Remember when you first decided to become a safety professional, the mix of excitement and uncertainty as you wondered where your chosen path would take you? Once you made that choice, how did you make sure you prepared yourself to succeed?
These are questions that our student members—and we have more than 2,000 of them—are currently facing. As a Society, we are helping them find the answers. ASSE provides student members with many benefits, from working with mentors to networking with chapter members who may be able to connect them with employment opportunities, to gaining leadership experience, and much more. ASSE values the opportunity to help these students launch their careers. They are the future of our profession and our Society. By engaging them early, ASSE helps these students strengthen their knowledge, develop skills they need to thrive in the workplace and get a running start at becoming a valuable corporate contributor.
One way we do this is by providing educational opportunities. For example, our student members have free access to ASSE’s virtual classroom, where they can participate in a variety of webinars. They can also participate in the annual Future Safety Leaders Conference. During this event, students interact with working SH&E professionals to learn what they need to know as they enter the workforce. This year’s conference will be held Nov. 12-13 in Indianapolis, and it will cover career options, effective presentations and establishing workplace credibility, as well as building a resume, job interviews and resources such as our online Nexsteps career center. We’ll also be using social media tools to help students begin to build their professional networks. The level of professionalism these future SH&E professionals display is impressive, and I look forward to meeting all the great up-and-comers who will be there.
The ASSE Foundation supports this annual student conference as part of its overall mission to foster future SH&E professionals. The Foundation’s highly successful scholarship program is another part of this mission. In 2009, the Foundation awarded $124,000 in undergraduate and graduate scholarships to 54 students. In addition, each year, the Foundation, in partnership with Liberty Mutual, awards research fellowships to support individuals pursuing advanced degrees in an SH&E-related field. And in conjunction with BCSP, the Foundation publishes Career Guide to the Safety Profession, which provides an excellent overview of the careers available to safety professionals. This publication is distributed regularly to high schools and colleges throughout the country.
Beyond these efforts, ASSE also presents an annual award to recognize the outstanding student section—we currently have 60—that encourages more students to get involved in the research activities and community projects that these groups sponsor each year. These efforts are also supported by our network of local chapters. All student sections are sponsored by a chapter, and these chapters offer students many opportunities to develop key skills, such as public speaking. The chapters give students additional opportunities to network, work with mentors, job shadow, participate in career days, earn scholarships and much more.
Through ASSE’s support, expanding educational offerings and improving academic programs, students are coming into the workforce more prepared than ever. Raising this bar is healthy for our profession, and ASSE will continue to support the growth of student members.
I encourage you to join this effort. Ask your local chapter what student programs you can help with, donate to a Foundation scholarship or volunteer to help with the Future Safety Leaders Conference. Perhaps your corporation would even be interested in being a conference sponsor.
Today’s student members are tomorrow’s professional members. We have an obligation to help them succeed and develop into highly skilled safety practitioners. Doing so will not only help our students, it will also elevate the profession and the practice of safety.