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How Did I Get Here and Where Do I Go Now?

Sunday, October 01, 2017 9:04 PM | Deleted user

Posted By Ethan Gray, Wednesday, Oct 1, 2017

If you’re like me, Association Management was not on your radar screen while you were in college. Since I finished my undergraduate studies in 2003, the industry has (in my eyes) gained much more visibility. I think that speaks not only to its vitality but the recognition of its essential role in society by institutions of higher education. That didn’t help me in 2003 though. I left college with enthusiasm, great memories, an economics degree and almost no direction. Instead of moving back home, I relocated to Philadelphia with my future wife and some equally wayward friends and signed up for AmeriCorps (an exceptional program with beautifully varied opportunities).

AmeriCorps introduced me to the non-profit environment and to real service. When my term ended, I envisioned two paths I could consider walking: 1) Go back to economics and try to find an entry-level role asan analyst or continue to pursue this foggy non-profit world. I chose the latter. I was lucky enough to convince several people that I had areal penchant for service and for contributing to a cause or profession designed to make a difference rather than simply generate a profit. Two jobs later I said to myself “I seem to have at least found a role that makes sense and might keep me gainfully employed for a while”. This was partly because I had been able to transfer skills I had acquired in my econ training (data manipulation, introductory project management etc.). This is an important point because I believe many concentrations teach fundamental skills that are applicable daily tothis industry. In a way, that provides a diversity of opportunity that may not be so readily available elsewhere. Anyway, I found myself in another period of contemplation. And then it happened. I found a job atan Association Management Company. What was “As·so·ci·a·tion Man·age·ment”?? I didn’t know but would be quickly educated. When Ifully grasped the concept, I knew I had found a career. Not only was I amazed but I felt gratitude for having somehow been delivered to this opportunity; an opportunity for a real professional life. Through that job, I was introduced to MASAE. Now, I had not only a career path but a community and resources to help me navigate, contribute and be successful.

That all happened 11 years ago. Since then, my wife has walked a path that lead to the same industry (how cute) and her vocation has taken her all over the world as a volunteer specialist teaching people about the power of professional engagement and community.  Through this all, MASAE has been a place for learning, building relationships and becoming a better association manager. The organization was a principal reason I pursued and achieved the CAE credential. I have been grateful that MASAE has also allowed me to serve as a speaker, committee member and now board member.

Whether you have been recently delivered to Association Management or are seasoned, MASAE is your community and can be an indispensable resource should you choose to engage (come to networking events! access resources online! join a committee!). The community will be stronger with your contributions. My path to this profession was largely circumstantial. Since I arrived, I have been deliberate in my unwillingness to travel elsewhere. I know many MASAE members and I would like to meet and learn from more. I hope to see you at upcoming events. Feel free to connect at any time.

I now work in membership at the Society of Hospital Medicine in Philadelphia; or find me on LinkedIn.

Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives
P.O. Box 518
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

Phone: 267-597-3818
Fax: 856-727-9504

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