It has been 13 years since I joined the IEEE student branch at NED University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi, Pakistan. Through my volunteer work as a student, as a member of the IEEE Graduates of the Last Decade group, and as an IEEE senior member, I have come a long way in developing my soft skills and, in the process, have formed many long-lasting relationships. IEEE has helped enormously in all aspects of my career, first in Pakistan and now in Canada.
I encourage students and young members to get involved in their local IEEE community. The relationships they form will travel with them everywhere and connect them to the technical and professional communities wherever they go.
Student members gain the most value from IEEE once they graduate and become GOLD members. In these early years of their profession, they should be developing their business skills, and membership in GOLD can help. IEEE's long reach enables GOLD members to form partnerships in multidisciplinary areas in different countries—which adds a new perspective to their technical development projects.
LESSONS LEARNED I immigrated to Toronto in 2005 and now work as a computer-systems engineer for the BMO Financial Group's network planning and vendor management department. The IEEE Toronto Section introduced me to other professionals and gave me opportunities to get involved with a number of volunteer projects. And through the people I met, I was able to find references to support my application for senior member, to which I was elevated in May 2008. As chair of my section's Industrial Relations Committee, I represented the section at the Sections Congress, held in September in Quebec City. At this triennial gathering of section leaders I talked about my committee's work and advised sections on forming stronger ties with their local businesses. Earlier, I initiated the formation of the IEEE Toronto Section Consultants Network, which was approved in October.
SOFT SKILLS Volunteering to run an IEEE section or chapter helps refine your communication and problem-solving skills as you plan and lead conferences, seminars, workshops, and other events. Such efforts provide valuable experience in people and relationship management. The skills are extremely important in the professional world, where members add value if they can blend their technical and soft skills.
IEEE brings people from diverse geographic, educational, and ethnic backgrounds under one big umbrella, and enables them to work toward a common goal. IEEE is truly a global organization in a world that is becoming "flatter" day by day.
Masood is chair of the Toronto Section's Consultants Network Affinity Group. To read more about him, visit http://www.fasih-masood.com or http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r7/toronto/executive/fmasood.htm.