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Is Attending a CS Conference Worth the Time? 244

Posted by samzenpus
from the meet-and-greet dept.
An Anonymous Coward writes"Hello Slashdot readers, I am a CS student nearing graduation and i had a couple of questions. One of my professors is recommending submitting a paper to the CCSC (consortium of computing sciences in colleges) in Utah this year for a chance to have my work published in a journal. I realize the value in having thesis work published but i don't really have the money to travel to Utah and stay for two nights. So i guess i am wondering, has anyone ever attended a conference of this nature and if so was it worth the time and money?"
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Is Attending a CS Conference Worth the Time?

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  • Depends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday February 28, 2011 @04:24AM (#35336024) Homepage

    The main reason to attend these things is to meet people. This can either help you get a job or help find professors to partner with in the next stage of your education.

    If you have no interest in either, then the only reason to go is out of your own curiosity.

    • Re:Depends (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 28, 2011 @04:38AM (#35336076)

      What it should come down to is this...

      If you feel that after reviewing the schedule for the conference that it has topics that you would be interested in, you should seriously consider attending.

      At a minimum, you will be able to network with prospective employers, as well as those who are in your particular field to see whether you actually have any intrest in proceeding down your chosen career path.

      • Re:Depends (Score:5, Informative)

        by gnapster (1401889) on Monday February 28, 2011 @05:29AM (#35336286)

        If you feel that after reviewing the schedule for the conference that it has topics that you would be interested in, you should seriously consider attending.

        Not to nitpick, but if this student is deciding whether to submit a paper, he won't have a real schedule, yet. He'll only have the call for papers, which is what he is using to determine if his own paper is suitable for the conference. No information on actual talks. Looking at information (titles and maybe abstracts) from previous conferences could be more telling. Here is a list of published journal editions [ccsc.org] of the CCSC. (I gather that the articles in these journals are selected from papers presented at conferences of CCSC.) They might give a good idea of what goes on.

        Personally, I think that conferences are a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend going. Absolutely do try to get something accepted, and if it is, your department might be willing to pay some of your expenses. (But only if you are presenting, generally.)

    • Re:Depends (Score:5, Informative)

      by mad_clown (207335) on Monday February 28, 2011 @04:44AM (#35336104)

      I'm not in CS, but I agree with MrEricSir. Not only is presenting at a conference a big confidence booster, but it can also open up a lot of doors for you if you impress the right folks with your presentation. I watched a colleague present a paper at a conference last year only to seem him be approached afterwards by no less than three different people giving him contact information for potential job opportunities in the non-profit international law sector.

      Again, that's a pretty long way from CS, but it's probably more common than you think.

      Find the money and go to Utah. Maybe try to find a pertinent mailing list and see if there are other people who're in a similar boat who'd like to split the cost of a room with you. Depending on how big the conference is, it might be fairly easy to find someone.

      • by bbasgen (165297)
        Parent and gp provide good advice. One more thing: while impressing people has benefits, the main focus of any presentation should be to convey valuable information and engage your audience at a high level.
      • Totally agree with MrEricSir and mad_clown. As a student, you'll probably get more bang for your (very precious) buck than the working folk at the conference. You'll definitely want to network with the working folk, but be sure to take some time to meet the other students as well. Years down the line, they're the ones you'll be calling.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      exactly. also goes for "professional" meetups(mwc and such too), all the daytime programs are usually either crap, advertisements or just plain well wishing lies. presentations tend to be like that. if it's some annual thing, check if the presentations from 4 years back were all lies in retrospect.

      if someone else is paying, go :). if not, don't. try to arrange some evening happenings while there. you can see that your budget for the trip would be quite different and motivation to go if you were getting paid

    • by sakonofie (979872)
      Current computer science graduate student here. My anecdote is that I have directly turned one conference into one summer internship. Networking can pay off, who knew?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 28, 2011 @04:24AM (#35336028)

    apply for travel funding? i got a small travel grant from the royal sociaty in london to travel to a physics conference, they must have similar organisations in the US?

    conferences are a great way to find out if what you are doing is worth anything, and for seeing what other people are doing thats similar to you, great place to meet people and learn new things.

    • by cptdondo (59460) on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:37AM (#35336818) Journal

      Yeah... If the college wants you to go, they should pony up for the fare. I had a paper accepted as an undergraduate in Vienna, and my university sprang for the plane ticket (from New Jersey).

      It's a good thing for the college, too - you're spreading their name out there.

