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Is Attending a CS Conference Worth the Time?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the meet-and-greet dept.

Businesses 244

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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No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336010)

No.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336616)

No.

AC is completely right, but the answer is too short. Here is the long answer:

No, but as a professional computer scientist you need to go to conferences because it's part of your job.

Re:No. (2)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336876)

No, but as a professional computer scientist you need to go to conferences because it's part of your job.

You're right too but your answer is too short. As a professional computer scientist you need to go to conferences because your employer is giving you an excuse to go on an all expenses jolly and skip off work for a few days.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336882)

If it's something like DevoXX, and it's not a too far travel: GO.
Else: don't.

It should match exactly what you are doing.

First! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336020)

First!

Re:First! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336036)

No.

(This exact comment has already been posted. Try to be more original...)

Re:First! (3, Insightful)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336878)

Look, this is ./. It is not important whether you post first or not, whether you post soon or late. What's important is that your comment is thoughtfully pondered; describes in painful detail some personal habit of yours nobody else cares about; and demonstrates thorough knowledge of some technology or process that most people are happily oblivious about, and is completely offtopic. Bonus points if you start a flamewar with it.

Depends (5, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336024)

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 (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (4, Informative)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (5, Informative)

mad_clown (207335) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Depends (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336344)

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 for going and you were getting paid more than if you had stayed at the office, not to mention dining on somebody elses expense and boozing.

btw, his prof might be just wanting you to publish that so that he'll get expenses paid trip and his(the professors) performance is measured by him(the op) publishing the paper(so prof gets more funding). it might still be a good paper but you might have some better use for your time if you wish to get employed after graduation, and in that it matters a lot more that you have some cooky pet project with couple of thousands of random users than a conf paper read by few hundred well wishers(UX lamos conferences would be the example to put here, reprinting ideas from '70's with pride and ponytails).

Yes (0)

wolverine1999 (126497) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336026)

Yes of course it's worth it.

appy for travel funding (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:appy for travel funding (4, Informative)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336818)

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.

Re:appy for travel funding (2)

Onuma (947856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336832)

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 case scenario is you're out a few hundred bones, but you'd have probably enjoyed the conference at least. It's a gamble; you can come out on top or stay even...no real losses to be had.

Re:appy for travel funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336950)

Definite. Many conferences have travel grants for students explicitly to encourage more participation. Don't let cost stop you from going. If you are serious about your career, you definitely should go.

If your work gets published... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336030)

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

Re:If your work gets published... (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336048)

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.

Re:If your work gets published... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336340)

I got a paper accepted for presentation at a conference as a result of my undergrad work and subsequently got travel funding from both my lab and the uni's school of engineering. You're quite right, the only way it happens is if you present a coherent business case - what's the school going to get out of it? (hint: an inspired PhD student is often considered a pretty good reward!)

Obligatory ...PHD (3, Interesting)

CyberK (1191465) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336342)

Re:Obligatory ...PHD (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336962)

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.

english comprehension (-1, Offtopic)

longhairedgnome (610579) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336038)

lrn 2 proofread

Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336040)

It's really difficult to say.
We don't know what the thesis is about, how good it is, where you want to go from here (do you want to continue with academic work etc.)
Not really easy to give a simple answer.

Re:Depends (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336188)

I was going to give you +1 but you posted as anonymous coward :( I really think that your answer pretty sums up this thread since it's impossible to determine without more information or assuming certain things... If you're going to go, at least be well prepared and know how to mingle and display yourself in mixers. At the end of the conference, there will certainly be a mixer so giving out business cards and learning everyone's names and what they do will be a challenging task as a first timer (assuming). From what I've heard though, your biggest benefit from this kind of conference will be after the fact, so if you're going to go, you're basically traveling to meet up with people. I'm certain that there are mixers every day near your place about various things. You should look at the local chamber of commerce website for information about this.

Not worth the money (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336056)

I've been to a few such conferences. The trips were paid for by the university so I took them as unofficial perks to alleviate the low researcher pay.

Didn't find them useful, though. There are easier ways to pick up the proceedings.

