By: David Rosenthal, PE, 2012 AIChE President
Today's careers for chemical engineers are full of decisions regarding how we invest our time. The work-life balance is challenged from the time demanded from our employers. The time we can devote to ourselves for social activities, hobbies, family, and travel is constrained. This lack of balance causes us to ask of activities outside of our careers, "What is the return?". One can view the answer in terms of what is the business case for participation. How much time is required? How much are membership dues? What do I get from the investment of my time and money? One could consider their returns on the benefits from this time and monetary investment.
Becoming involved with a professional society like the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has the same evaluation. For young professionals there are both short-term and long-term returns for their investment of time and money. The answer to continuing membership in AIChE is provided below in a few examples of the benefits obtained from the time and money invested. I believe if the young professional (YP) has this awareness, the decision can be easily made.
Building the business case
Let us start with the investment side of this equation. Typically, involvement as an AIChE YP requires an hour or two a month which may be worth $100 of your time. Membership dues for newly graduated YP's are $100. Over a year of activities you might have $1,000 invested in time and money. So, what do you get in return for this investment?
For the short term, let's start with webinar credits from ChemE on Demand, which is worth $700. Learning does not stop after college, so if you take one professional learning course you can save $200 as a member. Receiving AIChE Smart Brief online and CEP does not require you to obtain a subscription, saving over $50. Utilizing the AIChE eLibrary eliminates the purchase of books, saving $100 or more. I could mention more but in the short term, the investment of your time and money essentially provides benefits yielding a minimum of a one-year payback.
For the long term, the networking contacts you make can help you find your next job. Leading a Young Professionals group and presenting technical material gives you "free" professional development experience. Attending technical conferences, regional meetings, and topical meetings maintains your competency in a field where knowledge is expanding and requires an investment to obtain. If you are forward thinking and invest in member-only insurance products and financial services, you might even generate a return in the long term as a full professional member.
I hope the above examples will give you some awareness of how much AIChE membership can do for you and your pocketbook.