Diary of a Newbie: What I learned from the ISMRM Newbie Reception

BY ATEF BADJI

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Aloha! Bonjour! My name is Atef Badji, I am a graduate student in the NeuroPoly lab, at the University of Montreal. Last year I had the chance to attend my first ISMRM meeting in Honolulu, and my first Newbie Reception at the beautiful Hilton Hawaiian Village. As I think back on it, I couldn’t imagine a better way to start my intensive week of science and education.

Everybody knows that good career choices are extremely important from the beginning. What they don’t know is how fun those choices can be with the great ISMRM folks.  Below is the list of 10 things future ISMRM newbies need to know when packing up for their very first ISMRM conference.

Lesson #1: Choose Mentors

A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser that will help you achieve your goals in the same way a jedi would help his padawan. However, most students aren’t selective about mentors and just feel fortunate to have them in the first place. I believe you need to choose the right mentor, who wants to teach you as much as you want to learn from them.

Lesson #2: Do your research  

It is important to be prepared. Look up the people who will be presenting during the conference. It is an amazing chance to meet your mentors for the week ahead as well as senior members from your field. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity !

Lesson #3: Start networking

For some people, this is a hard thing to do, I know. It is always difficult to walk up to a total stranger and start a conversation. The newbie réception is the perfect place to start networking. You will soon realise that students, post-docs and professors are often very happy to have somebody else to talk to.

Newbie Reception, Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Lesson #4:  Embrace new experiences

Think of your first ISMRM as a series of experiences, rather than just a conference where you get to present your work and include the abstract on your resume. Try new things, learn new stuff and meet new people.

Lesson #5: Use social media 

ISMRM has a dedicated hashtag for the annual meeting. As a newbie, the benefits of using Twitter can be tremendous. You can engage in virtual conversation with other attendees and break the ice with them even if they are famous professors. You can share your achievements, your colleague’s latest result and discover the cutting-edge work of the seniors in your field. ISMRM also uses Slack. It is another way to discuss what is currently happening at the meeting. Attendees can also use Slack to ask questions regarding a presentation in specific channels for each session.

Lesson #6: Don’t be afraid to ask questions

In science, you need to be a lifelong learner if you want to make an impact. Never be afraid to ask a question no matter how stupid it sounds.

Lesson #7: Think about the future

You get to meet other newbies. Go to each other’s talks and posters, support each other. These newbies might be your future colleagues, friends and family. 

Lesson #8: Volunteer

Well known scientists, including Karla Miller, Derek Jones and Mark Griswold kept repeating one thing to ISMRM trainees: Be there, volunteer, do your best and one day someone will open a door for you. This might change your career. Don’t miss that chance! Start now! You never know.

Lesson #9: Be Proud to become part of the ISMRM family

As a member of ISMRM, you become part of a large community of clinicians, physicists, engineers, biochemists and other professionals united by a common love of MRI, helping each other to be the best version of themselves.

Lesson #10: Have fun

When you have the chance to go to ISMRM, most of the time you get to discover a new city and a new country. The next ISMRM meeting will held in Paris, city of light and love. Don’t forget to go to Café de Flore where Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre used to hang out.  Take a picture on top of the hidden Buren’s columns, and do all the traditional things: stroll on the docks of the Seine, under the Eiffel tower, and savor a macaron caramel prepared with salted butter from La Durée.

Bonne chance et amusez vous bien 🙂