Through the maze: Careers in association management

As vice chair and then chair of the ASAE Young Association Executives Committee, I worked diligently with young/emerging professional leaders nationwide in the development of a book proposal – tentatively titled, Young Association Executive Survival Guide: What every young professional should know about the association community – focused on issues and challenges facing this important demographic.

The book was intended to reach a broad audience, including high school guidance counselors, college/university academic advisors, young/emerging association professionals and those industry veterans interested in learning more about the next generation of employees and volunteer leaders destined to shake up the association community as we know it.

After a fairly significant period of brainstorming relevant topics, organizing them into meaningful chapters and, subsequently, sections, a comprehensive book proposal was drafted. This proposal was then discussed with and pitched to ASAE staff on a variety of occasions. Ultimately, the book was not picked up, but in its place a four-part monograph series was commissioned.

Monograph one, written by four graduates of the inaugural class of ASAE’s Leadership Academy, is titled Through the maze: Careers in association management. Together, Benjamin Butz, Beau Ballinger, Jennifer Connelly and Emily Crespo – with the support and mentoring of Elizabeth Engel – provide a comprehensive introduction to the field of association management, an understanding of why millennials are needed in the association world, the different roles in association management and profiles of association management professionals.

With regard to this document, I have three simple recommendations:

  1. Read it. Commit this week to reading this document. I think you’ll find the format to be approachable, the content to be straightforward and the insights to be thoughtful. Not to mention, I think it’s fun (and fresh!) to see your profession through a different set of eyes (in this case, four authors, one mentor and eight profiles makes thirteen sets of eyes).
  2. Share it. Forward this document to your friends, colleagues, staff, members, board members and other volunteer leaders. Post it to your website, share it via your social media channels and include it in an upcoming e-newsletter. Even these small steps will help spread the word about the remarkable profession we call association management.
  3. Modify it. Create a similar document highlighting your own profession/organization. Consider commissioning volunteer leaders, subject matter experts and even your own staff and board of directors to generate a monograph orienting young/emerging leaders to your field and it’s various career opportunities.

As previously mentioned, this document is only the beginning of a four-part series. Monograph two will dispel a variety of myths, addressing topics related to “what I wish I would have known given the chance to do it over again.” Monograph three will tackle “navigating the work place,” including advice related to climbing the career ladder. And monograph four will approach what it means to “move beyond the workplace,” considering next steps for developing your professional network and refining your personal brand.

So, my question to you is this: How does your organization promote industry-related career opportunities to high school/college students, as well as young/emerging professionals? What other creative, unique and innovative ways can you use this monograph within your own organization?

For more information about young/emerging professional issues and interests, “like” ASAE Young Professionals on Facebook.

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meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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