It can be difficult to find the time to think beyond the everyday pressures of a job, but doing so can have massive benefits over the long term. Investing the time and energy early on in your career means you can build up the networks and knowledge you will undoubtedly need later. However, its never too late to start – if nothing else, expanding your networks can bring you into contact with interesting projects and people.
Some years ago, my head of department asked if I would like to attend an AUA conference at Edge Hill University. I had heard of the AUA, but I wasn’t that aware of what they did. I turned up at the conference, and straight away discovered the joys of talking to people who are having the same problems as you and can offer suggestions on how to approach issues. The following year I went to their main conference, as it happened to be in Manchester, and I learnt so much from it that I decided I had to join and find out what else I could gain from it.
I have been a member for a few years now, and I have found it to be one of the more rewarding aspects of my career. I joined the branch team within my University which allowed me to meet other members, and to gain experience in organising events. I was awarded Fellowship of the AUA in September 2014, and I still use the post-nominal letters on all my emails as I am proud of that achievement. I have been to a number of conferences, and in 2016 I presented my first session. I enjoyed this immensely, as it allowed me to gain really valuable experience in presenting, and introduced me to a number of interesting people. I enjoyed it so much I signed up for two more sessions during 2017.
There is still a lot I want to do as part of my membership. I have often thought about completing the PGCert when I have finished my current studies, and I would love eventually to mentor others who are taking that course. A study tour looks really exciting, as does trying to get something published in their journal – I have always wanted to be able to say I have been published!
Joining the AUA was a huge benefit to my personal development, it has introduced me to people I would not normally have come across in my role, and the ability to network across institutions is invaluable. It also gave me the confidence to present sessions, join other groups, and become an active member of the sector. I would thoroughly recommend joining to anyone working in HE professional services.