Should you go to that Conference? Read these 7 Tips to Find Out

Tiago André Lopes

A lot of us feel that Summer time is too short for all the things we want to do: beach, parties, conferences, readings, summits, sports… And even when we focus on just one thing, let us say Conferences, there is never enough time to do everything. If we cannot do everything, we should do the best of the things we want to do. Here are some tips to help on selecting youth summits and/or conferences for 2014.

1.) The newer, the more socially intense

Whenever you look a call for a youth-like event, see the number of the edition of the event. Usually events under less than five editions tend to be humanly more intense. Organizers are still trying to define the “focus” of the event, and so they tend to focus on the human-social dimension. Participants tend to mingle much more and divisions between “sections” are less divisive.

2.) Don’t like surprises? Go for official…

I can tell by experience that official events tend be less prone to surprises. Let me be clear, official events are those fully supported by a state or by state-related agencies. In these events the programs are carefully designed, not only because they use public money but also because (most of the times!) there is a PR intention behind it. If you want a program less subject to surprises, to last-minute alterations and to risks you should look for these sort of events.

3.) Careful with the speakers program

It is normal that you have curiosity over “who am I going to listen”. It is even more normal that you might feel dazzled if any event promises to you UN top-officials, IMF Experts and Google or Apple Board-Members. It is normal and highly dangerous. Youth-like events with high speakers tend to be prone to frustration, because high-level speakers have highly unstable agendas and, let us face it, youth events are the easiest ones to cancel! Don’t just decide you want to attend a conference because some big shot is speaking.

4.) Think like a Bullet

A bullet can only hit one target, so a youth-like event should also be focused on one specific thematic. Avoid youth seminars or conferences with general titles and cliché key-words like “youth”, “unity”, “perfect peace” and “open diversity”. When choosing the event that will consume your savings and your summer time, apply the bullet methodology: the more focused the event, the better it will be for your career.

5.) Pay attention to the Cultural/Social programs

Do not assume that events without a cultural/social program clearly defined will have any “mingling moments”. Sometimes the organizers want you to focus solely on the program. In order to avoid frustration you can: 1.) send them an email before applying; 2.) look for other youth events with cultural/social programs clearly included in the program.

6.) What about utility?

Youth-like events can be an interesting addition to your resume, when carefully chosen. Youth events will give an international dimension to your academic resume and will also allow you to build or expand your network. But you should be careful when introducing a youth event in your resume. If you have more interest in “Security” it makes sense to have some youth seminars promoted by NATO (like DAYS or PAYS), but it makes less sense to have something like a youth-seminar for new reporters by the Council of Europe.

7.) Be realistic and think on medium-turn

You live in Scotland and you want to go to an event in the Maldives, without any support, knowing that it will prevent from travelling in the next three years? I would advise you to abdicate of the Maldives, to choose something close: Tunisia? Czech Republic? Portugal? It will allow you to attend a youth event, without consuming all your resources, allowing you to plan the summer 2015 without constraints.