Writing about the Millennial generation has become a popular Internet pastime – but how much of the information we get on this trendy topic is accurate?
It may make for splashy article titles, but assigning an entire generation one-size-fits-all personality traits is a stretch of the imagination. Far from fitting the lazy, entitled stereotypes often used to portray Millennials, I’m more likely to identify with the values of the Silent generation. I have a deeply rooted internal drive to prove I’m worthy of any workplace praise I may receive, not to mention my seeming inability to circle the top score on self-evaluations. So if those workplace stereotypes don’t fit me as a Millennial, what other assumptions might we have about this generation that are untrue?
Continuing the theme we began last Monday regarding generational cohorts, as delineated by Mary Meeker’s Internet trends report, I’m going to look at how membership in professional associations fits into the expanded view of the work/life balance that’s part of the Millennial identity and outlook.
Here are three ways association membership can assist Millennials in their quest for professional self-development:
1. Association membership can give your resume power.
More than likely you’ll make an organization shift every so many years. According to a survey done by Deloitte, two out of every three Millennials hope to move on from their current employer by 2020, which is positive for everyone concerned. A culture of fluid job movement creates a workforce with experience in different company environments, broadened professional networks, and well-rounded career skills. But to make a move that advances your career – as opposed to one that just changes where you work – you’ll need a resume that helps you stand out from the rest. Your resume will have more power if you can list credentials that show you’re not only dedicated to but are informed about your profession. Being part of a professional association is a great step in that direction – it shows you do your homework and take your work seriously. Association membership is an easy way to stay informed on the latest developments in your industry. If you can share industry insights and updates with managers over a morning cup of coffee, you’ll improve your upward mobility in that organization and beyond.
2. We should count association membership among the many ways we can continue to grow and expand our minds.
As I compare notes with fellow young professionals, I find many of us lament that our studies weighed heavily on theory versus practical application. The professional world requires proof of knowledge and skillsets, which can feel overwhelming if you spent your senior year writing a paper on whether you identified more with Achilles or Hector (I’m not knocking antiquity here – Classical Culture was my minor.) Attending conferences recommended by a professional association is an opportunity to talk with knowledgeable people, take notes, and follow up on vocabulary or concepts you hadn’t yet fully incorporated. Better yet, you can ask friends in your association to walk you through the process of acquiring new expertise! Networking is a natural consequence of interacting with people with areas of competence outside your own. A regional conference hosted by your association is a great way to network, and we all know the power of a strong reference letter from a friend or associate. Attending professional association meetings in your area is a win on multiple levels. You get to socialize with people who understand what you’re going through at work while also gaining important resources for making informed career decisions.
3. Association membership can help you acquire knowledge you didn’t get in college.
Most of us enter different trajectories than what we envisioned when enrolling in our first year of college. Our interests change over time and what we desire from a career can shift drastically. When I was a 20 year-old imagining working at an advertising agency, the idea of all-nighters and early mornings seemed barely worth noting. Now at 25, I can attest that working till 8 pm sometimes finds me nodding off. So if you’re one of many who have found yourself on a career path different from what you anticipated, there’s no reason to fret. In the same way I use the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast to fill me in on historical happenings like The Great Emu War, the professional development your association offers will give you the opportunity to gain new proficiencies and keep yourself relevant and informed. Even if your professional association doesn’t offer its own PD, members can give you recommendations from their career experience.
So if you want to take advantage of a group of supportive, knowledgeable people who can guide and invest in your career, hop online and find your association today! For associations looking to engage their members online, check out our briefing guide, “7 Ways to Draw Millennial to Your Association.”