If you told me at my college graduation that I would have a job at an association a little over a year later, I would have responded with a very confused look and many questions. As an English major, I had tested out a few different career paths through internships in my quest to determine my ultimate passion, but associations weren’t on my radar. It was pure luck that brought me to my current position at the American Alliance of Orthopaedic Executives (AAOE).
As a young professional, I couldn’t be happier with the opportunities that exist at an association when starting your career. More young professionals should be aware of associations and steer towards this field intentionally. And those who already have association jobs should do everything they can to make the most of it.
Here’s why I would tell more young professionals to consider this field.
Opportunities to Get Involved
I started at AAOE about a month before our annual conference. Right away, I had the chance to dive in head first. To my excitement (and maybe nervousness), being new didn’t put me on the sidelines. Even though I vividly remember needing to ask for the definition of something as basic as a general session, I was able to jump right in and learn quickly as I went along.
There are many articles and resources available about Millennials in the workplace, but I think a major pain point that associations are uniquely positioned to address is young professionals’ desire to be in a position where their work matters and they have a purpose. You’re truly able to get involved and work towards your association’s mission and goal.
Experiencing New Projects and Roles
My resume basically consisted of a few internships before starting at my current job, and no position was identical to the others. It’s not uncommon for young professionals to still be “figuring it out” and defining their career path. While working at a small staff association, I’ve worked with different departments and taken on projects that might not fit exactly into the defined lines of my initial job description.
Most young professionals could benefit from experiencing different roles and departments to get a better feel for their strengths and interests. It quickly teaches you the importance of flexibility, teamwork, and constant learning. You’re able to continue to challenge yourself and grow.
Becoming a Member
Another great benefit has been realizing the importance of becoming a member of an association for my own professional development. Young professionals who are members of ISAE now have an exciting opportunity through the new Young Professionals Group. The meetup earlier this month included helpful information about earning your CAE, and I look forward to upcoming meetings to continue to connect and learn alongside my peers in this industry.