Tuesday, 9 December 2014

There's No Life Like It: Associations!

When you were a child, did you say to yourself, "I think I want to work in associations when I grow up"?  If you're like most MarCommers who gathered for our October session - young or more (ahem) seasoned - you fell into association work by opportunity not by design.

Our session, "Young Professionals in Association Communications," included a reach into the young professionals (YP) group of CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau in order to provide a multi-generational look at association communications work.  Through a round table discussion, all participants (YPs and senior professionals [SPs]) shared in a lively conversation about association communications/marketing/membership careers - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Not one person present arrived at their association position having had a career counsellor say, "Association work is a path you should consider."  All arrived at their first association either as a recent graduate in search of a welcome pay-cheque or as a student in a work placement role.  Most have never left.

When you consider the collective years of experience around the table - closing in on 200 years of association experience - it is clear that this is a career that more people should consider.  Association work can be a stopping point on a career map but it can also be a career.

Together, we discussed our varied paths to association work and what has kept us here (flexibility, ability to achieve, grow into roles, try new things, etc.), as well as what the positive rewards are for staying (immediate feedback, inspiring volunteers, and the ability to see an idea from drawing board to reality).

Given that this was an intergenerational group, we asked YPs what SPs could be doing to help them in our organizations.  All YPs said that the gift of time is most beneficial; that is, taking the time to review what has been done and to help YPs understand what the corporate values are.  Second, they stressed the ability to let go and let YPs try new things - not all of which will work out - and having the grace to accept failure when it happens.

Turning the table, the SPs were asked what the look for in YPs when they are hiring or considering promotions.  Attitude was cited as the most valued trait in any new hire or promotion; this valued trait applies to all generations.  Given that associations seem to be chronically understaffed, the ability to see and the attitude to do what needs to be accomplished and to make it happen are key for any generation of employee.

All YPs present indicated their intent to remain in the association environment, at least for now.  This is good news for associations!  Those with more years of experience reinforced the values that had kept them in the association world for their careers: adaptability, the ability to be creative and problem solve (with its own rewards), and community.  For YPs to hear a number of SPs indicate that association work can be a lifelong career path must be reassuring at this point in their journey.  YPs are eager to learn and be mentored, so SPs need to embrace this mentoring opportunity and remember to let go at times, which isn't always easy!  Both generations have valuable contributions to make to the success of our organizations.  Let's not forget this important point.

Did you know?  The MarComm group meets the second Tuesday of every month.  We encourage all generations to participate.  Watch CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau event listings for meeting notices/topics.

A BIG thank you to Jennifer Hagen, with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, for submitting this article.  We appreciate all that you do!

 Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No comments:

Post a Comment