More than 13,000 transportation professionals from around the world will gather at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., January 12-16, 2020. Kittelson will join them with a delegation of more than 40 team members, ranging from first-year employees to seasoned staff members.

We always enjoy meeting with students, and anyone interested in career or internship opportunities. In addition to attending Kittelson-led committee meetings and presentations, attendees can connect with us impromptu or reach out beforehand via our website.

Advice for First-time Attendees

Will the 2020 Annual Meeting be your first one? (If so, you picked an exciting one–you can read more about TRB’s centennial celebration here!)

You won’t be alone. Many students and young professionals will also be at their first Annual Meeting this coming January. As a firm, we annually offer the opportunity for our younger staff to attend the Annual Meeting and see firsthand what TRB is like. This helps them gather information they need to decide if they want to get more involved.

Here are our top five pieces of advice for a TRB first-timer.

Make a plan and find a mentor. Attending TRB can be overwhelming. Don’t wait until you arrive to make a plan. Talk to someone in your area of interest who has been to TRB to help you plan your overall experience while there.

Be brave. TRB is a rare opportunity to meet people doing amazing things in the transportation industry, it’s one of the main reasons to go. Get to know someone who’s been to a committee meeting to introduce you to others in the industry. Also, don’t hesitate to speak up during presentations and sessions; find the value you bring and share that with others.

Follow through. Take notes so you can follow-up with people you speak with and meet. Attendees often make connections then forget to follow through on requests. This event welcomes these types of exchanges, so make sure to follow through after the meeting.

Go outside. The event venue has four underground levels and it’s easy to get stuck in “the belly of the beast.” Remember to pack those walking or running shoes and schedule time outside to ensure you get fresh air and time to reflect and decompress. It’s best to keep evenings open for networking events, so look for a short gap in the middle of the day if possible.

Be in the moment. Make the most of your time at TRB by “cleaning your plate” before the conference. Work ahead the week before if needed and clearly communicate with clients and teaming partners, so you can be fully present and focused while at TRB.

Senior Principal Engineer Bastian Schroeder describes TRB as “like drinking through a firehose. There’s so much going on and so much to learn.” Your first Annual Meeting can be overwhelming, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the research at the forefront of the transportation industry, and to make connections with both peers and thought leaders in the profession.

You never know who you’re going to meet or what you’re going to learn! We encourage you to put this advice into practice, and start planning now to make the most of your experience.