Re:Not worth the money (2)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336156)

I've been to a few such conferences. The trips were paid for by the university so I took them as unofficial perks to alleviate the low researcher pay.

Didn't find them useful, though. There are easier ways to pick up the proceedings.

In that case you've missed out on the whole real reason for going to them; the chance to meet up with and talk with other folks in your field. It's rare that a conference is truly worth it for the talks — there are exceptions, but they're really unusual — and it's better to read the proceedings in your own time, but being able to find out what's really going on, hear the latest gossip, associate a face and manner with someone you've corresponded with, and perhaps have a party too, well, that's all really worthwhile.

It's a primate thing I suspect, but while chimps go in for mutual grooming, researchers have conferences.

Re:Not worth the money (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336246)

find out what's really going on, hear the latest gossip, associate a face and manner with someone you've corresponded with, and perhaps have a party too, well, that's all really worthwhile.

It's a primate thing I suspect, but while chimps go in for mutual grooming, researchers have conferences.

Sorry, I was in it for the science and not for the soap opera.

Re:Not worth the money (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336304)

While you didn't explicitly state it, many others pointed out how you can use a conference to "make connections" to get a job. The whole "networking" deal really annoys me because generally, you're not going to be having enough time talking to anyone to actually show them how knowledgeable you are - so it pretty much boils down to getting a job because you spent some time ass kissing before you apply for a position. I'm aware it's not how it works in the real world, but I think people should be hired based on their ability to do the job, not to suck up to someone.

Re:Not worth the money (1)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336350)

Whether or not you spend those few minutes kissing asses, they can be invaluable for deciding if you are actually going to apply for a job with that person. It's a two-way street.

Re:Not worth the money (4, Informative)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336594)

I have got all my jobs after my PhD from people i meet at conferences. I didn't kiss arse, i was "me" both with respect to the social activities and the professional talks/work. I know my field so when i meet people I generally know what they have done, otherwise i just ask and we talk "shop". It is not hard to work out who will be a good boss and who will not, if what they work on is interesting or not. Also they quickly work out if you are going to be a good post doc or not.

Now when you apply for a position you are not just a name on a pile. It really makes a big difference.

Re:Not worth the money (2)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336338)

This is the "Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges". It will be a very broad event, I suspect. That is why a researcher, like the AC here, will not find it very useful, but a Senior undergraduate would find it more interesting. (They have not yet delved deeply into a particular field.) That is exactly the reason that I think it would be good for the Ask Slashdot questioner to attend.

Travel grant / stipend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336060)

Usually it is good to go and present your work at a conference. For some of the bigger conferences sometimes conference issued travel grants are available. There are also a lot of other possibilities in trying to obtain some form of external funding to travel to a conference. On the other hand it is also in the interest of your college to have their work presented and not very uncommon to sponsor you.

Depends... (2, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Depends... (3, Interesting)

nickruiz (1185947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336134)

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.

Re:Depends... (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336720)

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.

Re:Depends... (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#35337036)

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

Re:Depends... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336148)

I would definitely ask the professor to pay,

A professor's funding is usually related to the number of publications he has.
So if the prof's name is on the paper and he thinks its worth publishing, he should also be willing to pay for it.
Otherwise he's just using you to get one free publication with his name on it.

Re:Depends... (2)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336306)

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.)

Re:Depends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336502)

nope, conference publication are pretty much worthless when it comes to computing science (unless your aiming for a career in academia or it is in a specialized field and has some very original work that may make you more employable).

Re:Depends... (2)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336748)

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: Ask your Professor. He or she will be able to tell you what if anything this conference is worth.

Re:Depends... (1)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336332)

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 journal, but an article selected here is probably more significant than a conference paper.

CS conferences vs journals (4, Informative)

antientropic (447787) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Depends... (1)

warGod3 (198094) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336732)

A conference publication and a "journal" publication are different. However, having any publication on a resume/CV with a corresponding conference presentation will allow you to set yourself apart from your peers, especially when applying for a job.

Re:Depends... (1)

kirtu (908082) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336752)

Actually any publication on a resume is a plus in the work world.

