Brihi Joshi

I got the opportunity to attend The Twelfth International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (WSDM) that was held in Melbourne, Australia from 11th February to 15th February. For the past one year, I have been working on the problem of detecting collusive blackmarket activities on Twitter, and this work got accepted at WSDM. Being the first author, I was required to present my work at the conference, and being an undergraduate, this was the first time I was attending one! The conference had several kinds of sessions – oral presentations, workshops, tutorials, doctoral consortium and after-event networking sessions. The ones that I liked the most were the oral presentations and the Doctoral consortium. Thanks to the ACM-W award, I was contacted by the conference chairs and asked about my interests. When I reverted by telling that I was interested in pursuing higher studies, they asked the Doctoral Consortium Chairs to accommodate me as an external observer. I was introduced to several PhD scholars from around the world and the interesting problems statements that they were working on. In fact, I was also asked to write detailed reviews on their presentations (based on my limited knowledge) and ask them questions to understand the topics. I also got the chance to establish contact with them even after the conference! The best thing about WSDM is that it follows the single-track presentation format. Thus, all the oral presentations were taking place in the same room. I got exposed to a variety of research domains, and some of the approaches explained by the presenters inspired me to think about my own research problems from a new perspective. During my presentation, I explained my approach and methodology, along with the motivation for my research problem, to a lot of people who came to my poster stand. They questioned me on various aspects of my work — which made me more confident while presenting my work. This was also the time when I got to present my work to some of the most renowned researchers in my field — people whom I had only been following via their work. Some researchers who visited my stand were also interested in long-term research collaborations with my lab, and also provided valuable suggestions and improvements to my work. WSDM 2019 also saw hiring booths established by several research companies. The employment and internship opportunities gained from WSDM were plenty! I stayed in touch with the professors I met in the conference and the connection now established will assist me in my application period for a PhD soon. I also got to apply for a research intern position at 3 of the companies that came to the conference. Apart from the hiring, I had detailed discussions with the Research professionals in the industry about how they incorporate academic research into their products and make it scalable to a larger audience. WSDM 2019 proved to be a very productive visit for me and proved to be an experience of a lifetime. I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks to the ACM-W committee for allowing me to visit WSDM!