As this year’s chair of IEEE Young Professionals, I will focus my efforts on getting our members more engaged. But before I do that, it’s important for IEEE to understand the way young engineers think and act. We need to accept the fact that their need to join a professional association is declining, and belonging to one no longer holds the same weight that it did for their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. One reason is because they can find most of the resources they need online.
In fact, today’s young professionals have an entire life on the Web, and therefore our group must aim to connect with them where they are. We also need to consider their work style, motivation, and goals.
Moreover, today’s world is more dynamic. Change happens much more quickly in our industry than in years past. IEEE Young Professionals needs to keep up the pace with these continuous transformations, and provide members with the information they need to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. Beyond preparing our members to work on current issues, it is crucial that we address the challenges to come. Otherwise, we will be on the sidelines in terms of shaping the future.
Last year, under the leadership of IEEE Member Mario Milicevic, IEEE Young Professionals initiated the development of a business plan that includes a better understanding of the needs of engineers starting out in their careers. By doing so, the group could offer products and services that would help them land a job and increase their involvement within the organization. We will continue to concentrate our efforts on the four main pillars of that plan:
- Volunteer engagement: We aim to make volunteering more attractive by simplifying the process of getting involved, developing more exciting and creative roles that will pique members’ interest, encouraging members to suggest their own projects and ideas, and rewarding volunteers for their efforts and devotion.
- Membership retention: We strive to provide our members with a host of products and services that help them with their professional development. We offer conferences on how to start a business as well as virtual events and webinars on leadership.
- IEEE involvement: We want to ensure that networking takes place among Young Professionals’ members and other IEEE units, including IEEE Educational Activities, IEEE Technical Activities, and the IEEE Standards Association, so that they can better understand the activities throughout the organization and participate in those of interest.
- Networking: We continue to encourage our members to participate in conferences across the organization, including local events where they can interact and collaborate with others in similar fields.
These goals aim to provide a platform where current and future engineers find value, and where such opportunities are not available elsewhere. To ensure our efforts are sustainable over the years as leadership continues to change, we are developing projects for the long term that require minimal supervision—ones that volunteers can run with and make their own.
In 2017 our efforts will focus on successfully serving the future generations of engineers.
IEEE Senior Member Rafal Sliz is the chair of IEEE Young Professionals. He is a postdoctoral researcher in the field of nanotechnology and flexible electronics at the University of Oulu, in Finland.