November 9, 2009

Advice for People Looking to Get into Association Management

This week, the national unemployment rate went over 10%, just another example of how the economy is still in its recovery phase. It's tough for people out there, and it just seems like it's hitting every aspect of the job market, including associations.

However, in taking a quick look at the job board on ASAE's web site, and on the Association Forum of Chicagoland's web site, there are over 200 open positions looking for qualified people to fill them. The job market in associations is certainly not as barren as some areas.

So, as I was thinking about the job market and the association world, I thought about the career advice that I have received in the past. As I've come up, I have received a lot of great career advice, and have tried my best to provide some good advice to current students who are trying to find jobs as they are entering the workforce.

So, my question to you is: what's the best career advice you've ever received, whether it's specific to association management or your chosen niche within the field? If someone asked you today what are the three biggest qualities that they need to be successful in finding a job with an association, what would you tell them?

Looking forward to your comments.


Ellen said...

Many years ago I was running a one-person resume business in downtown Richmond, VA (yes, back in the days before people could write and print their own resumes on their own computers). My clients ranged from circus performers to military personnel to Secret Service to teachers to retail clerks to high-end executives.

I was weighing the offer to move up in the organization and mentioned it to a corporate VP. I can still see him leaning against the doorframe, his tie loosened, his suit jacket over the back of a chair.

He said, "I have a wife with a matching Mercedes, two kids in private schools, a house on the river. Sometimes all I want to do is sell it all, get a sailboat, and sail around the world."

"Wow!" I said. Who was better able to do that than he was? "Why don't you?"

He shook his head and looked out the window at the Richmond skyline. "My wife can't imagine leaving that house. My kids are very attached to their school and friends...."

Obviously he wasn't happy with his job or he wouldn't have been getting his resume updated.

Then he looked me in the eye and said, "With every move you make, think about where it's taking you and whether you can undo it if you need to. Don't ever get yourself into a position where you realize too late that you can't get out of it."

Because of his advice, I've never made a career change that didn't benefit me in the long run in some way, each block building on another, and every one of them providing more options when I was ready to leave than when I started in the first place.

Looking forward to seeing the advice others have taken through their careers!

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