“IEEE membership is a waste of time and money”.
This was the first review I heard in 2008 when I asked my college seniors about joining IEEE.
Today, into my 13th year as an IEEE member, it remains the biggest BS I ever heard. And this is coming from someone who used to watch Indian Reality TV.
My IEEE Journey
As kids we are taught – if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Whereas my personal philosophy has mostly been – if life gives you lemons, open a lemonade stall, sell your lemonades for Rs 10, make profit, and buy a lemon farm.
In those terms, IEEE didn’t just give me lemons. It gave me the whole lemon farm.
Starting as a student member in 2009, over the years I have had the pleasure of working in various leadership roles with various teams. From Young Professionals, to SIGHT, to MGA, to Section and Regional roles, to working with various societies – the experience has been as diverse as my learnings.
While it is impossible to compile the whole list of IEEE membership benefits into a single post, I’ll highlight the most important ones.
A Question for You
Before we get to the list of benefits, a question.
There are 3 kinds of people in the world. Which one are you?
First kind – the ones who grab every opportunity that comes their way.
Second kind – the ones create opportunities for themselves when they want to evolve further.
Third kind – the ones who fail to identify that an opportunity was even present.
The college seniors who advised me against IEEE membership were probably the third kind.
I have always been the first kind. And thanks to IEEE, I evolved into the second one.
Making the Most of Your IEEE Membership
The IEEE membership experience is different for everyone. For some it is life-changingly positive, whereas for others it is just another of 1000s of professional organizations out there. Whichever category you fall in, you are right from your perspective.
There is no right or wrong answer.
There are only experiences. And these are my learnings from my experiences.
IEEE provides you with an amazing community of mentors to choose from. To this day, this has been the single largest benefit I have received from my membership.
While some mentors have helped me grow personally, some have made a huge impact in my professional career. My very first professional mentor was my SB Counselor, who to this day, remains my role model.
2. Learning resources
IEEE provides you with a lot of learnings resources through its various publications, workshops, events, seminars/webinars, working groups, technical societies and whatnot.
For me the biggest learnings have been through my interactions with the various experienced members/professionals I have encountered in the community.
3. A like-minded community
The saying ‘birds of a feather flock together’ remains very true even in this context. My best friends, my mentees, my biker gang, my travel group, my business partners, even my life partner – I have found all of them through this community.
Never underestimate the benefits of being surrounded by high energy-highly motivated bunch of individuals. They always bring out your best.
4. Understanding the nuances of a multi-cultural team
Working in various IEEE committees, I was exposed to working with people from all across the globe – from various parts of India, USA, Canada, Australia, Indonesia, China, Argentina, Germany, etc.
While I didn’t exactly understand the importance of this at first, this skillset came into prominence when I left India to work in Australia, where the workforce is highly multicultural. I could adjust with the work culture with ease.
5. Building your leadership skills
Personally, I have never been a good leader. And honestly, neither am I one today. But working with different teams, leading projects and getting people to work together towards a common goal has improved my skillset towards becoming a better leader.
6. Going global
Volunteering within a global organization like IEEE, with its local units (SBs, subsections, sections, society chapters, etc.) gives you an overarching understanding about how global ideologies and processes can be implemented at a local level. And vice versa.
This mental understanding will do you a lot of good professionally too.
7. Evolving as an individual
It is difficult for me to pen down how IEEE has helped me grow as an individual, and the support system it has created for me. While some benefits have been tangible, majority’s have been intangible.
How can I pen down the value my mentors have created in furthering my career?
How do I enumerate on the confidence I have imbibed by the ton of speaking opportunities I have received?
How can I convey the relief I had when I moved to Australia from India, and there was an IEEE community here who welcomed me with arms open on day 1?
Some things can never be described by words. And there are a lot of such life changing experiences I have received within the IEEE community.
About the Author
Vijay S Paul is a Communications Professional, Content Strategist, Blogger, Business Speaker & Ex-Entrepreneur. He is the Founder of Typewriter.Media, a blog/consultancy service, where he writes about Strategic & Internal Communications and Content Strategy.
An IEEE member for 12 years, he is presently the Communications Manager for IEEE Victorian Section, Global Communications Chair for IEEE TEMS, and member of the R10 Information Management Committee.
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/vijayspaul/
Blog – https://typewriter.media/
Email – email@example.com