District 2 Trustee
I am so excited to be a new ISAWWA Trustee! As of last month, I am officially no longer a Young Professional (YP) by age, although I am still one at heart. And I've been told my sense of humor is that of a 5-year old, but that doesn't count. As much as I will miss the Young Professionals Committee, I am also very excited to see all the creative ideas and energy that Brian Kooistra, the new Chair, brings to that committee.
As Trustee, I have really enjoyed getting to talk to new or prospective members about the benefits of AWWA. There are many new, young engineers at my work; and, in talking to them about becoming AWWA members, I always tell the story of how I became a member. I can remember very distinctly why I became an AWWA member 14 years ago. I was an undergraduate in the process of publishing my first research article in Journal AWWA, and the graduate student I was working with suggested I become an AWWA member so that I would be listed as such under the author notation. He explained to me that AWWA membership would be helpful for a career in the water industry. And he was right! No matter whether it was Texas or Illinois that I was living in, I have looked to the AWWA local section for professional development and networking opportunities where I can discuss my daily challenges with other water industry professionals. As a Ph.D. student, I couldn't have imagined not having an AWWA membership. Membership helps you make a career out of a something that, for many, may have started as just a job.
At the same time, YPs are the least likely to have their membership paid for by their company or utility but have the most to gain from membership. The same applied to me as a YP. But I always made paying for my membership a priority. Paying for membership has been an investment in myself. When employers encourage their Young Professionals to get involved in ISAWWA, they keep them from feeling isolated in their job. Networking with other YPs, as well as with "OP's” in the industry, can be helpful in everything from career advice to helping pass the Operator's Exam or the Professional Engineer Exam.
Further, I have noticed a gap in our YPs here in Illinois compared to what I experienced in Texas. I don't meet a lot of graduate student members here in Illinois. In Texas, professors, masters, and Ph.D. students made up a large percentage of the local section membership. It makes sense, things like the Young Professionals and Student Paper Presentations are a free way to get a research group's research noticed by a wide audience. And graduate students get practice presenting their research.
So I give a shout out to my academic brethren – encourage your colleagues to join ISAWWA. If you are reading your colleague's copy of this Splash, join and get your own copy as well as your own access to e-Journal AWWA. Network at Student and YP events. Attend a career fair or use the "Career Center” portion of the www.isawwa.org website. Apply for scholarships at both the Illinois Section and national AWWA levels. Spend an entire day of student and young professional activities and talks at the WATERCON conference held in Springfield each March.
Student membership is only $28 and young professional membership is only $99. I and many of the ISAWWA Board have even sponsored student memberships (9 have been sponsored in the past year alone). Students can go to isawwa.org and search "Apply for Student Member Sponsorship" to apply. Active members will review the student's request for a "sponsored" membership. The student's sponsor will pay their first year's membership fee and serve as a mentor for them during that year to provide them with information that will help them get the most from their membership.