Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Benefits of Professional Membership?

The company that I work for pays for one professional membership. Last year, I attended a presentation about the American Society of Naval Engineers, and decided to join using that paid membership.

Yesterday, my department had an In Service day. We were all encouraged to attend. Many of us had a lot of work, but as our Department Head said "Your work will be waiting for you tomorrow."

I paid $10 for the catered lunch and ordered the Chicken Ceaser wrap. What I got wasn't a wrap; it was on a bun. It was decent, but I wonder how it was $10. That's beside the point. During lunch, a presentation about "The benefits of professional society membership" was to be given. I bet it was interesting, but I elected to carry my lunch back to my desk to check email and try to get a little bit of work done.




"The Benefits of Professional Society Membership" has been on my mind lately though. I'm curious what would be considered benefits of professional society membership. Do you know what I get for my ANSE membership?

  • A magazine that I don't have time to read
and
  • Tons of emails about symposiums that I don't have the money or time to attend

OH, I get access to past issues of the magazine going back to 2001, but they're hosted on another website. I have to log into ANSE and then go to the website, but each article and feature is a separate file.

This leaves me wondering, at least as an engineer at my level: Is it worth my time (and my company's reimbursement) to renew my ANSE membership for next year? I imagine for those engineers working at higher levels, with more time and larger expense accounts who can afford the time and expense to attend symposiums at least once a quarter that membership is beneficial. In my case, I'm not so sure it was worth it.

I'm not trying to bash ANSE. I'm sure for a certain target market membership is a wonderful thing, but I'm not getting anything out of it. The website looks and feels like it was coded to be a shell somewhere in 1998 with only updated graphics over the years. The website contains no resources that might be helpful to my professional development as an engineer. It contains no useful references.

I've considered joining IEEE when my ANSE membership runs out. At least IEEE has tons of resources online available to members.

I also wonder why this professional organization seems stuck in the past. With technology such as webcasting and distribution channels like YouTube and iTunes University, why don’t they attempt to record some of their symposia for those of us who can’t make it to Alexandria or Baltimore every quarter? It would be nice to be able to benefit. I’m not sure I’d want to ask for a social network, as there are plenty, but why not have resources on the website?

I can remember during the presentation that one of the concerns of ANSE is attracting the younger generation into not only engineering but also into ANSE membership. I don’t know about the 20 year olds, but even at 35 I’m not thrilled by the only real function of this professional society being symposia. Maybe it’s just me

Do you belong to a professional association? Do you get anything out of it? Do you get the feeling that your association exists only to perpetuate itself, or is some kind of "good old boys" network? Let me know in the comments. I’m honestly interested in this, and rather than listening to recruiters, I’d rather listen to members.

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