    • by Onuma (947856)
      OP would have to somehow affiliate himself with one of those organizations. Even an intern can be considered for some kind of travel pay, but I doubt they'd fork over the money for someone who is not an employee in some capacity (paid or non).

      Agreed about conferences. They can give you a great bit of insight into your potential future market, for good or ill. Larger conferences also have more people higher up the food chain, so you may be able to impress someone who can offer a solid job too. Worst c
    • The 'no money' part of the problem confused me. My PhD was only a few years ago, and it was standard for your grant to cover travel. My department had the policy that they'd find funding for any student who got a conference paper accepted. I actually spent three months in Utah on a different grant, which was fun (so I'd definitely recommend going to a conference there - especially if you enjoy skiing or beer). Conferences were one of the best bits of being a PhD student - you got to go somewhere interes

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...The least your campus can do is send you to the conference, all fees inclusive.

    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      It's sad to say this, but it's often a business decision on the part of the professor. If they think they can get a grant based on your paper, they'll hook you up with finances from the school, the department, and/or their own funds. Otherwise, you're on your own.

      • The advice i've seen when dealing with expenses that must be claimed back later is to use a credit card. Provided the organisation is half way competant you should be able to get your expenses claimed back by the time the credit card bill comed though. Some people have a seperate card just for this so they can more easilly keep it seperate from their other transactions.

        • As an added bonus, a credit card typically gives you some smallish percentage cash back, so you spend someone else's money, they pay you back, and you get to keep some percentage. A typical conference trip for me cost £500-1000, and my card gave 1% cash back, so that worked out to £5-10 of free money (on top of the free holiday). I think that the policy has changed since I graduated, and travel has to be booked on the department credit card. Professors typically also took advantage of things
  • Depends... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday February 28, 2011 @04:38AM (#35336078)

    Unless you're going to grad school, a publication probably won't help your CV very much. Maybe some exceptions, such as if you've done some original work in a specialized field that you hope to work in, but that's usually for grad students too.

    BTW, a conference publication isn't considered a "journal" publication, and doesn't confer the same status. Conferences are where the work gets done: people present developing ideas and get feedback on them.

    As someone already mentioned, the main reason to go is to meet people. If you're shy, it probably won't do any good. If you're outgoing, you can make some useful connections. But unless someone happens to have a hot job tip, those connections are something that have to be cultivated by going to the same conference year after year and talking to those same people again and again.

    Unless you want to go (you don't sound like it), tell your prof you can't afford it. If s/he really wants you to go, let them find the money for it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nickruiz (1185947)

      Unless you want to go (you don't sound like it), tell your prof you can't afford it. If s/he really wants you to go, let them find the money for it.

      Agreed. Universities are usually willing to sponsor students who submit their work to conferences if the work is of exceptional value because they improve the reputation of the university in the research world. So if you can get a free (or cheap) way to go to Utah and represent your university, you'll also get the chance to network with companies or research institutions that could benefit your career. It never hurts to have a publication on your CV -- even in the business world.

      • Agreed. Universities are usually willing to sponsor students who submit their work to conferences .

        Do factor in the costs of blackjack and hookers. Them young 'uns forget basic necessities when it comes to travel expenses.

        • by corbettw (214229)

          Um, he's going to Utah. Forget the hookers, he needs to factor in the cost of getting two new wives.

    • by hcpxvi (773888)
      BTW, a conference publication isn't considered a "journal" publication, and doesn't confer the same status.
      This is true in my own field (Earth Science) but I get the impression that other fields can be different in this respect and that in computing science in particular, conference proceedings are a much more important thing.
      (BTW I would agree with the majority advice here: it is worth going to these things to meet people, put names to faces etc.)
      • by mdmkolbe (944892)

        In at least my branch of Computer Science, both Journals and Conferences count as long as the conference is good (i.e. peer reviewed and probably a 30-40% accept rate which is usually printed in the forward material of the proceedings). Workshops don't count if you are applying for a professorship, but definitely count if you're an undergrad applying to grad school. Symposiums fall somewhere in between. Some "symposiums" are just big workshops and some are conferences that kept their old name.

