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by Abby Arcuri

Two women stand in front of a research posted mounted on a partition.
CHER Members Taylor Baldwin and Lisa Maria Cross presenting their research at the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo

This November, CHER team members attended the 2023 American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Annual Meeting and Expo.

One attendee was Taylor Baldwin, an Evaluation Research Assistant at CHER. This marked her first time at a conference.

She shared her experience and some advice for other first-timers.

Prepare More, Worry Less

Leading up to the conference, Baldwin was expecting to be overwhelmed. With the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo being such a big conference, there was added pressure.

However, after participating in the event, Baldwin realized it was not as scary as expected. Especially with the help of her supervisor, it was easier to adjust.

After the conference, Baldwin reflected that if she could change anything, she would have gone to the conference less worried.

Three Pieces of Advice

Baldwin shared three pieces of advice she would give others attending a conference for the first time.

  1. No Judges
    First, Baldwin reminds first-timers that other attendees are not there to judge. Everyone is there to learn, not to critique your work. She says if you know your research and have a great elevator pitch, then you are all set for success.
  2. Go to Everything
    Second, Baldwin stressed to make the most of the experience. Go to all of the events, presentations and activities. Baldwin attended presentation sessions on human rights and women’s rights, which she loved. So, make sure to take advantage of everything they offer.
  3. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
    Third, make sure to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Baldwin says to talk to people, both formally and informally. This will help to network and socialize with other attendees. Everyone is there for the same reasons, so form connections and make new friends.

For Next Time (Some Final Thoughts)

Baldwin expressed she was grateful for the opportunity to go to the conference. Being a virtual worker, the APHA Meeting and Expo was her first in-person immersion into public health. This made the conference a great place to meet her coworkers and other public health workers.

She also wishes she had explored the host city, Atlanta, Georgia, more. At her next conference, she says she will make sure to explore outside the conference doors.

For any other first-time conference goers out there, Baldwin suggests to “attend it like it is your last conference.”

Take the opportunities, meet new people and have fun!