Publication Date

December 1, 1994

Graduate students attending their first annual meeting may find it to be 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 and one part professional meeting. A few simple preparations can help ensure a successful trip.

The convention is easily accessible by air or rail. Those needing to make flight reservations can take advantage of a 10 percent discount by calling Zenith Travel, Inc., at (800) 433-1790. Shuttle busses run from both O'Hare and Midway airports. Inexpensive cabs ($4–$5) are available for those arriving by rail at Union Station. (See pp. 9–10 of the Program for full information.)

After arriving, accommodations are, of course, a primary concern. The AHA has reserved blocks of sensibly priced rooms in the Palmer House Hilton. Singles are available for as low as $50 per night. Those able to come with a friend or friends and share a room can save even more: doubles are available for $79, triples for $89, and quads for $99. (See p. 8 of the Program.) If you are planning on seeing friends at the meeting, you should make every effort to agree on a time and location before setting out. The AHA Locator File is an unreliable resource, especially on the first day of the meeting, since it depends on meeting participants dropping off their information.

Once settled, students will want to take every opportunity to become acquainted with the profession and their opportunities in it. Among the meeting sessions of special interest to graduate students are a workshop entitled "Interviewing in the Job Market in the 1990s" (Friday, January 6, 9:30–11:30); "Working Outside the Tenure System: The Employment of Historians as Part-Time and Non-Tenure-Track Faculty" (Friday, January 6, 2:30–4:30); "The Future Professoriate: Preparing Graduate Students for the Classroom" (Saturday, January 7, 9:30–11:30); and "Pursuing the Ph.D. in the Age of Limits—Is There a Better Way?" (Saturday, January 7, 2:30–4:30). The Committee on Women Historians will sponsor a session entitled "Recent Graduate Research on 'Third World' Women's History" (Friday, January 6, 2:30–4:30).

Graduate students will also have a number of opportunities to "network" with fellow graduate students and more senior scholars in their field. There will be a lounge for graduate students in Conference Room 4K at the Hilton, where attendees can meet fellow graduate students from around the country. The Committee on Women in the Historical Profession/Conference Group on Women's History will sponsor a cocktail party starting at 5:30 on Friday; there will also be a cash-bar reception for graduate students starting at 6:30. (See p. 15 of the Program.) On Saturday evening, starting at 7:30, the Committee on Minority Historians will sponsor a cash-bar reception.

In addition to the sessions and receptions, graduate students should also note the numerous meetings of affiliated societies and other groups that focus on certain regional or thematic areas of interest. These meetings offer students the chance to make contacts with other specialists, both graduate students and senior scholars, in their own field. Along with the presentation of scholarly work, these sessions often sponsor informal get-togethers, receptions, luncheons, and the like. (See pp. 19–39 of the Program.)

Obviously many graduate students will be attending the meeting for job interviews. The best advice is to think ahead. Those who have prearranged interviews should confirm the time and exact location beforehand. Some schools like to avoid the hustle and bustle of the Job Register and secure their own facilities. If they do, the Job Register staff will not be able to help you find them. 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 c.v.'s and any other information you plan to share with prospective employers. Getting copies made at the meeting will be expensive and difficult. Notepads, pens, and staplers are also in short supply.

Of course, even the best laid plans sometimes go awry. If so, please feel free to stop by the AHA staff headquarters. They may be able to help, or to direct you to the appropriate party.

— is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland at College Park.

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