August 30, 2008

Why Do YOU Work for Associations?

So I was communicating with my brother recently by text message, our new preferred way of communicating now that I have a bigger cell plan, and I was telling him about an exciting interview I had just done with one of our very high ranking and important members who is a high ranking executive for a professional sports team.

He texted me back "why don't you use all of these connections you have to work for a professional sports team?" (shocking considering he is a sports writer and blogger...) I texted him back saying "because I work in associations, and I WANT to work in associations for my career."

I cannot type his expletive-laced response here for fear that it will turn off my earliest readers, but I'll just say that he let me have it about my assertion that I want to work in the association world for my career.

I guess I just don't get it... I have a love for association work. He has a love for writing, designing newspaper pages, and talking about sports. To each his own, right?

Personally, my reasoning for working in associations is that I get tremendous satisfaction out of knowing that I am making a difference for the members, for helping to develop the next batch of leaders through my words that I write on paper and in cyberspace, as well as the work I am doing elsewhere in the association. And I think I'm darn good at what I do... What's wrong with that? Plus, the added bonus is that I have been able to make personal connections with some of our highest ranking members, AND made personal connections between those members, which enhances their positive feelings about the association. These are things I am passionate about - helping people find the value in the organization for which I work, and feeling like I am doing something that is bettering others.

Have you ever had anyone ask you why you're working in the association or non-profit world? What has been your response?


Maddie Grant said...

I used to get asked this all the time, mainly in the context of "why would you keep working in an industry where you get paid sh*t and are totally exploited, when you could be doing so much more in the for-profit world?" But I worked for a huge corporation, and despite the great benefits and perks I was never able to feel like I wasn't just a cog in the machine. In the association world, I could really think for myself, and I could create my own job description to some extent, as I was lucky to be in such a microstaff association that I could just try things out and think strategically. 'Course now, I've grown way out of the job and the stars aligned so I could start my own business, but I still feel that this is an industry that is welcoming, easy to navigate, and will continue to do great things...

Plus, I have made some amazing friends and have been able to create a space where that can happen for others who are young to the industry. Technology builds community!

Bruce Hammond said...

Thanks a lot for your insights Maddie. I agree that it seems as though there are a lot of opportunities working for associations to get your hands in a lot of things and not feel like a cog in the machine.

Thanks for sharing!