Merriam-Webster defines transition as a passage from one state, subject, or place to another or – when in relation to an atomic nucleus or a molecule – an abrupt change in energy level usually accompanied by change in energy. In my experience over the past few months, the transition from a stand-alone association to an association management company (AMC) has been a bit of both.
Because I had worked at a large state association for more than a decade, any career transition would have been significant, but moving to an association management company (AMC), a completely different management model, added a level of complexity and excitement that exceeded what you might expect in a simple job change. My long tenure at a job that I loved and had immersed myself in afforded me a level of deep understanding and comfort in my position and what I could bring to the association each day. But from my very first day at Strategic Association Management (SAM), I was working in a new environment for multiple association client partners I was (and am) still familiarizing myself with. Thanks to the stimulating and exciting setting, I jumped in with both feet to learn more.
After all, constant change is what drew me to the association industry and has kept me engaged for all these years. As a goal-driven person, the challenge to innovate, embrace solutions, and make the most of available resources keeps me interested and motivated to continually improve. When I first entered the job market, I knew I didn’t want a position in which I did the same thing every day. When I fell into the association world after working as an event planner and discovered what I could offer a community through its meetings and conferences, I knew I was home.
Making the move to the AMC model felt like the inevitable next step along my path. Creating unique and meaningful conference experiences for diverse organizations offers me the ability to tap into my creativity while capitalizing on the joy I find in developing processes and organization. The pace and intensity of juggling multiple client partners and conferences might result in long lists and a full calendar, but it also produces the feeling of camaraderie with co-workers, of joy in connection and ingenuity, and contentment at the completion of a job well done. It’s helped me focus on what is most important at work and in my personal life – a lesson I didn’t expect to learn so soon into my new position.
As with any new job, I’m learning the terminology, confronting new obstacles, and finding solutions that work in this setting. I’m excited by the eagerness with which I find myself approaching obstacles, as well as the opportunities for growth the AMC model offers small- and medium-sized associations. After so many years in this industry, it has been a welcome surprise to see what an AMC has to offer me both professionally and personally – a new spark, a fresh outlook and a higher goal to reach.
Julie Marshall, CMP, is a meetings and events director for Strategic Association Management in Austin, TX. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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