It’s that time of year again. That time when SLPs all over the country are preparing for the annual trek to the ASHA convention. This year the convention will be held in Los Angeles, California.
Whether you are a first-timer or a veteran at the ASHA convention, preparation is key for a successful time in LA! Be prepared, either way, for thousands of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists to converge in an area and absolutely take over!
I won’t lie, the build-up from ASHA is enormous, but the let-down when it’s over is almost the same. The jam-packed exhibit hall, spending time with people you see once a year and the rush to get to your next session becomes a part of your day.
Planner: The planner is your guide to your daily Continuing Education Units (CEUs). You will receive a book when you pick up your registration materials when you arrive at the convention center. (I would suggest that if you arrive in LA on Wednesday, go ahead and make the journey to the convention center to pick up your materials early. The line on Thursday morning will be almost as bad as the lines at any local Starbucks).
This year, ASHA has released a new and improved app to allow you to plan sessions and to find exhibits. You can find the app for Apple or Android. This is a much improved app over previous years and best yet, it’s free!
Make sure to pick more than one course for each time. You never know when you may change your mind or a session may be packed.
What to pack: When I pack my clothes, comfort is key. I go for a business casual look. I will not be sporting formal attire nor will a high-heeled shoe be put in my suitcase. You can dress nicely and be comfy at the same time.
There will be schools and businesses looking to hire at the convention. If you are looking to interview during the convention, make sure to have access to hand out your resume and dress the part. You can always change clothes after!
I also pack the bare essentials. If it’s not a beauty routine I would utilize at home, I’m not going to use it at the convention. Some important things in my suitcase will be: iPad and charger, power strip (you may have quite a few electronics to pack), back up charger to get me through the day with my electronics, flash drives with my important information that I may want to hand out during the convention, such as a resume or business proposal, clothes, shoes and toiletries. I also always have a water bottle that I can carry with me as there are usually free water coolers where you can fill your bottle.
You may want to leave a little extra room in your suitcase because the exhibit hall is huge and packed with goodies! (See below)
Exhibit Hall: To say the exhibit hall is overwhelming may be an understatement. In the exhibit hall, you will find companies selling products and books, companies giving samples of their product, companies looking to hire new SLPs, app companies, continuing education companies and schools looking to enroll new SLP students. Make your wish list and map out the exhibit hall. You could literally spend an entire day just in the exhibit hall. Companies will be offering discounts on products which makes it even better!! This is also the time to look at those products you’re a little iffy about purchasing or to trial products. Time in the exhibit hall can be quite valuable.
Time: If you are active on social media, you may have made many new friends that you haven’t yet met in person or that you have met and only see at the convention. There is so many opportunities to meet people that you talk to on a regular basis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. It’s always a great time meeting new people and reconnecting with people that you only see at the convention. Some of my best SLP friendships were started on Facebook or Twitter.
Posters: Don’t forget to check out poster sessions. You can go to 6 posters at any given hour and a half time slot that can be counted for CEU credit. Poster sessions give you a chance to take a look at new research and you can even chat with the authors during their scheduled time slots!
If you attend the ASHA convention, or want to follow along from home, follow #ASHA17 on Twitter for live tweets from sessions and great pictures!