Re:Depends... (4, Informative)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336770)

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... (3, Insightful)

Fzz (153115) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Yes, but for one thing only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336090)

I've yet to attend a conference that I thought worthwhile outside of keeping up social appearances. So it depends on the value that you place on your peer group.

What are you planning on doing next? (3, Insightful)

Another, completely (812244) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:What are you planning on doing next? (3, Informative)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336296)

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.

Re:What are you planning on doing next? (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 3 years ago | (#35337008)

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

Go if you can! (1)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336110)

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' theses into publications at decent venues, and then send them there. We usually pay for the trip and the conference fee too. If that's not possible at your group, check if there's some kind of travel grant for the conference where you can apply.

Re:Go if you can! (2)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336692)

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.

The good thing about conferences is... (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336164)

You can write them off. So a conference in Vegas is like a half-price party weekend. That's assuming you make a lot of money, which you don't.

Re:The good thing about conferences is... (2)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336970)

So a conference in Vegas is like a half-price party weekend. That's assuming you make a lot of money, which you don't.

So it's more like being stuck in a cheap hotel in the middle of a desert and paying twice as much for all your meals.

It's worth it for this reason (2)

Erie Ed (1254426) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336166)

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.

Of course it is (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336174)

What's not to like about a Counter Strike conference?
Maybe I'll go read the rest of the summary now.

absolutely yes (1)

magwm (466805) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336220)

I second all those that said YES for networking reasons. If you want to continue working/researching in CS, you should absolutely get in contact with as many people as you can that share interests and physically interact with them in all sorts of ways. Internet is not the only way you know.
As for job opportunities, same thing. it's one big job interview out there.. ;)
Also, don't fill up all your available time when you'll be there, take time to get comfortable with the surroundings, and make some business/contact cards.

If you're gonna be an academic... (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336236)

... then it's important. If you're not, then it's a waste of time unless you're going to treat it like vacation.

Some conferences more worthwhile than others (4, Informative)

kathbot (1286452) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

are you kidding? GO! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336242)

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.

Are you kidding? Go! (5, Insightful)

ren-n-stimpy (230862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336248)

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.

Re:Are you kidding? Go! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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!

Re:Are you kidding? Go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336418)

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?"

No offense to the submitter, but personally I'd rather have him work on this grammatical skills before he went to a conference.

Re:Are you kidding? Go! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336804)

I have to agree. While professionally I'm not in the CS field, I am an engineer with a major corporation. There are several reasons for going to the conference, even if you have no interest in graduate and post graduate work. If you are interested in academics after your current degree, having an early record of work can only help.

My company has set several criteria for promotion to the 'Technical Specialist" ranks, those positions higher than senior engineering positions on technical track that parallel's management. One of them is to have a certain number of publications. So there's one reason. A second reason is the confidence building it can do. I got involved a long time ago when I ionly had my Bachelor's, and realized I fully understood what all the PhDs were talking about. One year, when one presenter couldn't attend I found myself presenting their paper, and answering questions about it as if it was my own. While it wasn't my purpose, that alone, my ability to read, understand, present and defend another's work on less than 24 hour notice got me a job offer.

Obviously you can meet other people, which can be good for professional and personal reasons. What may be more important is the contact with ideas. Not just the papers presented, but things the varous 'sponsors' are showing, and the ideas that get talked about in groups. If nothing else, you'll be on the cutting edge.

All that said, yes, it will cost you money. Plan ahead, use the internet. I attended a conference in southern California, from the midwest, and it cost me under $1000 for 5 days. I had a room in a quaint motel a block from the beach, walking distance to several places of interest. Getting away from the ice and snow of January alone was almost worth it. The ideas were more than worth it.

Yes (1)

L473ncy (987793) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336256)

I would say yes. I attended a consortium/symposium hosted by my university and it was an amazing experience. Granted I'm only a Bachelors student and a lot of the stuff was over my head but the networking potential (and seeking/finding the right prof to do a Masters/Ph.D under) is definitely worth it. Also, see if you can get a travel grant/subsidy. A lot of universities will have them for their students to travel to slightly lessen the costs, it may be most expenses or just a subsidy but even $100 goes a long way. Check your scholarship/finance office, grad studies office, and even with your prof or department head.

