By: Clyde Parson
President, Suncoast STC
As we enjoyed Panera Bread’s outdoor seating during an Admin Council meeting a couple of months ago, I started thinking about why I belong to STC. My reasons, as would be expected, are unique to me. This means that the things which may be important to me may not be important to our overall membership.
During my recent employment search, those items that I view as important were brought into full view by way of a personality profile that I was asked to complete. It was a very interesting “test” that only required me to choose a series of single words from among twenty-four groups of words. The result was astoundingly accurate. During the interview process, the results were covered and a statement was made that I’ve continued to think about each time the Admin Council’s discussion turns to the topic of membership value.
“We don’t often come across technical writers who are as extroverted as you are.”
Since I know that I’m recharged by my alone time, I understand that I’m actually an introvert but it is nice to receive the feedback that I do as good a job with my verbal communication as my written. I do genuinely enjoy people and I can see how this combination of factors would influence what I would want from an STC membership.
I also recall an interview with a different company during the same employment search where one former long-term technical communicator turned hiring manager shared with me his preferred work method.
“I would love it if they would slide my work under the door in the morning and I could slide out the completed tasks that afternoon.”
Differences like those between myself and this hiring manager have given me reasons to seriously consider exactly why I’m a member of STC and what I hope to gain from my membership. With that in mind, here the top reasons why I belong to STC (in no particular order):
Social interaction – I used to believe that I preferred the warm glow of a computer monitor but in recent years I’ve found that I would much rather talk to someone face-to-face (never mind the fact that LCD monitors just aren’t as cozy to snuggle up with as CRT’s once were!)
Status associated with membership – Several employers during my employment search, including the one that I ultimately selected, seemed quite impressed with the fact that I was a member and the chapter president. I think this speaks to one’s personal commitment to his or her chosen profession. It says that I view this as a career rather than just another job.
Sense of belonging – As a “lone writer,” it’s nice to know that there are others who share the same concerns and issues even if they happen to work for a different employer.
Career related networking opportunities – I’ve long held the belief that the sales function is significantly influenced by how good the salesperson is at building a relationship with a prospective client. In much the same manner, the hiring process can be significantly eased by the establishment of relationships outside the interview.
Working toward a common goal – In my Suncoast leadership position, I’ve been able to experience the synergy that can take place when multiple people are all pulling in the same direction to accomplish the same goals.
Opportunities to express my creativity – I tend to think in “big picture” terms but since I’m not running my own business I don’t always have an outlet for my ideas. Serving in a leadership position with our chapter has provided numerous opportunities to let my creative juices flow.
As the time for membership renewal has once again arrived, I would encourage all STC members to take a moment and reflect on exactly why they joined STC in the first place. Perhaps your list may include some of the items I mentioned. Maybe you came from a completely different angle and your list would be very different. Either way, there’s value in revisiting your original decision.
Further, I would encourage you to reaffirm that original decision by renewing your membership if you have not already done so. If you feel that you have not received all from your membership that you would have preferred, I would ask you to consider getting involved with your chapter (your community) at a deeper level. Remember, like many things in life, you can only get out as much as you put in.
Over the last few months as I’ve settled into my new employment arrangement and my STC administrative duties, I’ve occasionally reflected on my decision to join STC. I can easily see how much of an impact STC membership has had on my personal and professional life. Further, I can easily see how I will continue reaping the numerous rewards associated with membership in this organization. I enjoy the people I get to meet and the things I get to learn. And, frankly, I can’t wait to see what happens next!