My First Time Presenting at a Conference
By Douglas Mays
Ed.D. in Counseling Psychology, 2014 Graduate
Argosy University, Online Programs
In January of 2014, I was contacted and told I had been nominated to present at the 2014 Spring Argosy University, Online Programs Virtual Conference. My first reaction was one of flattery, which was quickly followed by that old familiar anxiety. I remember attending Residency I with fellow doctorate student Jim Seward and interacting with students in Residency II. They seemed so far ahead of us. Some could talk about their dissertation in great detail. Most espoused their relief at having successfully completed their comprehensive examination. Jim and I looked at one another and voiced in unison that we obviously were not worthy.
To present or not to present?
During one particular workshop, we were introduced to the concept of imposter anxiety, which resonated considerably with both of us. Surely it would soon be revealed that we were sorely lacking in the ability, knowledge, and intellect to complete this program.
As I briefly contemplated whether or not to accept this nomination, I was reminded of something the College of Behavioral Sciences Assistant Dean, Dr. Teresa Collin-Jones, explained during Residency regarding dissertations. She reminded all of us that once we completed our study, our committee would be our advocates and we would be the expert in our particular areas of study. I took a deep breath and agreed to present at the virtual conference.
Thankfully, I had an opportunity to gain some exposure to the conference platform before the virtual conference, and Dr. Aragon and others were incredibly helpful. On the day of the conference, I listened with patience and apprehension for my turn to present. As the various presenters preceded me, I realized I was in the company of some talented colleagues. I also realized I had something of benefit to contribute.
An opportunity to share knowledge with others
When I was introduced, I realized this was an opportunity to share with others the story not only of my research, but also of what I believed to be an important piece of the larger body of research with respect to by topic. It is always hard to self-assess your own presentation. In the end, I felt it was of interest to the attendees. I hope it precipitated some thought regarding my topic related to empathy amongst the several hundred attendees. For myself, it was a very new and valuable professional experience. It seemed a bit of a rite of passage between being a student and becoming a doctor.
Argosy provides so many opportunities. This possibility of presenting research to colleagues was among the experiences I value most. For those out there who are extended such an opportunity, I encourage you to take it. It will help you further distill your own understanding of your area of expertise. For those attending virtual conferences, the experience will provide insights which may have not been as easily obtained. In the end, the purpose of research is to add to the existing body of knowledge. When called upon, presenting research is as much of a responsibility as it is an honor. I hope that those who have this opportunity will embrace it. It was, for me, one of the most fulfilling moments of my professional life to date.
Presenting at the 2014 Spring Psychology Virtual Conference cemented my goal of developing an article of my research for submission to a professional journal. It seems the natural next step with respect to sharing my research with the broader professional community.
I suspect without my experience during the conference, my enthusiasm likely would have remained somewhat diminished. I suspect other doctoral students will find the support and encouragement of their dissertation committees and will also seed such a goal in their minds. If you are given the opportunity to present, I believe your zeal for pursuing publication will likely increase. And so, I again encourage those offered to seize the opportunity.