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I am attending my first ever workshop next week, in Theoretical Computer Science. My goal is plain - discuss interesting ideas to find new problems to work on and collaborators to work with. My advisor is very supportive of this, as he says one must always try to work on problems independently (or at least with other students/non-professors) on the side.

While I'm very excited at the prospect of something good panning out of this, I'm also very nervous for the following reasons: 1) I have zero publications. Our current work is not completely written up yet. 2) I also am slow in understanding things, so I tend to ask lots of questions in talks otherwise can't get anything out of them and quickly get lost.

I am worried that these two characteristics will make me appear very undesirable as a collaborator.

I am also not totally clear on how I can steer a conversation with someone (say during a coffee break) to "Do you have any problems you are interested in that I could also work on?". Obviously this is 100% selfish, but it's really my only interest in being at the workshop.

Any advice is much appreciated!

  • Do not listen to the Impostor Syndrome! – JeffE Oct 1 '17 at 2:23
  • @JeffE I appreciate the response, but I believe that not everyone that thinks they are slow or among the weaker researchers suffer from the Impostor Syndrome: someone's got to be in the bottom half. I can, however, take your advice in the spirit that "no matter what they think of me, I'm going to boldly go and talk to these awesome people" :) – convexityftw Oct 1 '17 at 3:07

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