As a professional in her mid-career, I certainly don’t feel like one sometimes. I’m still discovering who I am and what my place is in this world. In some ways, I could say I’m like a young professional at heart, eager to learn and explore. I’ve always been curious, and that curiosity has served me well thus far in my life and career.
My entry to the association world had been an accident. I had been working for credit unions and alike when I found out about the American Urological Association. I started there as an assistant, went onto become an associate and then finally a society coordinator. The whole time, I was asking myself, “What is this association world?” I’d ask questions, but never really found a solid mentor to explain how to move forward in an association.
I soon discovered that I loved membership; I love working with members and it comes naturally to me. After taking some time off to work towards a master’s degree and going into health and wellness coaching, I returned to associations by working for an association management company. I found mentors there, who helped me answer questions I had about where I am heading in my career. They told me about SURGE, and I watched the sessions from 2017 and 2018 that inspired my further growth with the association industry. From there, I just used my curiosity to keep digging and found a mentor to help pave a career path ahead.
Now I’m working on my CAE; joined 501(c) organization founded by Cecilia Sepp—where I found my mentor; and I continue to ask for projects at work to help me grow my general knowledge of what it takes to run an association. Once you start digging for the “What do I really want?”, you realize it’s not all altruistic. I found that I wanted to make a good steady wage with insurance while working a flexible job…while helping others. I truly have a passion to help others whether it’s the members I serve or the team I work with in membership. Knowing this, truly knowing this has me excited about mid stage career at 44. I love the feeling of forging this path where my coaching skills; love of people and flexible workplaces meet in harmony.
I’m grateful for a mentor who will answer the questions and also say, “You’re on the right track.” I highly suggest finding one if you’re like me—trying to discover who you are within the association but also in your mid-career. Also, keep learning. Keep being curious about the industry, people, different jobs, everything. Learning doesn’t stop, no matter what stage you’re at in your career. I’m a student of life, and I encourage you to stay curious and hungry for knowledge and to venture on a different route if you don’t find what you’re seeking where you are now…reinvent yourself, explore new paths if needed. I sincerely suggest staying happy during your journey—you are still learning and growing while exploring and gaining knowledge on how to move your life forward.