So I have never actually been speed dating, but I believe this past Friday’s SPH Poster Session was a similar experience. It’s chaotic with lots of new faces, lots to talk about, and little time to convey everything you want to! Maybe you’re even seeing people you sort of know or recognize…waving at others from across a crowded room…and sipping on water any chance you get, in hopes not to lose your voice while blathering on about yourself..
Anyways, here are some modified speed dating tips to prepare you for your poster session next year, first-years:
1. Prepare a Profile. (My version: Maybe just prepare?).
Basically, work on your internship elevator speech! I’m not sure if I prepared enough beforehand since my conversations went off into so many different directions (might be due to having two posters) but it’s a good idea to just have some points about your internship that you want to get across when speaking to the first-years or others who come visit. Keep it short and sweet, about 1 or 2 minutes long, and highlight the positive aspects of your internship.
2. Have Questions Ready.
Have a set of questions ready to ask each person who comes up to the poster for after you give your elevator speech. You want to ask about their interests and see how they can align with what you have done in your internships – or outside of the internships too. You can ask about their current classes or if they have a work study position. Find a way to make it more of a conversation instead of a presentation.
3. Have Confidence.
Yes, it really stinks talking about yourself for two hours straight, but remember that you could have a lot to give the newbies and try your best to stay positive…
4. Be Positive.
When the poster session begins, you may think there is no one there will come to talk to you. Thinking this way before the session even starts is a recipe for disaster. Keep your mind open and smile. Though you want to be positive in the way you speak about your internships, you should be honest about the barriers/problems you encountered in your experience.
5. Don’t be a flaw finder. (My version: Just because someone’s interests don’t match yours initially doesn’t mean that you should have them move on to the next poster! Find some common ground!)
This goes hand-in-hand with being positive and having questions ready above. But also important to remember is that you’re not just there to talk to the first-year students, but also professors, fellow students from other departments, professionals, and more. I actually had a long conversation with a freshman student who had been told I was working at the Center for Managing Chronic Disease and we talked about her pursuing public health for the rest of undergrad and maybe graduate school.
6. Avoid bringing personal baggage to the table. (My version: Don’t get to negative aspects of the internship right away, but do be honest about them).
Like mentioned above, it is your responsibility to be honest if there were negative aspects to the experience that someone who is interested in following in your footsteps should be aware of.
7. Be engaging.
I’m keeping some of what the Millionnaire Matchmaker said initially for this tip– “Patti Says: ‘The conversation should become a ping-pong match…Respond to questions with positive energy and enthusiasm, and stay on neutral subjects…Witty banter is very important. Ask interesting questions, be a good listener as well as an active participant.’”
Say hi to everyone who walks by, even if they do NOT look interested initially. You can change their minds! I also tried to have an interactive component to my presentation with the ribbons’ colors and cancer awareness..
8. Go easy on the booze. (My version: While going easy on the booze should be pretty obvious …. Have a nonalcoholic beverage on hand).
Luckily, Kau’i was the poster next to me and went to get water for us, essentially coming the rescue when we were both dying of thirst!
9. If you’re interested, show some interest! (My version: If you and an individual are truly finding your interests align, put a little more effort in to make their experience a little better).
I ended up having some wonderful conversations and gave information to first-years about certain professors’ research, particular classes, and job/volunteer opportunities.
10. Mind your manners. (My version: Look nice, act professional, and engage with your peers and others).
Thank you to everyone I got to speak with on Friday – it was so much fun, even if you were just at my posters to snag some candy.
Also if we didn’t get a chance to talk, or you have any additional questions for me about my summer internships at the Center for Managing Chronic Disease or the Cancer Support Community, please feel free to contact me! Thanks!
Tips modified based on two very credible sources: