Tuesday, December 27, 2011

9 reasons to join a Professional Organization

During the holiday season, I am re-posting an article from my previous blog.

Today I want to bring my blog back to STEM. Specifically, engineering professional organizations.

Why join a professional organization?

1) To network with other people who do similar work.

A professional organization provides opportunities to meet people outside your workplace who do similar work. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the industry, other businesses, and the legal, economic, and political climate.

Additionally, a professional organization may provide contacts for people who work in other divisions of your company, that you wouldn't come across in your normal job.

2) To learn more about one's profession.

Professional organizations are an excellent way for students to learn more about a potential career field before they are in it. This can also be a resource for identifying mentors.

Additionally, professional organizations publish magazines and journals with articles about the career field.

3) For opportunities to serve the community and inspire others.

If it wasn't clear from my blog, STEM outreach is very important to me. Educators call on professional organizations on a regular basis, asking for volunteer in outreach events. Many professional organizations also have outreach committees to actively go out and plan events in the community.

4) To develop leadership skills.

Ever feel caught in a Catch-22, where you can't get hired for a leadership position because you don't have experience, and you can't get the experience because you can't get hired in a leadership position?

The local professional organizations are often run by a small group of committed people, who are always happy to find people willing to jump in. Whether it's a short-term commitment for a single activity, or a long-term commitment to planning and running an event, professional organizations will be happy to take what you're willing to give. In return, you have the opportunity to practice and demonstrate your leadership skills in a supportive environment.

5) For opportunities to meet leaders in one's business and field.

Another type of event that professional organizations love to host is one where they bring in a relevant speaker. This may be a local business leader, a regional or national leader of the organization, or an expert on a relevant topic. Depending on the size and time constraints of the event, attendees may have the opportunity to converse with the speaker before or after the presentation.

6) For opportunities to advance your career.

Remember all those professionals, business leaders, educators, and experts that the organization has allowed you to meet? Remember all that leadership experience you gained, running organization events? Do good work, and they will remember you too.

Here is one article on how.

7) To provide local contacts when you relocate.

I've moved almost as many times as my age. One of the first lessons I learned about moving to a new location is: Get involved, Get involved, Get involved.

One of the best ways to adjust and feel connected to a new community is by meeting people, developing a network, and making friends. The more, the merrier, up to a point. Certainly you need to have priorities in your life, and you can't do everything. But you can meet a lot of people while you figure out which activities you want to stick with.

8) For opportunities to Tinker

One of the things that engineers do, is engineers design things to be built. To be a good designer, it helps to have practiced building those things. In an earlier blog entry, I wrote about how I haven't felt like I have had / made use of opportunities to practice building those things.

Well, I'm getting involved with a professional organization, and that is changing FAST.

9) To have fun together.

All work and no play... People enjoy a good laugh, a good joke, time to relax and play games, time to share a meal together. Certainly professional organizations have to strike a balance, and most of the meetings and discussions will be about professional things. But there is a time and a place to have fun too.

(with inspiration from Jobweb)