How to be an effective DASCorps member at a conference


The Digital Arts Service Corps requires that host organization's send their VISTA member to a national conference during their year of service. Attending a conference provides a number of important trainings, development and future-plan opportunities for VISTAs with numerous benefits for host organizations as well.

Understanding the Conference Experience

Many VISTA members are initially reluctant to attend conferences. Often they have never attended a conference before and do not understand what they gain to benefit from attending. Additionally, VISTAs sometimes equate the Pre-Service Orientation (PSO) with a conference, which couldn't be farther from the truth.

Conferences provide a number of benefits, but it probably is the best, and sometimes the only, opportunity for VISTA members to meet a broad and diverse representation of people working within or related to their field of work. Serving deeply within their own organization, conferences offer the opportunity for VISTAs to acquire much greater width and depth in their understanding of their field of work.

These opportunities take many different forms and allow VISTA members a wide diversity of interaction. Most conferences are built upon standard presentations in which an individual or small group of people present to an audience. This, while educational, often is one of the least interesting and productive parts of a conference. Instead, there are many possibilities for meeting face to face, individually with leading practitioners or individuals working on interesting or applicable projects. Between sessions, at meals, at bars, clubs or parties, conference offer a great opportunities to make fun and personal connections with other people in the field. Conferences often take the form of "blowing off steam".

Meeting People at Conferences

VISTA members often do not realize it, but the work they are doing is usually cutting edge or intensely applicable to other people in the field. Introducing yourself as an AmeriCorps*VISTA will often times elicit recognition and special treatment. Many VISTAs have met people who have found them grants, resources, career advice, future employment or free drinks.

Bring business cards, promotional materials and be willing to talk to strangers.

Making Presentations

We highly, enthusiastically recommend that VISTA members take every opportunity to present at conferences.

Financing a Conference

As part of the application process, the Transmission Project encourages host organizations to budget for their VISTA to attend a conference. Often times VISTA members will attend with their supervisor.

This should include:

  • ''Airfare''- Booking at least three weeks before (or earlier) provides the best prices. Also, please schedule flights so that VISTAs can attend the entire conference, even allowing for "book ends" in which the VISTA can attend pre- or post-conference events.

  • ''Hotel'' - We highly recommend that VISTAs stay in the conference hotel. This is most convenient as this is where conference activities are taking place, or departing from. Additionally this avoids placing the VISTA in a dangerous neighborhood or requiring additional transportation expense. VISTAs usually can find a roommate with another VISTA in order to split costs, though hotel rooms should be booked very early in order to receive a reduced conference rate.

  • ''Reimbursements or Per-Diem'' - VISTA members are already living at a low fixed-income and so effort should be taken to not make conferences a financial liability. We recommend VISTAs are either reimbursed for meals not covered by the conference and transportation (shuttle or taxi from airport to hotel) or receive a per diem (usually about $40 per day). Receipt retention procedures should be discussed prior to the conference.

Finding the right Conference

Ask your supervisor, coworkers, fellow DASCorps members, your leaders, or Transmission Project staff for their suggestions on conferences that they think will benefit your work. Try to attend a conference earlier on during your year of service so you can take advantage of the contacts you have made. Also, the Transmission Project keeps a list of events on their website.