I don't know about you, but I'm eagerly anticipating the 2016 ASHA Convention this week! Last year's convention was my first, and while it was a hectic trip, it was a great time. I want to share with you some of my best tips for surviving - and thriving - at the ASHA Convention!
My number 1 tip? Wear comfortable shoes. Seriously, you will be walking MILES between your hotel, sessions, exhibit hall, and restaurants. I literally walked a hole in my tennis shoes last year in Denver! Make sure to have a back up pair, just in case.
As far as clothing, for the average convention attendee, business casual is fine. Dressy jeans or nice pants and a top are perfectly appropriate. If you plan on interviewing or are presenting, definitely dress up, but otherwise, whatever you are comfortable in and would normally wear to work is perfectly appropriate.
I would definitely recommend a light jacket or sweater, because many of the rooms can be quite chilly.
HOW DO I DECIDE WHAT SESSIONS TO GO TO?
I like to browse the Program Planner (sent to many attendees via mail in advance) to look at each time slot I have available and what topics I am interested in. I usually have 2-3 that sound appealing to me based on my current caseload, and I will highlight those. I also look for some of my favorite speakers in the field. I try to narrow it down from there, keeping in mind that some popular sessions might fill up and I'll need a second choice option.
I hope if you will be at ASHA on Saturday that you consider the presentation I am giving with my friends Hallie Sherman from Speech Time Fun and Felice Clark from The Dabbling Speechie. It's called Use What You Have: Practical Uses for Common Objects to Target All Areas of Communication. We're so excited to share some practical therapy ideas you will be able to use on Monday morning when you get back from ASHA!
PS: We have goodie bags for the first 100 people that show up to our session, so you won't want to be late!
WHAT TO BRING TO SESSIONS:
Be aware that you likely will not have reliable wi-fi service during the sessions. I like to download session handouts in the morning to my iPad, using the Notability app. I also carry an old fashioned notebook in my tote bag, as well as a water bottle and snacks.
In most sessions, the chairs will be close together, and there won't be much room for a laptop. If you prefer to take notes electronically, I would suggest an iPad and keyboard instead.
Make sure to allow for plenty of time at the Exhibit Hall! In fact, I usually like to stop in for a bit each day, because it's just so huge and overwhelming. Make sure to stop by the SLP Blogger Booth #514, where you can find me and 13 of my blogging buddies! Here is when you can see me:
AFTER HOURS FUN:
My blogger besties and I are hosting a fabulous evening on Thursday at the Marriott Hotel - we have tons of great giveaways, so make sure to get there early! Find out more details and RSVP in the Facebook event page.
Don't forget to pack a portable battery charger! You will run through your phone battery very quickly.
Also, if you're like me and completely directionally challenged, download the Citymapper app. They have a version for Philadelphia that seems very helpful.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Be prepared for long waits for food. Scope out area restaurants in advance, and carry snacks with you.
There was a coat/bag check last year in Denver, which was handy, but they only took cash. Make sure to have enough on hand if you plan on using the service!
Be friendly! There are many SLPs you will see at ASHA that are by themselves or may not know anyone in line or at your session. Take advantage of this to make new connections and friends!
Tell me, is there anything I forgot to include? Make sure to say hi if you see me (and feel free help me with directions if I'm totally lost!)!