As I have moved through the association management industry, I have had the opportunity to work in various roles and with a wide range of industries. When I first began my career, I was working on one association only, serving as a community liaison for a very active online membership. As I progressed through my career, I had more opportunities to engage with other associations. The opportunity to engage with other associations was what solidified my desire to make this a career. It also showed me the quickest path to gaining the skills and knowledge to advance within the association management industry.
I am biased, but I have always said working within an association management company (AMC) is the best job. Why? You are given variety and opportunities to make positive impacts on several industries. You also meet a lot of great people doing great work on behalf of their associations. If I had the opportunity to give my younger self-advice from the outset of my career, it would be to embrace the opportunities and to engage across the broad number of associations within your AMC. Gain exposure to different membership programs and the value they seek from their campaigns and offerings. See how different conferences, meetings and events are held. This type of broad experience early in your career will give you the foundation you need to jumpstart your career in an AMC.
Another piece of advice I would give my younger self is, to be honest about where you need to grow professionally. If given the opportunity to attend a conference like ASAE or a regional SAE, use it to challenge yourself. Do not follow a crowd of colleagues to a session or attend a session on a subject you have experience within. If financials are not a strong suit for you, get into sessions to learn about them. Be honest with yourself about your development needs.
I would tell my younger self to build mentor relationships, whether within your company or outside of it. The association management industry is full of great individuals looking to support the careers of their colleagues. Finding a mentor to support your professional growth can be rewarding not only when it comes to advancing your skills but also with building your professional network.
As you advance into roles with more responsibilities, you will face decisions and situations that test your knowledge and patience. Having a trusted colleague to be a sounding board or just a friendly ear to vent is extremely valuable. It can be the difference between making a snap decision or just keeping you sane during a busy stretch.
While I cannot go back in time and tell myself what I have learned, I can pass it on to the community that I am so happy to be a part of.
If you are interested in learning more about the AMC industry, its foundation and how it works, the team at Talley Management Group, Inc. is happy to help. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us on LinkedIn.