        Bottom line

      • Re:Depends... (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday February 28, 2011 @10:19AM (#35337450) Journal
        There's a big overlap in quality between journals and conferences in computer science. A paper at a good conference has a higher impact factor than one in a poor journal. If you get a paper in something like SIGGRAPH, that's better than getting it in almost any of the graphics journals, for example. The same applies to a few of the other ACM and IEEE conferences. In contrast, there are some conferences that rarely publish anything interesting. They're useful to students, because you still get to claim that your work is peer reviewed when you come to defend it before you graduate, but research institutions will count them as being roughly equivalent to a technical report (i.e. you've gone to the effort of writing a paper, but that's about it). There are also a few journals of this quality, but generally they charge for acceptance and there's no point bothering with them unless you're really desperate to get a large number of publications and no one is going to look too carefully at where things are published.
    • by gnapster (1401889)
      From the wording of the summary and the organization's web page, it appears that the journals are essentially special issues published by the ACM. The articles are selected in aggregate [ccsc.org] from the yearly conferences [ccsc.org] that are put on in the organization's ten different regions. So there is probably a low barrier to presentation, with a peer review process for more selective journal publication (OP writes, "...for a chance to have my work published in a journal"). It is probably not the most prestigious journ
    • by antientropic (447787) on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:53AM (#35336524)

      BTW, a conference publication isn't considered a "journal" publication, and doesn't confer the same status.

      In most of CS, conference publications are actually more prestigious than journals. Top conferences such as PLDI, OOPSLA/Splash, Usenix ATC, ICSE and so on are highly selective, difficult to get into, and look very good on your CV (if you're pursuing an academic career). By contrast, journal articles tend to be published almost as an afterthought, years after anybody still cared about the research in question.

      • And, even more irritatingly, some of the top people in some fields within computer science (e.g. Bracha and Ingalls in dynamic languages) have more or less given up publishing. Their best work is all published in technical reports (if you're lucky) or on their blog - and if you cite blog posts in a journal article, it looks lightweight, so it's very difficult to actually cite them properly.
      • ICCV is a big one in my field which is about the same as getting a conference paper.
      • Excuse me, I meant getting a paper accepted to ICCV is like getting a journal paper.
    • Re:Depends... (Score:5, Informative)

      by pz (113803) on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:21AM (#35336770) Journal

      BTW, a conference publication isn't considered a "journal" publication, and doesn't confer the same status. Conferences are where the work gets done: people present developing ideas and get feedback on them.

      Not in CS. In Computer Science, it is far harder, traditionally, to get a submission accepted for presentation at a conference, along with later publication in the proceedings, than it is to get a submission in a journal.

    • Re:Depends... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Fzz (153115) on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:21AM (#35336772)
      BTW, a conference publication isn't considered a "journal" publication, and doesn't confer the same status.

      This is incorrect for most of Computer Science.

      Citeseer has rankings [psu.edu] of publication venues for CS. All the top venues are conferences. BTW, the same is not true for Electronic Engineering though - in EE, journals carry more weight. This is always a bone of contention in fields that span both CS and EE.

      Of course there are also plenty of useless conferences in CS, where no-one will ever read your paper, and you won't meet anyone interesting if you attend. The impact rating serve as a rough guide to where is likely to be interesting, but they're no good for new venues.

      My citation count is currently around 25,000 according to Google Scholar or 7000 according to Citeseer, which uses a different methodology. So I'm probably doing something right. But I'm not in the top 100 most cited authors, so this also shows that there must be an awful lot of publications appearing somewhere. Have to assume most of those are rarely read.

    • "BTW, a conference publication isn't considered a "journal" publication, and doesn't confer the same status. Conferences are where the work gets done: people present developing ideas and get feedback on them."

      This is true for all fields except computer science. In CS, conference publications form the basis of a publication record and journals tend be be more for 'archival' bodies of work. CS conferences are peer reviewed at the same standards as most journals in other fields.

      CS is lacking journals with qu

  • by Another, completely (812244) on Monday February 28, 2011 @04:43AM (#35336100)

    You don't say which graduation you are approaching, so I'll guess it's an undergrad. If you are going to continue with graduate work, or otherwise as a researcher, then it's worth it to gain credibility. It's not unknown for people to prefix a paper presentation with "By the way, I'm looking for a doctoral supervisor." This may be one of the best ways to arrange to do your graduate work in your preferred area, since you are talking to a self-selecting audience.

    If, on the other hand, you want to make some money and have a career (i.e. not work in academia), you're probably not missing much by not going. You might still submit if your professor has funding to send you. Or, if the professor in question was going to attend this conference anyhow, then you could ask if he/she would be willing to present it in your place. A published paper might look good on your CV right out of school; at least it would give the interviewer something to talk with you about.

    • by AlXtreme (223728) on Monday February 28, 2011 @05:34AM (#35336296) Homepage Journal

      Or, if the professor in question was going to attend this conference anyhow, then you could ask if he/she would be willing to present it in your place. A published paper might look good on your CV right out of school; at least it would give the interviewer something to talk with you about.

