What to Expect When You Work for an Association

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A recent article in the career section of the ASAE website explores the ins and outs of the career paths available in the association industry. We’ve highlighted some key points in the excerpts below.

In many ways, working for an association is different from working in other types of organizations. Here are a few characteristics that set them apart from the for-profit and government sectors.

They’re mission-driven. Every association has a deeply held reason for being. An example of a mission is “to build a nation of learners by advancing community colleges” (the American Association of Community Colleges).

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To fulfill its nonprofit mission, the association works to recruit more members, increase conference registrations, sell more products and services, etc.

You don’t have to be personally committed to an association’s mission to work there. But a healthy and genuine interest will help you get hired and contribute more fully.

Volunteers provide the fuel. Governing every association is a board of directors who usually come from the profession or industry. Additionally, member volunteers play a major role.

For association employees, working with volunteers means tapping their enthusiasm, coordinating their work to advance the association’s goals, and respecting and thanking them for their contributions.

It’s all about the niche. Associations are established because individuals or businesses share a specific interest. For example, a dentist may belong to the American Dental Association. But his or her needs may be better served by an association for dentists who specialize in orthodontia.

If you are hired at an association, no one is likely to expect you to be an expert in dentistry or orthodontia. But you will need to learn and understand your members’ specific challenges and interests.

Many employees get deeply involved in the association world. Professionals who work in associations often find themselves planning their calendars around their annual convention—a major event in the life of staff and members. And many join associations that match their own interests, putting on the member hat and working in a different way toward a mission that makes the world a better place.

Employment with a purpose. When you work for an association, you won’t just be making a living. You’ll be making a difference.

Source:  Association Career HQ / ASAE

SEE ALSO: The Secret to Hiring for a Culture Fit


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