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IfA 2012 Conference - Is it a worthwhile time/financial investment?
Hi all. I should probably use my first post on this forum as a means by which to introduce myself; however i'm sure i'll take a trip over to the bar a bit later. My first concern, and the principle reason for finally making the effort to register here, is to ask other members what they think about the IfA, the 2012 conference and whether it is worth attending. The ?180 fee for three days (as an affiliate/potential practioner member) seems a bit steep; however as a recent masters graduate who is currently seeking desperately to gain a firm foothold within the discipline (beyond the temporary geophys position I have had the good fortune to secure) I wonder whether the opportunities for networking are worth the cost alone.

Any thoughts?

p.s. apologies if this has been posted in the wrong subforum. It seemed appropriate but I may be mistaken.
My line would be that if you were to attend one conference this year, this would be worth considering, since it gives you a good insight into current practices and issues. On the other hand, the attendees tend to be senior staff and curators, so the networking potential is more limited than you might expect. My advice would be to spend the time and money on becoming a Practitioner.
It's a tough market out there and there is alot of talent, experience and improper practice out there, so when it comes to it, an industry needs a fair crack of the whip in meeting the industry's true potential.

No mean feet I know
Good first post. and good answers (Martin was very honest)
You have to remember that the 180 is the conference, then there is transport, accommodation and ...ahem... sundry costs... so put aside ?500-600 in total.

Is it worth it.? Well it depends who you are and what you want to do. Networking is - as Martin says. senior management... as they are often the only people who can afford to go. Perhaps the IfA should consider this as well. and how it may add to the perception that IfA -= Institute of Management Archaeologists. Does there need to be a specific drive to include more people at the start of the career?

I have yet to decide whether I shall go. cos even here in lofty BAJR Towers, with my gold plated computer keyboard, spending 5-600 quid does make me think twice.

I am seriously considering attending for one day - the day of the IfA EGM....I'm not overly interested in the IfA conference as a concept. There is no charge to attend the EGM other than the cost of getting there

I think I agree with Martin regarding the networking potential of the IfA conference. I would say the dance floor of the last night party of the TAG conference has better all round networking potential!!...but perhaps a word of warning... I wouldn't say that a career strategy based on 'who you know' rather than 'what you know' hasn't been tried before, but in the world of UK archaeology (where behind every appointment lies a conspiracy theory or two) it does tend to mark you out amongst your peers and when eventually you stumble (and we all do) you might be surprised at the lack of support from colleagues.
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
Thankyou for such interesting and insightful replies everyone. I had always suspected that the conference, and indeed the active membership of the IfA more generally, was likely to be populated by higher ranking individuals and other suit-wearing types (not that I have anything against suits; I am just now quite used to track suit bottoms, a hoodie and wellies!). In the long-term perhaps it would be worthwhile attempting to make myself known and establish some contacts who could provide support and advice; however i'm not entirely convinced I have anything of note that I can market at this stage. My background is in Geography/pollen analysis, followed by a Masters which focused to a greater extent upon environmental archaeology, whilst my practical experience includes a very small amount of excavation and ever increasing hours of geophysics. I'm also considering setting aside some spare time in order to teach myself illustration and reconstruction drawing; however the likelihood of being able to achieve any recognition in that area is obviously quite remote. Perhaps my best option, as suggested above, would be to strive for practioner status within the IfA whilst employing any remaining time and money for the purpose of attending conferences which are of profoundly greater interest and which possess more networking potential, such as TAG and perhaps the AEA's forthcoming get-together. Certainly though, I do feel that more could be done within the organisation to appeal to the younger generation of archaeologists, particularly those currently in the process of clawing at the bottom rung of the ladder, perhaps in the form of networking/social events, either amongst themselves or which attempt to bridge the gap between the ties and the trowels. On the other hand I am very much in the process of starting out and it may be that I still have much to learn about the IfA and the world of professional archaeology as a whole.

Thanks again for the comments. I will still contemplate my options, but I think my mind is almost made up.
Have you considered that at your career stage membership of the IFA will not provide you with any advantages at all? :face-stir: and that it isnt worth much for anyone below MIFA grade - which you can apply for as and when you need/qualify? :face-stir:

Maybe you should consider union membership first? You sound like you think that joining is the natural thin to do to progress but admit that they do not cater well for people at your career stage
In truth, at first I did believe that joining the IfA would be a worthwhile endeavour, particularly as they have an option specifically for students. At the time of joining it did at least provide some insight into professional archaeology whilst I was still studying; however now I have at least some form of relevant employment and have spoken to both my colleagues and diggers working for other units it does seem as though relatively few people in a similar position to myself are members. I think I would be reluctant to pull out completely; however perhaps hanging back as an affiliate and biding my time until I have more experience/a more stable job would be a better idea. For some reason I had assumed that the IfA was effectively the union for archaeologists but clearly not. I'll run a google search anyway, but if you could mention an organisation or two that would be great.
Any spare cash should go on evening classe to get together those vital skills. CAD and Adobe illustrator courses, though not focused on archaeolgy, will give you some transferable skills. For net working go to local archaeology conferences and archaeology days find out who are the units who work in your region. Vist site open days chat to the staff get your face known.
The IFA is most definitely not a union! Def agree with Wax on the local visits but think its unhealthy to be so focused on networking and advancement - people can sniff it a mile off and and it can make for an uncomfortable situation. Chill out, enjoy yourself and your genuine interest will shine through :face-kiss:

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