      I was in the same boat a few years ago and did exactly this. I had a paper published in some eastern conference but really didn't have the time or money to go, but my supervisor did.

      A published paper is a nice way to spruce up your resume and as an undergrad it shows you are willing to go the extra mile. Conferences themselves are only worthwhile if you are actually interested in the topic and want to continue your studies.

      Conferences can be a costly affair, with travel costs and attendance fees. They make their money due to everyone wanting to publish and coming to present their work. IMHO papers and conferences have very little to do with actual science and everything to do with quota's, funding and the like. But that's another topic altogether.

      • Surely you won't need to pay the attendance fee if you're a presenter. At least, if it's a reputable conference.

        • Yes you do. At least, for all ACM and IEEE conferences that I've been to. Academics just charge the cost to their grant, and the money is then used to organise the conference, print the proceedings, and fund a few people who get papers accepted but can't find funds to attend.
  • The most important part of a conference is the social event. You get to know interesting people who potentially work for interesting companies (although I'm not quite sure about the event you're supposed to go to). You also get to learn that other people "in the field" are really as smart or stupid as you are, which will make you more comfortable with the environment, or it will drive you away from it. Either way, you get to know if you would like to stay in academia.

    We routinely try to make our students' t

    • On the social stuff make sure that you are dressed as best you can since you don't know how deep the "networking" may get.

  • Ready for the reason to go... NETWORKING you would be amazed at the job offers you can get while attending anything like this. While I was in the Air Force I attended a few of our major IT conferences, and all these were for the most part was talking with the higher ups about job opportunities when you get out. Trust me go it's worth it.
  • by kathbot (1286452) on Monday February 28, 2011 @05:15AM (#35336240)

    If you get the chance to go to a big, fancy conference in an area that actually interests and inspires you, then you should definitely take it. I went to SIGGRAPH as an undergrad when I was vaguely interested in computer graphics (before starting grad school in the same field) and it was an awesome experience, both the technical presentations AND the social aspect. I hung out with old classmates, new classmates, and went to parties at swanky clubs exclusively for the conference attendees (none of those regular-people riff-raff)... It definitely solidified my interest in graphics and grad school.

    Honestly, though, this CCSC conference looks kind of boring. Is it education related? I can hardly tell. I'd worry that it is too vague/too general and if you went, you'd risk not actually being interested in anything anyone said. Make sure you care at least a little bit about what the conference is actually about, and then yes! Go and meet people and have a good time! The point of a conference is to meet people interested in the same stuff as you.

    Additional point: If you intend to apply to grad school, having work published anywhere helps these days.

  • by ren-n-stimpy (230862) on Monday February 28, 2011 @05:20AM (#35336248) Homepage

    I usually don't have to add comments to items on /., as usually the right answer or comment is already there. But, in this case, it's not.

    I am one of the decision-makers on hiring at my company, as VC-funded startup. (If you like, come interview; we're profitable and hiring). Having a publication is a very good thing for *your entire life*, and it's often something you only get a chance to do young. Yes, when you're young, the cost seems high. But, relative to your future income, it is a drop in the bucket. Lost weekend, $500 flight, $300 hotel... Borrow it from a 30- or 40- something who trusts you, and pay it back over a year.

    Why is it such a good thing? It's irrelevant who you meet there. Maybe you'll get lucky, but, it's not likely. The value is in company you share by being a published author. Software company decision-makers often went to CS grad school, and like to hire people who they can relate to! They will have pubs, you will have a pub. Simple as that.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 28, 2011 @05:44AM (#35336316)

      I have to second ren-n-stimpy's comment as someone who did NOT take advantage of such an opportunity, and further second that this might be your only chance to publish. Do it!

    • >> Having a publication is a very good thing for *your entire life*

      Well, there's also the small matter of the drugs and groupies, but mostly you should go for the resume building.

    • Absolutely, do it, because of what the parent poster says.

      Also consider that getting jobs straight out of university can be tricky for CS graduates. They do get jobs, but it's not always easy, oftentimes because it seems like everyone only wants to hire people with at least 3 years of experience (there was a story about hiring expectations yesterday I think). From an employer's perspective, it's very hard to know which CS graduates are better. You'll have a much easier time if something sets your CV apart f

  • Hi, I think it depends on what do you want to do next. If going into academy, master's/PhD degree, then I would say that it helps a lot to have one article published. However, if you are thinking going enterprise, I think most of those people do not care much about publications. It also depends on the quality of your work. If it is something really good, I think it might be worth going. Have you asked the University or your advisor for funds to go? If your work is really good, I think the University woul
  • Do you plan on staying in education? Do you have something to offer which really adds to your friend? If the answer is no, then no.

