Professional Associations - Worth Your Time?

Twelve years ago, I moved to Victoria to attend Royal Roads University and change my career towards Information Technology. The first thing I noticed about Victoria is that there are a lot of people who have been born, grew up and are still here – a completely foreign concept to me from my prior lifestyle of moving every two years. However when you live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it’s easy to see why people stay, much like I have now.

My membership and involvement with professional organizations started immediately after the completion of my program at Royal Roads University, and for completely different reasons as to why I am involved with professional groups now. Back then as someone who was first embarking on a brand new career and who did not know anyone in the industry, I joined a couple of associations (CIPS-BC and VIATeC) for networking opportunities in my job search. And thus began many years of involvement at different levels with many professional associations.

Reason to join a professional association

  • Student memberships generally are more cost effective
  • Looks great on a resume
  • Networking opportunities during the social or seminar events
  • The speakers at the events tend to be the experts in your field
  • Access to hear what other organizations are doing
  • Keeps you up to date on developments in your field
  • Access to free or ‘nearly’ free training
  • Hey, sometimes you walk away with free stuff!

Reason to participate on the board of directors

As my career progressed along, I became involved on the Board of the Victoria Oracle Users Group and worked with the team in planning events as large as a 3 day symposium to an afternoon speaker. Being involved on the Board I quickly grew to know the Oracle community, what their challenges were (and yes, we all had pretty much the same challenges), and what large projects were underway in the province of BC. Essentially, my IT network expanded exponentially and being that these were the days before LinkedIn and even Facebook, getting the opportunity to learn from some of the Masters in the field was invaluable. More importantly, having this type of access reconfirmed my passion for my chosen field.

Eventually, I left the days of being a technician behind me and joined the management ranks, as well as joining another Board of Directors for the BC Branch of itSMF (IT Service Management Forum). Being the President for this professional association has given me access to speakers and leaders in my field across Canada. I often hear about job opportunities directly from company leaders or potential projects that might be coming up. As well as have the ability to give our membership access to resources as they become available.

You may be thinking that volunteering or attending an association seminar is yet another time commitment on top of all the other commitments you have yet to get to. Think of it as investing in your career path, much as if you had chosen to take a training course. More importantly, you need to ask yourself if you are still excited by what you do – it the answer is no, perhaps it’s time to meet up with like-minded people in your career filed and recharge again.

Professional associations I have participiated in / am a member of / or associated with at some point

There are many associations which generally have local chapters in your area, below is a compilation of the ones I have associated with at some level over the years.

  • itSMF (IT Service Management Forum)
  • PMI (Project Management Institute)
  • IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis)
  • HelpDeskBC
  • ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association)
  • VIATeC (Victoria Advanced Technology Council)
  • CIPS BC (Canadian Information Processing Society)
  • VicOUG (Victoria Oracle Users Group)

So, are you still excited by your job? Do you go to work thinking about creative solutions you have heard from a peer? Do you know which career path may be the next one you want to take? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, I recommend attending or getting involved with a professional association!