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4 Things You Should Know Before Working at an Association

Every association strives to make a change and keep its members satisfied. So, with that in mind, here’s what you should know before deciding to work at an association.

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Considering working for an association? Of course you are. I mean, why wouldn’t you? Associations are highly valuable, hard working, and selfless organizations that would move mountains for their members. Not to mention how amazing every association’s team is. We’ve blogged about our love for associations in the past, and it’s clear that there’s a lot to admire and respect about an association and its members. So, choosing to work for an association just makes sense to us.

But, what should you consider before working at an association?

Just like any other company, working at an association takes research and understanding beforehand. You want to be prepared and know what to expect before diving into a new career with an association of your choice. While every association is different, many of them share similar traits when it comes to work ethic and beliefs. Think of it this way, every association strives to make a change and keep its members satisfied. So, with that in mind, here’s what you should know before deciding to work at an association.

1. It’s hard work

It’s no secret that working for an association is a lot of work. Most association’s teams can attest to late nights and exhausting hours in order to make things happen for their mission and their members. No matter what job you look for within an association, you can be sure that it will take dedication and hard work to succeed and flourish in your position. Let’s take event planning for example. Almost every association relies on events to drive up member engagement and create a general buzz of excitement. And not to mention, they’re an amazing source of non-dues revenue.

However, planning and executing a great event takes a ton of work. 48% of event marketers start planning events at least 6-12 months prior to the event itself. That’s right- it can take an entire year to get an event just right. And every month spent planning event is full of diligent work. Let’s say you’re looking to work in the membership side of associations, such as a membership management position. Managing members and getting them to renew every season takes a lot of persistence. You need to constantly work on strengthening the relationship between your association and its members to ensure their member loyalty. Before you decide to work at an association, be sure you’re ready to put in the work it takes in order to keep members happy and make a difference. If you can dedicate the work, you can see the rewards in working with an association.

2. Being a “people person” helps

If you’re someone who enjoys meeting new people, having new conversations, and making new connections, working at an association is definitely for you. Working at an association guarantees the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. It could be a young professional just starting their career journey, or an experienced executive looking to promote growth in their field. Whatever the case, you can be sure to see many types of people interested in your association’s membership. Communication is one of the most important aspects in any association. Without a healthy stream of communication, associations can lose track of their members, decreasing their engagement rates. This is why successful associations  keep a variety of communication channels available to members.

If you like communicating, working at an association will provide plenty. You’ll find yourself sending out email updates and networking back and forth, overall strengthening your member’s connection with the association. You’ll also be able to network with and through your association’s designated social media channels. Reaching out to members on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter will allow you to meet member’s needs and really get to know who you’re serving. And finally, you’ll have the opportunity to hear and relate to the stories of your association’s members.

Connecting with members and learning about their needs and goals will only remind you how rewarding it is to be with an organization that focuses on helping others. It’s a selfless position that boosts people and helps them succeed at their goals. So, if you’re someone that identifies as a “people person”, working at an association is the job for you.

3. Be prepared to learn

If you thought your days of learning were behind you, think again. Associations are constantly changing and keeping up with trends in order to keep their members satisfied. And in order to keep up with trends, association teams need to be open to learning. Let’s think about the fast-paced world of technology. New technology is being introduced and used every single year. Because of this, consumers want the companies they work with to be up-to-date and tech savvy in order to stay ahead of trends and provide the most advanced services. Now, let’s talk about the uprise of a younger generation. By 2025, it’s estimated that Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. That means three quarters of the world’ workforce will be dominated by a younger generation. If you think that’s alarming, you should know that Generation Z isn’t that far behind. HR Voice reports that by the year 2020, 20% of Generation Z will make up the entire workforce.

So, why is this important? Well, keeping up with a younger generation means educating yourself on what their wants and needs are. Many associations are constantly worried about appealing to a younger audience. Because of this, they strive to educate themselves on the best methods and strategies to engage and recruit younger members. If you’re looking to work at an association, you have to be open to the idea of learning and staying on top of industry updates and any other valuable trend changes.

4. It’s not just a job, it’s a community

Last on the list, but certainly not least, you should know- a job at an association isn’t just a job, it’s a position within a community. One of the best parts about working with an association is knowing that everyone involved truly cares about their mission. Their goal is to reach out and help their community and members grow towards a bigger and brighter future. When you sign on to work at an association, no matter the position you take, you’re signing up for a chance to help make a difference. You’ll also start to create long-lasting relationships with other association professionals.

Attending events like ASAE’s Annual Meeting and any of your association’s conferences will allow you to network with people in the same line of work with similar interests. Keeping these connections alive will open the door to meaningful communication and possibly even partnerships with other organizations. Many association professionals can agree that their work also feeds into the passion they have for helping others. It’s a great position to thrive in a community of like-minded people all working towards the same goals.

If you’ve been thinking about working at an association, or if you currently work at an association and need a pleasant reminder of the good that you do, here’s what to know. We hope that anyone looking to work for or with an association considers the value and benefits of the work done. Consider a career in association work and see how it can change your life for the better.