If you only had a few sentences to tell another professional who you are, what would you say?
At parties, you hear people say I’m an attorney, or I’m a teacher, or I own a business. Instead of specifying a profession sometimes people will say, “I work in health care” or “I work for Google,” which is another way of saying, “I work in tech.” Sometimes, although rarer, you’ll hear people say something like, “I advocate for human rights.” For many of us, a big part of our identity our profession, our affiliation with our industry, or our career mission.
The impact on identity is one of the reasons career transitions are so difficult for many members. If I take a leave of absence from being a professor, am I still a professor? If I retire from my company, am I still the professional I was for all those years? What will people think if I leave this industry and go to that industry? Navigating these challenging transitions is another way associations can help members.
During every transition, members are busy trying to either join or uncouple their identity with their newest career or life stage. Recently graduated students are deciding whether to find affiliation with their new profession or industry. New parents are juggling new obligations of parenthood with their careers, and this changes their identity. Members change jobs, companies, and industries. Sometimes their level of responsibility moves up and sometimes down; each move has an impact on identity.
How can associations help?
Student programs can help students find affinity with their chosen industry or profession. Job posting and job training programs can help members navigate the always fluctuating environment of employment. Entrepreneurial programs can help members make the transition from staff member to a business owner. Volunteer programs can help retirees make tremendous contributions. Marketing programs can help employees boost their personal brand when times are tough.
Are you looking for more ways to help members? Study their career transitions and how those changes impact their identity.