    The other benefit is meeting prospective employers and peers. If you're good with meet and greets and have "in demand skills", then this may be a good foot in in the door. Otherwise, you're wasting time and money.

    Please remember, most people in academia are completely disconnected from the "real world." For most of these people, "publish or perish" becomes ingrained. Outside of

  • by rs79 (71822)

    No.

    Networking is the usual answer, but you get better luck in an average bar in a hi tech area. Cheaper, too (unless you pull the "press pass" stunt).

  • by Dunbal (464142) *
    These sorts of things are only good for people who are really interested in the subject matter. Since you have to ask the question, you're not that interested and therefore it would just be a waste of time for you.
  • by Narcogen (666692)

    Not really. CounterStrike is sort of an old game.

  • I mean, the professor sees some advantages in the proposal s/he made you. Why don't you ask:
    a. what does s/he things these advantages are. Possibly, you can slip in a "what's in for me" type of question, even if in a more subtle form.
    b. given that your dilemma is also related to your ability to pay, you can ask a second question on how s/he this this can be approached/solved.

    I mean, you are closer to the professor than you are to /., s/he knows your circumstances better and can resonate better with them

  • Yes, with caveats (Score:3, Interesting)

    by UDChris (242204) on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:17AM (#35336426) Journal

    *Did they publish the abstracts in advance? Usually you can get a feel if a conference is worth it based on the topics to be presented. If there are a few papers that look interesting, I would say it's worth it.

    *Are there any speakers of note? I have found getting the perspective of folks that have remained in the career field for a while to be invaluable. I may not agree with everything they say/so, but a lot of times there are some insights that help with my research, or at least give me an idea of a sub-specialty NOT to pursue.

    *Expanding on the networking comments above, a lot of times the other presenters are available before/after their talks. I've make a lot of good connections that have helped me from an academic/professional perspective up to collaboration on projects. As a student, my advice is to use the opportunity to get a deeper understanding of topic areas you are interested in, if possible.

    *Experience presenting: I emphasize this with all of the younger folks on my team. The ability to articulate your research will directly translate into more opportunities for research, and in some cases translate into funding. This sounds like it might be an opportunity to get some practice. Not all great computer scientists have that ability.

    OTOH, if none of the above apply, see if they will be publishing the proceedings and get a copy. It's probably cheaper.

  • Dude, go! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:24AM (#35336454)

    I *absolutely* advise you to go!

    Why? In short: experience, connections, fun. Please read on.

    I was in exactly the same spot one year ago - just finished my undergraduate thesis, was able to publish it as a paper at ICSE conference and had to decide if I wanted to go. Also, I had the same money problems: ICSE 2010 was in Cape Town, South Africa, the whole trip summed up to well over 2000$.

    For the money $$$: try to get some funding. Both ACM and IEEE (I guess your conference is part of one of those, right?) have funding programs exactly for these situations - young people who'd like to go to a conference and can not afford it. Myself I got a funding for 1500$ by ACM SIGSOFT (Special Interest Group for Software Engineering). The rest I could convince my professor to pay. Also I'm sure your University has some funding program, so make sure to check that out. (Apply for funding at a lot of different places, it is a lot easier to get funding if those people know they only have to pay you some small amount instead of the whole trip.)

    The conference itself was great. You get a real look into the world of CS research. This will help you a lot in your decision if this is actually your future path. Also, the younger you are when you attend a conference, the more it impresses people. (Last year I was one of only a hand full of undergrad students at ICSE, people were quite impressed that I got there.)
    At a conference you can collect a lot of 'weak links' - those those are the ones that will help you get jobs, research positions, funding, ... After the conference I was for example contacted by a recruiter from Google who asked me for an interview. It didn't work out in the end, but still, I was very happy that this happened and it shows how things can work out if you are confident and have a bit of luck.
    Even if no such connections work out in the end, I am of the opinion that publishing at and attending a conference is a very valuable addition to your CV. It might have nothing to do with your future job, but still - you did serious work, you presented it in front of a lot of people - it shows that you are committed!

    Last but not least, attending a conference can be a lot of fun. Grab the interesting people you meet over the day and go get dinner with em, hang out, booze up. It will be really refreshing, and of course further improve your chances of gaining good contacts that might at some point in your career be very helpful.

