This post is by Si Sun, a student at Rutgers University and a volunteer at #ASIST2016.
I would be struggling with deciding on a session to go to on Tuesday morning if I was not assigned a session as a student volunteer. The session assigned to me was “Research Perspectives on Serendipity and Information Encountering”. It turned out to be an extremely interesting session, and it led me to think about the issue of whether engineering serendipity can lead to a false perception of serendipity. So I followed one of the panelist, Dr. Naresh Kumar Agarwal, to the Annual Awards Luncheon to discuss more about the topic. There, I met Dr. Donald O. Case, whose books are classical reads of my area.
When I look back on the chain of wonderful events, I concluded that being a student volunteer is one of the best ways to engineer serendipity encounter at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting in a potentially unbiased way.
The ASIS&T student volunteer opportunity pushed me to enjoy the conference to its fullest. Many of the conference attendees suffer from different levels of jet lag, including me, but my jet lag did not show symptoms until I passed out for a solid 7-hour flight back to the United States. This is because I have a few student volunteer sessions early in the morning and they all turned out to be so interesting that I stayed alert easily for the rest of the day. During the whole conference, there was not a time slot when I was not enjoying some aspects of the conference. Another great feature of the ASIS&T student volunteer program is that although we help with sessions, our workload is moderate, so we do not feel overwhelmed with work or overstaffed to a level of boredom, and have enough energy for explorations.
Also, being an ASIS&T student volunteer gives us more opportunities to socialize and pushes those of us who are shy to socialize more. One of the responsibilities of student volunteers is to maintain communication between session moderators, speakers, conference organizers, and IT support staff. These responsibilities give us extra chances to get to know all these great people and learn how the conference is organized behind the scenes. In fact, during my term as Chair of SIG HLTH at ASIS&T, I received tremendous help from the people I met at the ASIS&T Annual Meetings over a few years. Many of those people that I owe many thanks to are people that I met and/or worked with as a student volunteer.
Of course, there are many other benefits that comes with being an ASIS&T student volunteer, which I am sure my fellow student volunteers will give you a great tour on. I would just like to show you some of the pleasant surprises that the student volunteer experiences has brought me. I look forward to seeing you at ASIS&T 2017 Annual Meeting and hearing your stories of serendipity encounters at the conference.