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Industry associations and the developing professional

January 20, 2021

Joining an industry association or professional organization leads to diverse opportunities for the developing professional

We all know how important connections are—not only those within your own company, but also connections to other colleagues in the field. Industry associations are one solution that can provide valuable networking opportunities, access to thought leadership publications, opportunities for professional development, and awards and recognition.

The challenge? It’s often difficult or intimidating to take the first step, to get involved.

Stantec’s Developing Professionals Group (DPG)—although focused on developing community connections with peers and leadership—also supports Stantec employees who are navigating the broader professional community. The DPG is dedicated to making those first overtures and later commitments easy for employees, especially for those starting out in their career. This could mean raising awareness about opportunities or connecting the employee with a senior leader who’s already involved.

Musing on their involvement with the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), DPG members Rachel Cranford (DPG Canada lead and project manager) and Katie Burau (project manager) shared their thoughts on industry associations and the value they can bring to burgeoning careers.

"I had just moved to Sudbury from Phoenix and was looking to make friends and connections in the local mining industry," says Katie, now a part of the executive board of her local CIM chapter and an inclusion and diversity committee member of the national CIM organization.

Rachel had a similar experience. "I was early into my career and didn't have a ton of connections or industry knowledge, and I kept seeing my colleagues attend these events, so I went." Rachel is entering her third year as Mining Week committee chair and tenth year as an active member of her local CIM chapter.

Industry associations are often cited for their ability to help expand professional networks and technical skills, but the unanticipated benefits are what keep active members like Rachel and Katie involved in their local chapters. "You join for the industry knowledge and networking opportunities, but you stay for the community," says Katie.

For Katie, the biggest benefits besides exposure to topics she would not have otherwise come across are the opportunities to get involved in the community and build connections within the industry that pay dividends down the road. "Being able to call on your friends through a professional organization when you need technical help or have a question about how an organization runs or what technologies other companies are using, is invaluable."  Katie has built connections with fellow members, only to find them sitting at her client meeting the next day. “You start to recognize people and get to know them in a different setting, so when you see them in your meeting, you already have that relationship built, which can only serve to strengthen business development efforts.”

There are two standout benefits for Rachel: the built-in support system and the opportunity to think creatively. “You have a personal cheer squad with no distractions, only the motivation to watch each other succeed.” Adding to this, having the opportunity to plan and execute events and volunteer for the community provided Rachel with project management skills well before she ever needed them at Stantec. "Being a consultant, you’re most often asked to think analytically, but when you engage in the professional community, you gain exposure to new personalities, work through different kinds of objectives, and learn how to think creatively."

Industry associations host workshops, webinars, mixers, and conferences to foster a growth mindset that advances and strengthens industries and client relations. These opportunities accelerate career development, and Stantec is proud to support our people as they explore what these organizations have to offer.

Rachel’s and Katie’s advice for anyone thinking of joining an industry association is simple: show up. “If an invite is extended your way, take it. If you know a colleague is a member, tag along. The connections you make are irreplaceable. You don’t have to jump in with both feet and sit on a committee; you can simply be an active member. You won’t regret it.”

Stantec’s Developing Professionals Group is always looking for ways to improve the careers and connections of our people—and in the long term, expanding your community is one of the best ways to find new ideas and opportunities for growth. 

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