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Tips for CSM First Year Attendees

February 16, 2015

The countdown is on for APTA’s 2015 Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) in Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s our first time attending the conference as an exhibitor, so be sure to stop by booth 317 and meet the team! Since it’s our first year, we asked PT Solutions residents who attended previous years for the scoop on what to expect. Below we’ve gathered their advice and tips on navigating the conference for first year CSM attendees.

Immerse yourself in Indy
The real benefits of CSM are found in the hallways between sessions and after hours at social events. Opportunities to meet like-minded professionals and exchange ideas or information is invaluable and a real eye opener to physical therapists’ collective power as a profession. Explore the city, meet new people at recruiter hosted parties and attend PT Pub Night. Have a good time, just be sure not to have too much fun too early – one too many drinks isn’t worth it when you have two more days of CSM to go.

Depend on your Devices
Tablets and smart phones are helpful when following along in sessions. Prepare early by downloading the PDF/PPTs of presentations you know you may attend so you can follow along in real time. The CSM 2015 app is another great way to stay organized during the conference. With the app, you can view details on presenters, exhibitors, and sessions while personalizing your schedule right at your fingertips. Preview the venue maps on the app to ensure you won’t lose your way and stay connected via the social media tab. Follow @APTACSM for official conference tweets and @PT_Solutions to see what we’re up to at the conference!

Mix it up
When putting your schedule together, look into attending a variety of lectures. Focusing on a similar topic with similar presenters could lead to a lot of repeated information.

If you have extra time before a session, see who’s sitting next to you and introduce yourself! Make the most of these interactions and don’t be intimidated by the scope of the conference or letters behind names. Everyone who is attending CSM is there for the same reason, they have a passion for physical therapy and you do too. Business cards are a great way to remember everyone you meet along the way. If you don’t have personalized cards, get creative – share Twitter handles or find one another on LinkedIn. Exhibitors and recruiters will also have the ability to scan your badge to access your contact information. Use these resources and be open to connecting with new people and companies.

Suit up!
This is the time to look sharp.  A lot of first impressions will be made this week. Chances are you may meet your future coworker or employer here, so dressing well (yet comfortable!) is the key to being remembered for your professionalism and not your cartoon pajama pants.

Engage with Employers
CSM is a great way to engage with potential employers. If you are actively seeking a job, bring an updated resume and speak with companies at recruiting events or in the exhibitor hall. This is an easy opportunity to get a feel for companies you could possibly work for in the future. Interested in PT Solutions? Be sure to stop by booth 317 and meet the team. After the conference, follow up with any potential employers by reaching out and expressing interest in open positions.

Prepare for the worst
Nothing is worse than looking down at your phone only to see a bright red battery symbol and 10% life left. Bring a charger and portable battery if you have one. While you’re at it, pack a snack. Keeping almonds or a health bar in your bag saves you from long lines, extra expenses, and getting so hangry that you could star in a Snickers commercial.

We’re looking forward to meeting many of you at booth 317 and hope these tips are helpful as you’re gearing up to attend CSM 2015. Did we miss anything? What tips do you have to ensure a successful trip? Tell us in the comments below!