Graduate Students: Why You Should Attend!

Chris Hale, December 2005

So. It's December and amid the stress of finals, the holidays, and those relentless recurring nightmares
—you know the ones in which you discover at the end of the semester that you've somehow not attended a class—you get the AHA's annual propaganda telling you in its monochromatic style that it's time once again for the annual meeting. And that you should attend. But you're a graduate student and with everything going on in your life, you ask yourself, “why should I go there?!”

The life of a history graduate student can often times be an alienated and socially fragmented one. So for those graduate students who may feel disconnected from the historical profession at large, the annual meeting is a great place to get acquainted or reacquainted with the goings-on of the historical profession. The Exhibit Hall is probably the best place to get started. Located this year in the Philadelphia Marriott's Franklin Hall, the Exhibit Hall is a bustling academic marketplace where colleagues can meet and greet, exchange ideas, and check out the latest titles from the top university presses. And for those looking for a publisher for their dissertation, the Exhibit Hall is a must.

Furthermore, the annual meeting hosts numerous sessions and receptions where graduate students can socialize, and discuss historiography, research, writing, life, the universe, and everything. This year, the AHA's Committee for Graduate Students (CGS) will host an open forum and reception for grad students. The Open Forum will take place on Friday, January 6, 2006 from 5:30–6:30 p.m. in the Marriott's Grand Ballroom, Salon K. The cash-bar reception will take place immediately afterward from 6:30–8:00 p.m. in Salon J.

This year, the AHA's Program Committee has put together two very important sessions of interest to graduate students: the first, Careers in History: A Workshop for Aspiring Historians, will take place on Friday, January 6, 2006, from 12:30–2:00 p.m., will appeal to not only beginning graduate students, but also undergraduates interested in pursuing a career in history. The other session, Interviewing for the Twenty-First Century, will take place on Friday, January 6, 2006, from 9:30– 11:30 a.m., and is a must for job seekers.

Speaking of job seekers, the annual meeting also has the Job Register. While it can be at times a stressful and chaotic experience, the Job Register—located this year in the Marriott's Grand Ballroom, Salon H—is an excellent venue for those hoping to find a job—both academic, and public—within the profession. Last year, the Job Register hosted over five hundred applicants competing for over one hundred and fifty history-related jobs. That number promises to be even greater for the 2006 meeting, so job seekers should definitely consider attending the meeting just for the Job Register alone. Prospective Job Register participants can find more information on the AHA's web site at www.historians.org/annual.

One of the most anticipated events for the 2006 annual meeting is the presentation of the AHA's Third Annual Theodore Roosevelt-Woodrow Wilson Award. First awarded in 2004, the Roosevelt-Wilson Award is presented to individuals who has made significant contributions to the public advancement of history. This year's recipient is film director Steven Spielberg, who is being honored for his work as the founding chairman of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. The award will be presented to Spielberg on Thursday, January 5, 2006, at 7:30 p.m. in the Millennium Hall of the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. Seeing Spielberg join such honorable recipients as Brian Lamb, CEO and founder of C-SPAN, and Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), is a definite reason to go to the 120th annual meeting.

Graduate students who are interested in attending the annual meeting for the first time, should check out the Orientation to the Annual Meeting, on Thursday, January 5, from 3:00–5:00 p.m. This session, located in the Marriott's Grand Ballroom, Salon J will cover such topics as “How to Navigate the Job Register,” and “The Social Side of the Annual Meeting.” And finally, there is the matter of cost. To help ease the financially strapped graduate students,the AHA offers a discounted registration rate to graduate students: Preregistration rates are $45 for members and $55 for nonmembers, while registration rates at the annual meeting are $50 and $60. Preregistration continues through Wednesday, January 4, 2006, so take advantage of the preregistration rates.

The AHA has also negotiated some discounted travel rates with Association Travel Concepts (ATC), the official travel agency of the 120th Annual Meeting. ATC offers some excellent discounts on airfare, Amtrak, and car rentals to and from Philadelphia; for more information, visit www.historians.org/annual.

So the 120th annual meeting in Philadelphia does have some value for graduate students. While it won't put an end to those recurring nightmares, it will help to alleviate the stress of graduate life.

—Chris Hale received his master's degree from George Mason University and is the Production Manager for AHA ‘s publications department.