Conferences in Utah. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336258)

The conference n Utah will be awesome!

First there's the Mormon hookers. They're great! You get them for at least 2 for the price of 1 compared to Nevada - they're Mormon so women are used to not being the only one and they expect to be paid that way!

The parties. There's no coffee or alcohol; so it's just cocaine - cheap!

If you don't want hookers, there are the young girls on the street. Ever have the hots for a 16 - 17 year old? (Why not? Most girls are at their best at that age before they pork out!) Well, it's legal! Just marry them! Don't worry, it's not legal in any state but just say you're a Mormon and they marry you and fuck you brains out - gotta pump out those children!

Anyway, you gotta go to experience it!

Wait till you get a conference in LA and all those Scientologist broads! It's only good if you're into repressed homosexuals, though.

Speakers have to pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336262)

As I understood it you would only go there if you actually had something accepted and would speak there.
What kind of conference doesn't at least mostly pay the expenses for speakers? I'd seriously doubt the relevance of appearing at one that can't even afford this.
You could still try it, and in the worst case just say you can't afford it if you don't get the money. Of course that's a bit respectless, but I don't think they have a right to expect anything else if they don't cover expenses.

Re:Speakers have to pay? (3, Informative)

dtmos (447842) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336384)

What kind of conference doesn't at least mostly pay the expenses for speakers?

That would be "substantially all conferences." Unless you're an invited speaker at a truly major conference, e.g., the after-lunch or after-dinner speaker, or maybe the keynote speaker opening the conference, you won't be getting any of your expenses paid by the conference. The economics don't support it: Most conferences are actually closer to workshops, in that a substantial fraction of the attendees are also presenting papers. Paying for each others' travel would only raise the conference registration fees to unacceptable levels, and guarantee that no non-presenter would be able to attend.

What's next in your career? (2)

jcrada (1876280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336266)

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 would have no problem at all paying for your expenses.

Very likely, no. (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336272)

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 academia, its all too often a waste of time.

Not worth the time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336284)

I rather play CS online...

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336290)

Go. Write the paper. Use it as resume fodder. Meet people that you could see yourself working for. Sleep in your car.

Yes and no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336294)

I have never seen a student in CS paying for a conference from his own pocket. If your work is part of your professor projects, he surely has research funds that pay for this kind of things. Yes, it's very important to go to conferences, specially in CS. But I would never go if I had to pay by myself. Also, it is not true that you need to go to conferences before publishing in a journal. If your paper is really good you can directly submit to a journal related to the field of research. Even if it's not accepted, you'll get feedback from the reviewers to improve your paper, and then you can try another journal.

By the way, checkout the latest (2/25/2011) phd comic, it's about conference payment: http://www.phdcomics.com/

overnight costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336314)

I'm not sure about your particular conference, but in general the organizers make tons of money with it. I work for a major automotive OEM and they always invite us to talk at conferences and offer a special discount fee. When I mention that our company policy is never give a talk and pay for admission (it is true, not made up), they promptly give us free entry. If your presence is highly wanted, they often end up paying the overnight as well. They rarely pay for travel cost, but that one is ok.

So my point is that if you have something really interesting to show and the conference is somehow "massaged by marketing" rather than purely scientific, there are good chances that you can get some financial help.

Regarding being worth your time there have been many answers by others, and I consider them great advices so I won't repeat that.
I'd like to add that wasting two days is a very small price to pay, regardless of how bad it could end up being.

Good luck with your decision.

No. (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336348)

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).

Nah (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336356)

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.

CS (1)

Narcogen (666692) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336378)

Not really. CounterStrike is sort of an old game.

corepirate nazi elitists to be held/accountable (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336380)

& their employees (including murderous hired goons, accounting frauds etc...) as well. see you there?

Get a grant or make the prof present (1)

dtdmrr (1136777) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336416)

If the prof is a co-author they get credit where it counts most for them. If you're at a research school, publications may be the primary metric for their performance, teaching and graduating students only count if they are a serious problem of if the research is sub-par. As such, get the prof to pay for the trip. If the prof won't/can't pay check with the school. Many schools have travel grants for students in just this sort of situation. Finally if all else fails and you really just don't want to go, but you've done the research, make the prof present it. You still get the author credit.

