Search icon Looking for something?

So, Why Should You Be a Member of STC, Anyway?
2008, Q3 (October 21, 2008)
By John Hedtke, Fellow

Reprinted from the STC Tieline, September 2008

John Hedtke
John Hedtke
As a former Board member, I was often buttonholed by members to discuss what the Board was doing and our plans for STC's future. One of the most common topics of discussion was, "What am I getting for my membership and why should I renew?" I'm rather sympathetic to this line of questioning, as I have asked this myself in the past, sometimes rather vocally.
Why should you renew? Beats the heck outta me. But I can tell you why I renew, year after year after year.

The "elevator speech" version of why I've been a member for the last twenty-two years is simple: I've made an additional $500,000 to $750,000 that I wouldn't have made if I hadn't been a member. Have I got your attention now?

Being a member of STC has been very profitable. The first time I brought my resume to a meeting, I handed it to the job manager who read it, asked me a few questions, and hired me for a contract on the spot. People I've known through STC have hired me (and occasionally vice versa) for contracts and captive jobs over the years.

Things only got better when I started working with the STC job line and setting up STC job fairs for my chapter. We had vendors and clients bringing the jobs to us. For at least fifteen years, 80 percent of the contracts and jobs I had were a direct result of something I had heard about through STC.

The best thing is that this is a volunteer organization, so if you try and fail, well, it happens and you can always try again.
Showing up at chapter meetings and participating in the job line and job fairs has been really good for my personal finances. But let us assume that you're a better, nobler, loftier person than I am (very likely). Given that you aren't as crass, let me tell you what else you can get for your membership dollars.

In conjunction with the previous point are the resources available to you for learning new skills and technologies. For example, attending chapter meetings and presentations at conferences over the years has taught me self-promotion, documentation project management, portfolio preparation, how to create effective web pages, and hundreds of other specific skills that were of value to me in my own career.

Speaking of careers, that's another thing I've gotten from my membership: career planning and training. Not only have I been able to talk to any number of peers to get information about career paths and choices, I've had a chance to try things out within the confines of STC.

Have you wanted to learn presentation skills? Giving presentations to STC chapters or at conferences is a safe way to experiment and get the feel of public speaking in front of a reasonably receptive audience.

Want to try management? Taking on a leadership role is a great way to learn. You'll probably make mistakes, but your job isn't hinging on this and you can spread your wings while still in a safe venue.

There are a multitude of opportunities to use STC communities as a sandbox. They've been worth a lot to me and I'm guessing they'll be worth a lot to you, too. The best thing is that this is a volunteer organization, so if you try and fail, well, it happens and you can always try again.

Networking is something else STC is good for. Networking keeps you in touch with trends in the profession, what skills and technologies are in demand, the state of the job market, and what other people are doing.

Still another benefit of STC membership is layoff insurance. If you've accumulated a lot of extra skills, you're more likely to weather layoffs because you're going to be more valuable to your employer. And even if you do get laid off, you're going to be able to get another job quicker than your compatriots. If nothing else, you'll have learned where the jobs are, how to package your portfolio and resume, and what skills employers are looking for.

I've been talking a lot about accumulating bucks here, so let me switch gears and talk about the social aspects of being a member. Many of my closest friends are people I've met through STC. These are people I hope to have in my life for the next forty years; these are people who know me better than anyone else and who have enriched me beyond words.

Being a member of STC can also bring professional honors and recognition. The easiest path for this is entering your work in competitions and getting awards. Continued service to STC will also enable you to get recognition such as a distinguished chapter service award. If you've been doing a lot for the profession, you may even become an Associate Fellow or Fellow, which is a huge moment in one's career.

One of the things that's important at this point in my career is payback. I've gotten money, jobs, friends, honors, and lots of good times-all because my first technical publications manager suggested I go to STC meetings. I believe I owe something to the Society for all of that. I have an obligation to return what I've gotten so that other people can be successful, too.

We all have to make choices about value and your mileage may vary considerably from mine. But if none of these reasons work for you, then consider my final reason, perhaps the most important of all: this has been fun. Being involved with STC has been a great ride so far. I'm looking forward to the next twenty years.

John Hedtke can be reached at john at hedtke dot com. End of article.

More articles like this...
Comments powered by Disqus.