Publication Date

December 1, 1999

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 the windy city.

The Chicago annual meeting is easily accessible by air or rail. Those needing to make flight reservations can take advantage of special deals offered through Association Travel Concepts. Airline prices may vary considerably depending on which airport you use, Chicago O'Hare or Midway. Those arriving by train (either Amtrak or commuter), will arrive at Union Station, located downtown on South Canal Street. Cabs, which are the easiest way to get to the hotels, are available on the lower level of Union Station at Adams and Canal Streets. (See p. 25 of the October Perspectives or p. 3 of the Program for a detailed map.) More information concerning travel arrangements, as well as the entire contents of the annual meeting Program, is also available from the Association’s web site at, which includes a set of links to pages on traveling to and visiting in Chicago, America’s windiest city—especially in January.

After arriving, accommodations are, of course, a primary concern. As always, the AHA's convention director has secured several blocks of very reasonably priced rooms; singles are available for about $89. For those who can share a room, rates for double twin, triple, and quad rooms range between $89 and $159. The Chicago Sheraton is the headquarters hotel for the meeting.

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 Book Exhibit (Sheraton, River Exhibition Hall) is a popular and convenient location that allows for a di version in case the person you are meeting is late. The AHA also maintains a locator file, which is most useful on the first day, but which does depend on the other person filling out the appropriate forms. After the meeting day is over, many will want to explore the numerous restaurants, museums, and shops in downtown Chicago. The essays on pages 42-44 and 46-47 give you some suggestions about what you can do when you have some free time.

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" (Friday, January 7, 9:30-11:30 a.m. in the Sheraton, Sheraton Ballroom III). 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. There are also several other sessions focusing on teaching issues and the use of part-time faculty. Rounding out the selection will be a cash bar reception for students on Friday, January 7, 6:30-8:00 p .m., in the Sheraton, Missouri Room. For full details, consult the annual meeting Program, pages 18-19. Graduate students are, of course, well aware of how to follow the free food trail, and can meet, greet and share war stories with fellow graduate students from other institutions at this 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 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 21-59 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. Some schools like to avoid the hustle and bustle of the Job Register (Marriott, 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; this year, we have changed that policy and may be able to assist you if your interviewing institution has signed up with us. 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 (Sheraton, Executive Center Parlor A). Staff there may be able to help you or to direct you to the appropriate party.

Miriam Hauss is the new executive assistant and special projects coordinator at the AHA; she was a graduate student until recently, and thus understands graduate students' predicaments. Vernon Horn is the Internet projects coordinator at the AHA, and is a graduate student at the University of Maryland at College Park.

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