Today my CILIP membership renewal form arrived. When I first joined a couple of years ago as a student member I fully intended to give up my membership when I finished my degree since I didn't think I could justify the fees.
Over the last few months however I've changed my mind on this. I'm renewing my membership, with the intention of going for Chartership when I've finished my degree. I honestly believe that this will be worth the money even though I don't expect to get a new job or a pay rise out of it (although I wouldn't say no if the boss is reading!). The reason I'm doing it is that I feel that I get a lot out of being a member.
I've been lucky enough to win grants to attend two CILIP organised conferences. These conferences have given me confidence in myself and helped me enormously with my dissertation research. I've also been involved in writing for a couple of CILIP publications and have attended some events. These activities have all helped me to increase my professional knowledge, which I think adds a lot to my day-to-day job. Being a member has also led, indirectly, to my participation in the CPD23 programme which has been invaluable to me in many ways.
The most important thing that I feel I've gotten from my membership is contact with a lot of wonderful people. This has been both in person and online. I've been having quite a tough couple of years, both personally and professionally and talking with like minded people has really helped. CILIP members are a friendly and welcoming bunch and are working really hard to stand up for their profession in tough times. The bottom line is that I think CILIP really does offer a great chance for both professional and personal development.
I know that circumstances are different for everyone and some people have been quite vocal over their desire to leave CILIP or never get involved in the first place. I used to be one of them. I would say, don't let the fees alone put you off. Although I do think they are high for what is not generally a well paid profession, I think it's worth looking at what you could potentially get out of membership. Try it for a year and if you don't think it's worth it then there's no pressure to continue.
The important thing to remember is that you will get as much out of membership as you are prepared to put in. It takes work to make professional bodies a success and this includes all members. If you get involved in any way, no matter how small, then you will start to see the benefits. I think a lot of people just join professional bodies expecting all the work to be done for them and this isn't the case. Something as simple as following CILIP and/or its various groups on Twitter can lead to a wealth of information about ways to participate. It doesn't have to be big and it doesn't have to be scary.
I don't really know why I am writing this (probably something to do with avoiding the half finished dissertation that is crying out to be completed). It's just something that I felt I had to say, which is part of the joy of blogging I suppose! So, for better or worse I'm hitting the publish button. Thanks for reading to anyone who has made it to the end of this long and slightly rambling blog post!