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AAPOR 2017: The Value of Face-to-Face Time in a Digital Age

May 15, 2017
In 2014, I was working in a small team at an academic survey unit, managing the college’s survey lab. I had experience doing a little bit of everything, but was feeling stuck. Did I want to stay in survey research?

With this and other questions in my head, I went to my first Annual Conference for the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) in 2014. I attended sessions that opened my eyes and reminded me of the survey methods class I took in grad school, which is what drew me to survey research in the first place. I listened to people passionate about the work they were sharing and I heard about topics that led me to realize I had so much more to learn, such as survey collection methods, nonresponse bias, and the role of the interviewer in refusal avoidance/conversion.

I left that conference with a focus on pursuing project management and an assurance that survey research was where I belonged. I also connected with Heather Hammer and Alisha Creel, both of Abt Associates, at a speed networking event. That led to my eventual hiring at Abt SRBI, which recently fully merged with Abt.

In short, that first AAPOR conference reinvigorated my appreciation of survey research methodology and set a course for my career.

At the 2016 conference, I connected with leaders of the AAPOR Communications Committee through my tweets during the conference. They recruited me to become an AAPOR member. This year, at my fourth AAPOR conference, I’m moderating a session for the first time and watching one of my clients present our work on a pilot study we conducted last year assessing list sample sources. And I’m part of an Abt team that is giving 13 presentations.

AAPOR has given me a lot. It took me to a different direction in my career. I have been able to present work I have done and learn about work that colleagues in the field are doing. AAPOR is my opportunity to briefly step out of the daily grind of managing projects and serving clients, and remind myself that our work is important and contributes to the field as a whole.

Read more about work by Lee and other Abt staff at AAPOR 2017.

Photo caption (top): Nicole Lee and Andrew Evans, both of Abt Associates, with their poster presentation at the AAPOR 2015 Annual Conference. 
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