    At the very, very most submit your paper. You can still decide not to go, but at least you will know if your paper would have been accepted, and you get some professional feedback from important research heads.

    Hope this helps out - best of luck, .f

    • Re:Dude, go! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pz (113803) on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:39AM (#35336824) Journal

      This is the most sage comment thus far. I would add the following to it.

      Every single successful academician that I know -- and I mean every single one -- went to lots of conferences when they were young. Most still go to conferences, but typically become more selective as they become more successful. Since I'm fortunate enough to have made it to upper-end institutions, that biases my sample, but the correlation is still 100%.

      When I was young, my professor didn't have much of a travel budget. Hell, until I became the head of a lab, none of my supervisors had much of a travel budget. I typically was able to get funding, often just partial, for one domestic US conference per year. I like to travel, so I spent my own money, even going into debt, to attend one or two other conferences per year as well, usually one in Europe and one somewhere in the US. I got to meet many, many people. Giving presentations at these conferences was important in developing my communication skills. As a result, I now get four or five invitations to speak at international conferences per year.

      And that's arguably the second most important reason for going to a conference, after networking. As a scientist, assuming you are thinking of the academic track, you have to sell yourself and your research. Only a very small handful of scientists ever do anything so remarkable that they become famous just for that one thing. Most of the rest become well-known because of hard work at becoming well-known. That includes doing good work, but it also, importantly, involves building a reputation for good work. Reputations are built upon interactions that display skill and knowledge. You, as a scientist, are building a brand -- of yourself. Being able to communicate well, and having the skill to do so, is a vital part of that. Attending conferences, with the necessary preparations, works on those skills.

      Going to a conference to present work is not just taking a mini-vacation. Unless you want to waste your time and money. It involves writing a carefully-thought-out presentation, creating good slides or a poster, and practicing over and over again until you can do it in your sleep. You will find, at conferences, that most people do not do this, and the difference between a good presentation and a poor one is not just striking, but feeds back into all of the issues above, including reputation. You should reserve about a week to create your presentation, be it a slide or poster, and then several days to practice it. Give it to colleagues and friends, and tell them to be brutal. Take their feedback to heart. Re-write. Give another practice talk. Repeat.

      Are conferences worthwhile? Absolutely. Will you see the results right away? Probably not.

    • Re:Dude, go! (Score:5, Informative)

      by fish waffle (179067) on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:39AM (#35336826)
      ICSE is a very different conference from CCSC; I'm kind of shocked that someone who was able to get a paper into ICSE doesn't know this. ICSE is a top-tier, 'A'-level conference. CCSE is somewhere in the C's. Few people outside of the US midwest have heard of it, it has a very high acceptance ratio, and lacks any specific research focus.

      All that negative stuff said, you need to start somewhere, and always have to work with the resources and opportunities actually available to you. The conference experience itself can still be useful---as many here have posted the main point is to meet other researchers and gain experience in writing and presenting a paper. If you want a future career in academia, (almost) any publication is better than no publication.

      I don't know what common practice is in your university; places where research is actually done have funding to pay expenses for students attending conferences. Given the audience for CCSC that's probably not true there, so then yes, it's on your own nickel. nb: Don't get your hopes up too much; I seriously doubt google would be actively recruiting at CCSE.

      At the very, very most submit your paper. You can still decide not to go...

      Do not do that. That's how you gain a reputation as an idiot. If you submit a paper you should absolutely be committed to going.

  • by djjockey (1301073) on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:52AM (#35336518)

    Should you go, or should you submit a paper?

    These events, while they can be expensive are worthwhile for all the reasons above. However, submitting a paper is quite a few steps away from paying for flights, accommodation etc.

    If you think you meet the brief outlined in the call for papers - my advice is to submit one. Especially if you have work that is already done and can be easily adapted. You need to be accepted. Possibly edited, then approved etc etc before you actually worry about getting there. Only once your work gets you that far should you worry. If it looks positive, see what your professor can help with. If you are asked to present at a conference, I would suggest you do everything you can to get there (often your conference attendance is free for presenters), so take advantage of the opportunity to show what you know and how good you are.

    Of course, if your paper is not accepted then you don't normally need to attend, and you're only out of pocket your time, so what's the worry?

  • Travel Expenses (Score:4, Informative)

    by timholman (71886) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:34AM (#35336628)

    Is a publication worth it to an undergraduate, even if it's only published in the conference proceedings? Absolutely, for several reasons:

    (1) You have the experience of writing and formatting a technical article.
    (2) You have the experience of presenting your technical work in front of an audience.
    (3) You get to meet new people in a completely different venue, and can potentially network with future employers and faculty from different universities.
    (4) You can have a lot of fun sightseeing or touring the town after hours.

