A Word from Amy Stone, ASCE President
From October 2016 to October 2017, I have the pleasure of serving as the President of the San Antonio Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers. This journey started so long ago, that I don’t actually remember joining ASCE. I can only guess that it was as an unmarried EIT prior to 2003 as some of the correspondence still bears my maiden name. I don’t know how men track these things.
I first joined ASCE to meet industry peers that I didn’t directly work with. I wanted to see what other EIT’s were doing in their every day jobs and if they enjoyed it. It was also a great social activity for someone new to the wide world of working. I met people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds and we had an automatic small talk topic to break the ice. Later I used this casual social network to observe how others handled private and professional relationships. I observed, and learned, the correct way to meet a stranger at a business function and how to hold a polite, friendly conversation with a professional colleague. As you know, this is an invaluable skill and one that most engineers struggle with.
I continued to be a member of ASCE, frankly, for the professional gossip and relationships with peers. Regarding the first, it is very good to know whether or not you would enjoy working for a company BEFORE you start working there. It is invaluable to know if the person you are hiring looks good on paper, but was asked to resign for sexually harassing someone. Relationships with peers form an informal job network, not just for me, but for all of us. It’s also a way to ask questions of peers in an informal venue. It was not uncommon for me to call up an acquaintance and ask if they had seen a situation like ‘x’ before. How did they handle it? Was that successful?
“It was also a great social activity for someone new to the wide world of working.”
After several years, I volunteered for a committee leadership position in the San Antonio branch. In addition to the previously mentioned networking and peer relationship benefits, the greatest benefits I gained from deeper involvement are soft skills that are only learned by doing.
In the years I have been an ASCE officer, I have handled bookkeeping for up to 5 simultaneous accounts that processed almost $200,000 per year. I have filled out tax forms and dealt with the IRS on a business matter. I have arranged and conducted a banquet for 200 people. I have repeatedly and frequently spoken in front of crowds numbering up to 150 people. I have spoken to politicians at the local and state level. I have written emails that were sent to hundreds of peers. I have gained knowledge of the successful running of a decades old corporation (albeit a 501c3). I have seen what it takes to have successful transition from one leader to another. I have attended conferences in several states. I have mentored, and been mentored, on speaking, writing, presentations and being a decent citizen engineer. These are not an opportunity that any employer would have just handed over, but once I had proven successful, employers were happy to benefit from these skills.
ASCE has an agenda that is public and transparent and published online at ASCE.org. They have advocated for stricter licensure, standardized rules and regulations and other topics that protect your career and mine. You may be familiar with ASCE’s Infrastructure report card. Our Branch and our Section have both contributed to this effort, and an updated report is due early next year. ASCE’s status as a 501c3 (non-profit, non-partisan) is integral to the success of this report in the public arena.
Another way ASCE is helping you is by funding Dream Big. That is an IMAX movie showing some of the awesome things that we engineers do. Dream Big will inspire the next generation to be Engineers. It will also remind you why you became an Engineer. The trailer for Dream Big is already available online. The full length production will be available for viewing with your family and friends during E-week 2017.
You should be a member of a professional organization, too. Yes, ASCE would be great choice, but there are many others that need dedicated volunteers to achieve their goals. ASCE has given me many things over the years: a social outlet, education, public speaking skills and money management skills. All of these are things I wanted to learn and pursue. As a bonus, they also make me more valuable as an Engineer, which only adds value to the equation. ASCE has helped me achieve my big Dreams. I am honored to help others Dream Big, too.