IEEE: No Better Place for Networking

Volunteering can help you land a job

6 April 2009

Classified ads, online job sites, and career fairs may be the first places people check if they’re looking for a job. But there’s also networking, which is almost universally recognized the best of all. Only, how do you network beyond your limited circle of friends, relatives, and acquaintances? For IEEE members who volunteer and play an active role in the organization, the task comes easier. Hint: Networking is even more effective if you don’t wait until you’ve lost your job. Instead, volunteer now.

Automatically, volunteers make contacts and meet leaders in their field, any one of whom might know someone who could disclose a job opening. Along the way, volunteers pick up a host of handy organizational and people skills. And volunteering doesn’t cost them a penny.

"For networking the best thing you can do is turn to an organization like IEEE and get involved,” says Senior Member Jean Eason, chair of the IEEE-USA Employment and Career Services Committee. “By volunteering and helping out, and showing how great you are at organizing meetings and other events, the good word about you is bound to get out.”

Whether you’re best suited to organizing meetings, writing a newsletter, financial reporting, or maintaining a Web site, the chances are your region, society, or local section or chapter can use your help.

OUT IN FRONT “IEEE is absolutely the best place for getting yourself out there in front of people,” Eason says. “People are willing to recommend you once they know how good you are.”

Member Peggy Hutcheson, a member of Eason’s committee who has chaired several IEEE conferences, found that volunteering taught her how to work with large groups. She also learned about the issues confronting leading technical thinkers and the challenges they face.

“It gave me that ledge to stand on to have more credibility with my clients,” she says. Hutcheson is president of the Odyssey Group, a human resources consulting firm in Atlanta.

“If I’ve learned one thing, I’ve learned that no matter the economic times, people find jobs through other people, not through ads or search services,” she says. “In the regions, sections, chapters, and societies, there are so many in IEEE who are willing to help you.”

For Hutcheson, networking is the No. 1 way to find a job, as well as to stay in touch with changes in your field—which could help solidify your position at your current job. What’s more, being active in IEEE can be gratifying and memorable. But she stresses that being actively involved is what makes the difference.

“Joining is one thing. Participating is another,” she says. “The more you give, the more you get.”

So, what are you waiting for? Get active now!

You can learn more about IEEE volunteering opportunities at http://www.ieee.org/web/volunteers/home.

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