Student - October 9, 2009

Four tips for a free symposium

VHL Coastal and Marine Management student Marlot Roelofs managed to get free entry to De Noordzeedagen (The North Sea Days) and free accommodation. She explains in four steps what you need to do for this.

Lunch during De Noordzeedagen
Symposia are known for being the best events for making useful contacts and becoming known. If you think it's impossible for students to get free entry to a restricted symposium with free overnight accommodation, you're wrong. All you need to do is do some research on the symposium organization and make use of your student status. If you're ready to take up the challenge, here's what to do in four steps. Before you know it you will be sitting down to a huge lunch and talking to the experts in your professional field.
Most symposia that are organized professionally have restricted entry. The entrance fees are often high. That is why you are best off sending a letter stating your arguments to the symposium's communications coordinator (you will find the address on the symposium Internet site). Say in the letter that you will phone him in a week's time.
When you talk to him, propose making an active contribution by giving a presentation or raising awareness about the symposium among other students. In this way you will be able to negotiate; for example, an active contribution in exchange for free overnight accommodation.
Be bold and make it clear that you are attending the symposium in order to invest in yourself. This shows that you are motivated and prepared to put in the work.
Exploit the fact that you are young and will eventually be contributing to the future of the profession. The communications coordinator was once a student too and he will know what it's like to be in your shoes.
Be patient and don't give up. You are a student and therefore you think nothing of putting in the effort for an all-inclusive day out. After all, the word symposium is derived from the Greek 'symposion', which literally means 'drinking together'. That should certainly not be a problem. / Marlot Roelofs