    Keep in mind that if you are thinking about going to graduate school, you'll want to submit your work to an archival journal after the conference, as conference proceedings don't count for much in the hard-line academic world. For someone at your level, however, it's still a good experience even if you take a job immediately after graduation.

    However, having said all of that - you should not be paying your own expenses. If your professor is pushing you to attend, then he or she should be willing to pay for it. Some schools also set aside money for students in your situation; check with the Dean's office and see if you can apply for a travel stipend.

    Nowadays, conference registration fees plus travel plus hotel room plus meals can easily hit a couple of thousand dollars. That's a lot of money for a student to pay out of pocket. Yes, going to a conference is worthwhile, but (in my opinion) not that worthwhile. If your work is really that good, you can get most of the benefit at a tiny fraction of the cost by submitting it directly to a journal.

  • Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by labradore (26729) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:36AM (#35336638)

    Get a bus ticket. Stay in a cheap motel or a hostel. You can afford this. Meeting people is always worth it if you do a small amount of work to maintain your connections. Why pass up an opportunity in this economy?

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:48AM (#35336674)
    Put aside this particular conference. Ask yourself: if you were going to spend a thousand bucks on improving your job prospects, what would be the best use of that money? It's unlikely that this particular 2-day talk-fest would be the answer (unless it's *very* exclusive and your prof. is pulling some strings to get you in). In my real-world experience, conferences are basically just jollies. People are there either as a "reward" or recognition of something, since it's cheaper than a pay rise and comes from the training budget not the salary/bonus budget - or as a bribe if they're disaffected or missed out on the last couple of days away from work. In a few months time nobody who attended that conference will remember you - unless you present your paper naked. Whereas if you spend the same money wisely on other self-promotions or personal-improvement schemes they will last a lot longer.
    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      I think you are going to the wrong conferences.

      There are 2 types of conferences: The vanity ones are run by some company and they are cheap ($100 or less?) because they want every potential customer to come and see their new products. Ex: Microsoft DevDays. These are what companies send people to as a reward. The conference is an excuse - the reward is basically a day or two off with pay and meals included. They head to strip clubs in the evening and it promotes "team building." You are right: don't go

      • by petes_PoV (912422)

        There are 2 types of conferences:

        and which sort (the vanity, or the prestige) events has undergraduates presenting papers?

        The conference the OP is proposing going to is only for colleges. It's not SIGGRAPH

        I still say the money would be better spent elsewhere. In fact "How would you use $1000 to improve your employability" would be an excellent interview question ..... I might start using that one.

  • Having a publication distinguishes you from the thousands of other CS folks. As others have said, it is a good thing that stays with you the rest of your career.

    It won't get you a job in its own right (usually), but it will help.

    As others have suggested, try and get University funding. Or family to help (if they're able).

    It may not be the most exciting experience, but it will be helpful for your career. And, who knows, it may be exciting and you might make excellent connections.

    Good luck! I hope your Un

  • If he is submitting a paper for submission and it is accepted, won't he have more chance of getting funding from somewhere?
  • Yes. You should definitely go.

    The whole point of a conference is to expose yourself to people and ideas that you would not otherwise encounter. Will all the papers be great? No. Can you learn something for all of them. Yes.

    I've never seen a paper presented at a conference that I didn't learn from (although some were negative examples). The sort of people who don't get anything out of a conference are the same people who complain about being laid off and unable to find a job in their mid-thirties.

  • Academic perspective (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gannimo (919171) on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:52AM (#35336866) Homepage
    From an academic perspective it is absolutely worth to publish and to attend conferences.

    The goals as a researcher are to get known and to announce your work.

    In CS you don't submit your work to journals (as in Biology or Physics or Math) but you present your work at conferences. At conferences you meet other people and you also have a chance to discuss new strategies and new ideas. CS is a very open field and it is hard to get in contact with other people. Conferences are venues where you meet the people that you collaborate with.

    One true fact is that conferences are not really worth it if you only go for the talks. Most talks are bad and it is sometimes hart to understand the speaker at all. Additionally you can read the papers after the conference anyway. But at conferences you have all these coffee breaks and the other opportunities to meet other great people in your field.

    So you should see conferences as a possibility to meet a potential future advisor or collaborator.
  • I was part of a Joint publication for two CS papers my last year of college with the CCSC (though I remember the S being for Small Colleges, though that may have changed since 2001). My small college reimbursed all of our travel and room expenses.

