, discuss professional and theoretical issues, and network. By logging onto communities.historians.org, attendees can join the "Annual Meeting" forum to start or join discussions before the annual meeting. In addition to the various receptions and luncheons, the AHA is sponsoring several exciting tours throughout the week, including but not limited to the Library of Congress, the National Zoo, the US Capitol, and the Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art. Tours offer attendees the opportunity to network with one another in an informal setting.
For more information, visit the 128th annual meeting webpage. Details about the Job Center and Career Fair as well as accommodations, transportation, childcare resources, and disability services are available here. Watch AHA Today and Perspectives on History for more up to the minute information on the 2014 annual meeting.
—Julie-Irene Nkodo is the AHA's special project assistant.