This weekend, I had the distinct honor of attending and presenting at the Eastern Communication Association Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. I have never been around so many Communication professionals before, and especially people who I consider celebrities. The conference provided me with a great opportunity to network with these people and to learn more about the field.
On my first day at the conference, I was casually introduced to Dr. Virginia Richmond, one of the most published and prestigious researchers in the Communication field. It was very hard to contain myself as I carried on a conversation with Dr. Richmond, someone who almost every single one of my professors in the Communication department has mentioned in class.
Later that day, we attended a “no-host” event, a welcome reception, where all of the conference attendees mingled and networked. At this event, I met not only Communication professors from all over the country (including a number of West Virginia University graduates and faculty), but also a handful of Canisius alumni who have been very successful in the field. This handful included Dr. Kristen Cambpell-Eichhorn, the lead author of Dr. Wanzer’s Interpersonal Communication textbook and someone who I have cited in papers multiple times. This was a crazy experience for me. I carried on a conversation with Dr. Campbell-Eichhorn for quite some time, discussing our experiences at Canisius, her experiences at WVU and the University of Miami and her career, before I was introduced to the third author of the textbook, Dr. Candice Thomas-Maddox, who we had dinner with later that evening.
Another one of our dinner companions that evening was Dr. Marian Houser of Texas State University. I loved talking to Dr. Houser because she was the first professional at the conference with whom I shared my current research subject: gender differences in platonic relationship maintenance. She immediately took to the topic and offered me suggestions for further research and how to go about conducting the study. This included an interesting suggestion on looking into how jealousy serves as a relationship maintenance tactic for females. It was a great feeling to share my research subject with someone outside of the Canisius College Communication Studies department and to have that person respond so positively.
Another opportunity to network presented itself at the Undergraduate Poster Session at which I presented Friday morning. All I can say about this experience is “wow.” Presenting my poster, Sluts and Studs: The Media’s Double Standard Agenda, for a group of Communication professionals was so much different than presenting it at Ignatian Scholarship Day at Canisius. Every judge, undergraduate and professor who stopped at my poster carried on a lively discussion with me on my research, the results and its implications. Dr. Atsushi Tajima from SUNY Geneseo, who focuses on media in his research, had a lot to discuss with me on the topic, and after a long discussion on Gender Communication research, he gave me his card so that we could further discuss John Gottman’s research on gendered body displayed.
I was so pleased with the opportunity to attend ECA. I had so many chances to talk with great professionals in the Communication Studies field who were able not only to share their experiences with me, but also to offer me advice on both my future and my research. Who knew a networking experience could be so much fun?!