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Training For Association Professionals: New Asae Certificate Program In Association Management

In 1998 I started my first job in association management as a meeting planner for a start-up association management company. At the time there were only four employees, so I had to quickly learn not only what a meeting planner’s role was in the association management industry, but I had to learn the ins and outs of everything a good association manager would need to know because with a small staff you inevitably ended up filling all roles at some point in time.

At XYZ University, we talk a lot about talent recruitment and succession planning. We also focus on ways associations can implement new strategies in marketing and membership recruitment. The following is a guest post by Maria Huntley outlining a new ASAE University certificate program for association professionals interested in expanding their own professional development and leadership skills:

In 1998 I started my first job in association management as a meeting planner for a start-up association management company. At the time there were only four employees, so I had to quickly learn not only what a meeting planner’s role was in the association management industry, but I had to learn the ins and outs of everything a good association manager would need to know because with a small staff you inevitably ended up filling all roles at some point in time.

I had great mentors around me and was not afraid to ask questions, but I wanted to know more and I struggled to find a place to go to that could teach me the basics and provide me with tools to develop into a successful association management staff person.

Being an ambitious young professional, I wanted to learn more. I wanted to be the best at what I did. I immediately wanted to become a CAE (Certified Association Executive) so I could give my clients and my company the best service possible. It was a little deflating when I learned that I needed five years of experience before I could qualify for the program.

I did some searching around and found a local university that offered a graduate degree in nonprofit management so I dove into that program. I certainly learned a lot about nonprofit management and the program helped me become a great contributor to the association community. I can’t say enough good things about that experience, but there were some challenges.

First, I was the only person in any of my classes who focused their work on associations, so many of the discussions and examples were focused on the more traditional nonprofit charitable work. I was able to apply situations to my own work, but it was unfortunate that I didn’t have the opportunity to connect with others working in associations during that course of the program. I was always jealous of the connections and support that my classmates were about to make because they were all working in similar charitable nonprofits.

Second, going through a graduate program was a huge time and financial commitment for me personally and for my organization. I am forever grateful that I was able to give the time and financial resources but I am very aware that most people and their employers do not have that luxury.

After completing this program I was then able to go through the CAE process and became the president of the company I had started with back in 1998. This was a great personal accomplishment. Quickly I found myself running into the same challenge with my staff. I had a team of incredibly smart, talented and experienced professionals who needed training in basic association management. I did my best to provide this training and support to my staff myself, but it was never quite enough. I had four key staff ready to go through the CAE process who were looking for comprehensive training to prepare for this program.

You can only imagine my reaction when I learned about the new Certificate Program in Association Management that was developed by ASAE University specifically geared towards staff with five years or less experience working specifically with associations. I have to admit, for a moment I felt a little sorry for myself that I didn’t have the chance to go through this program back in 1998. I quickly got over that when I was presented with the opportunity to teach this course. For the first time in a long time, I could feel the blood pumping through my veins with excitement about what I could give back to an industry that gave so much to me.

If you are interested, or if you know of someone who could benefit from going through this program, please contact me or visit the ASAE’s Certificate Program in Association Management website.

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