Suggestion: why don't you ask the professor? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336422)

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 than /. crowd (even more so as you are posting the question as an AC, so the very chances that someone here would know you are an immense zero).

Yes, with caveats (3, Interesting)

UDChris (242204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336426)

*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.

Why isn't your prof paying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336440)

I just finished my Ph.D. Every prof I've ever known... ever... has paid at least some, and usually all, of the travel expenses a student of theirs incurs for travelling to a conference. Why isn't yours paying?

Other than that, I agree with what other people said. It is good as an experience and for meeting people.

I am a bit suspicious of this conference, though. Most serious academic conferences have a specific theme, be it graphics or databases or whatever. This conference seems to be themeless. It may be a second or third or fourth tier conference.

Campus funding (1)

Earyauteur (1142601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336444)

While it is difficult for faculty at many institutions to find funding to attend conferences, it is possible that funding possibilities exist for students at your institution. Be sure to exhaust all university travel grants before you spend any of your own money. If there isn't an official program, ask your department for funding directly.

maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336448)

Is it worth going? Here is some logic.

go_to_conference = false;

if( you want to be an academic )
{
      if( the conference has people going who have published *good* journal papers )
      {
              go_to_conference = true;
      }
      else if( you are presenting a piece of work you are genuinely proud of )
      {
              go_to_conference = true;
      }
} // assuming you want a job
else
{
          if( this is the only way to get the paper accepted/published in proceedings && the paper is good )
          {
                go_to_conference = true;
          }
}

In my experience, some conferences are really good and you setup a lot of useful connections and potential collaborations. Others are a complete waste of time, organised by people who just want the kudos of organising a conference. It is difficult to know before you go though...

Dude, go! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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! (4, Insightful)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336824)

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! (4, Informative)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

What is the real question? (3, Informative)

djjockey (1301073) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

University Reimbursement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336590)

My apologies if this was already mentioned, but if this is for academic purposes, and you're still in school, I'm almost certain there are channels you can take advantage of to get reimbursed fully from the university. I went to 2 of these during my undergrad, and the only stipulation was that I acknowledged my school in the paper and presentation. Submitting material is key though; if you were just wanting to go without "marketing" your school in some way through a research paper or whatnot, then it might be more difficult to get reimbursed.

Don't bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336604)

I am an academic (professor) in computer science. I wouldn't bother if I were you. These things are only worth going to if someone is paying for you, and even then, for a non-mainstream conference like this, it's questionable.

I wouldn't bother, even if you are going to grad school. (that's the only time it could be feasibly of benefit, and then only of small likelihood)

Travel Expenses (3, Informative)

timholman (71886) | more than 3 years ago | (#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. (3, Interesting)

labradore (26729) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Better ways to invest $1k in your career (3, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Keep away from the marketing guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336678)

Conferences are great to meet people. Chances are you'll be offered some interesting job. Sometimes though people get overenthousiastic (either that or you end up speaking with the marketing guy), and the offer fades away in project management heaven. Even so realistically in my opinion, going to conferences pays itself in the long run.

Why not??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336680)

Man, everyone says that if you are going enterprise then you should not, but if you are going to the academy, you should. A little before I graduated I had a paper in a conference, even though I knew I was going to the enterprise. It was fun writing It, a learned a lot while doing it, presenting it was absurdly frightening, but the overall experience was really fun.

Also, you do not know what you are going to do in the future. After 5 years working for big companies, I got really tired from that and decided to go for a master's degree. Again, it was the same kind of fun. In just finishing my dissertation, and still working on papers, even though I'm back in a company. Why? because I do not know what I will be doing In five years.

As was said before, the money seems a lot now, but it is not. Just go, you really have nothing to lose!

Definitely try to go. (1)

pacergh (882705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336762)

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 University helps you out!

Funding? (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336800)

If he is submitting a paper for submission and it is accepted, won't he have more chance of getting funding from somewhere?

A contrary view (2)

DeathSquid (937219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336836)

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 (3, Informative)

Gannimo (919171) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336866)

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.
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