Are you involved in a professional association for your field? Being involved in an organization is a great way to stay current in best practices as well as network with others and share ideas.
In 2013, I moved from Memphis to Minneapolis, as my partner’s company was relocating. Not only was I job-searching in a new area, but I knew very few people. A friend encouraged me right away to join the Minnesota College Professionals Association (MCPA), as it is a local chapter of a national organization. After attending my first MCPA conference in 2014, I decided to join the conference planning committee to gain some new skills and get to know more people. With my skills in proofreading, I worked on compiling the conference program booklet and helped put together a mobile app for attendees who wanted to be more sustainable. I was happy doing these tasks for four years. In 2018, I was recognized by the team for the years I had put into the conference. The recognition was magnified when we realized (just a week or two before the conference) that the mobile app we were using had suddenly added significant fees that our small conference would not be able to cover. In a matter of days, I took all the content from the app and booklet and transformed it into a mobile-friendly website. At the 2018 conference, I was recognized for my contributions and strongly encouraged to apply to be a conference co-chair.
In my current role as the MCPA conference co-chair for the 2019 and 2020 fall conferences, I lead the conference committee, as well as serve as a liaison between the committee and the board of directors. My co-chair and I work together to keep everyone on track and ensure we are meeting important deadlines in advance of the conference. We also work with vendors, sites, and other partners. There are several skills I have gained and improved from serving in this capacity, and a number I am still working on. These range from leadership and budget management skills, to risk assessment and management during uncertain times. These are all skills I can add to my resume and use in my full-time position.
As an introverted person, serving as a conference co-chair has been one of the most difficult and uncomfortable things I have ever done. But I wouldn’t take it back, as it has taken me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. If you’re hesitating to get involved because you “don’t feel ready”, take the leap. Or even a small step. You never know where it may lead.
View Career Service’s resources on online and offline networking: https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/careerservicescenter/networking/home
Need help finding Professional Associations for your field? Use CareerOneStop’s tool: https://www.careeronestop.org/Toolkit/Training/find-professional-associations.aspx
Written by Internship Advisor, Katy Peper