    At the time it was well worth the trip, we got to demo an OS

    • WTF slashdot, I typed that in during a long wait for the preview. When the preview finally came up it hadn't cut off the last paragraph.

      Anyway:

      At the time it was well worth the trip, we got to demo an OS X build which was just released, met a handful of people from around the country, met a few work recruiters, got to see the kinds of projects other schools worked on and generally got to unwind. The part that was nice was seeing the other projects. What I learned is that most departments are driven by t

  • by Kludge (13653)

    Utah is pretty cheap. Do creative things to save $$. You can always find a hotel to stay in that is much cheaper than the conference hotel only a few blocks away. Find someone to share the room with you. As a grad student and post-doc I prided myself on how little money I spent going to conferences. Sometimes I would sleep on friends' couches if they lived in the city. So scrounge up a little money and go.
    As noted above by many others, the conference is your opportunity to make contacts. Talk to peopl

  • Your department is expecting you to attend a conference where you're presenting at your own expense? Buddy, you are in the wrong department, or at least you have the wrong adviser. Your research sponsor and/or department should have the money to finance and registration expenses. If they don't, they you have to start asking why the hell not.

  • I'm going to go with some practical travel advice here and let all the prior posters cover the why/why not you should go.

    Being a student on a budget I'm sure you've heard the old fashioned technique of surviving on ramen noodles. Well there can be some travel equivalents.

    For lodging you can try hostels or try Couch Surfing [couchsurfing.com]. (I use couchsurfing personally and have had some great experiences).

    For travel you can sometimes find good deals if it's within your country via bus or rail. There are also ride shares i

  • Worth the time and money? Depends I guess. I just got back from a week-long CS conference and I think it was definitely worth the time and money, but then I can well afford both. Some people have said that conferences are only for networking, ass-kissing etc. I think conferences CAN be valuable for meeting people and making making connections with others. This could help you professionally or academically in the future. But that isn't all. Personally I got a lot intellectually out of the conference I just a
  • Yes, it's worth it. Here are the potential benefits that could come as a result of attending:
    1. Networking: Meeting people that can get you a good job post-graduation
    2. Resume Material: It would look very good on your resume to have a paper included in some journal
    3. Recognition: The fact that one of your professors wants you to do this is a good sign that you could already proposition him/her for a good letter of recommendation. Go to this conference and make a name for yourself and there's a good chance yo
  • by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Monday February 28, 2011 @11:47AM (#35338306) Homepage Journal

    If your professor is recommending you go to a conference, I presume their name is on the paper as a 2nd author. So it'll be to their benefit as well if you go to present it. They and/or your university dept will have money allocated to a travel budget precisely for this kind of thing, and will also know of other sources of funding for students to go to conferences.

    So the answer is: you need to talk to your professor about money, tell them you'd need funding for the trip and ask if they know of any. Indeed, it's quite possible your professor will say "But of course the dept will pay the expenses!".

  • by TheSync (5291) on Monday February 28, 2011 @03:07PM (#35340336) Journal

    1) Publishing is a good thing. It brings serious cred.

    2) On the other hand, what the heck is the CCSC? If you are a CS major and have actual research to publish, I'd shoot for a "real conference" by ACM, IEEE, SIGGRAPH, or the like.

    3) Be prepared for potential paper rejection, because it is a fact of life.

    4) If you want to go to a conference, make it one where you might meet faculty of graduate programs you are interested in, or possibly the kind of people in industry you want to be in.

    5) Many conferences need student volunteers, a good thing to do to mix/mingle/learn even if you don't submit a paper.

    6) Look for youth hostels (always found in major cities), or couchsurfing.org. Or try to split a room with someone, go to Kayak.com and look for the cheapest hotel in the area, Motel 6 or Super 8 is often under $50/night. Take a bus rather than plane, a great opportunity to catch up on reading/programming and cheaper.

  • If the prof suggests you to submit a conference paper, he should cover the costs of your trip, period. This is reasonable and here is how it works in the academia: prof's name is in the author list > he has one more publication in his CV and his current grant report > when he's applying for a grant in the future, better chance to get it. For any decent grant, conference expenses are a footnote. Thus it definitely makes sense for the prof to fly you there if a publication comes out as the result.

    As for your own sake, do this of course (if the prof or university pays). This is fun, useful, you get to see what a conference is like, will listen to talks on diverse topics and get stunned by how littlle you know and understand yet, etc. This is a good item on your CV too, except you should not pay for it (disclaimer: I am from socialist Europe.)

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