IIE Is not ‘set it and forget it’

By Alex Bohn
Application Analyst at William Beaumont Hospital; IIE Young Professional Chair, Great Lakes Region
B.S., industrial engineering, Kettering University, 2009

What if I were to make you an offer, the terms of which are very simple: You make an initial investment, commit to one local 3 hour event or activity per month, and you end up making ten times your money in networking, professional development, scholarships and resume padding opportunities? But if you fail to capitalize on the time commitments, your return becomes much less.

This is exactly how I view being involved with the Institute of Industrial Engineers, especially as a young professional. You get what you give, and I don’t mean financially. IIE – locally, nationally and increasingly internationally – has so many opportunities to get involved, become connected with local IEs in different fields and develop yourself and your skill set.

Being on the Board of Directors for the Greater Detroit Chapter, I directly experience the struggle we have to engage members. Scholarships are awarded, unchallenged to the one or two students who submit (usually previously written) papers and do 15 minute presentations. We send out emails and publish newsletters about upcoming company tours, networking events, professional presentations and philanthropic endeavors. All of these events are either free or under $10, yet we are lucky to get more than 10% participation from paying members. The situation seems to be improving, but at a snail’s pace.

So what can you do? You have moved out of your parent’s home, settled into your Operations Engineer I position with a world-renowned company and found your first one bedroom apartment in the “hip” part of town. Now logon to iienet.org and track down your closest chapter. Email a board member, letting them know you are nearby, want to attend the next open meeting or conference call and are ready to help out anywhere they need it. Chapters are in varying states of involvement, so it might be as simple as running the registration table at an event, or (like me) jumping right into filling a vacant VP spot and really getting into the good stuff.

It is fine if the IEs approaching retirement want to pay their dues, read the monthly IE magazine and use IIE to maintain their Six Sigma Black Belt. But as a recent college graduate, that membership hits you the hardest and you better make the most out of it. When leveraged properly, IIE can be one of the easiest and best professional moves that you can make. Keep the membership going after graduation, then invest the time to get a maximum return.

Alex can be reached at Alex.M.Bohn@gmail.com.

Click here to find out more about Young Professionals at IIE.