Everyone always asks, what are the benefits of joining AITP? What are the rewards for becoming a dues-paying member? Why should I want to become a member of AITP?
Most of the obvious answers can be found by simply browsing the AITP website. You get discounts for copying, shipping, insurance and shopping, just to name a few benefits. Your local chapter holds monthly meetings which feature interesting and informative speakers. You get a chance to look inside the operations, including any newly implemented technology, of local businesses through tours set up by AITP. As a member of AITP you are eligible to attend regional and national conferences.
These are great tangible benefits, but what about those plusses that may be more subtle but just as valuable? Networking is a vital part of most any occupation and that is especially true for IT professionals. Being active in AITP provides the opportunity to interact with and pick the mind of fellow AITP members in your area, IT professionals within your state and around the country and future AITP members who are currently studying information technology in college. It's easy to put a value on a 10% discount on office supplies, but the value found in networking through AITP is priceless. It is an asset you will have for life.
Let me give a quick example of how AITP networking benefited me.
I recently moved from Florida (where I had lived all my life) to Northwest Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas is home to Wal-Mart and an impressive list of nationally recognized employers in the area. For whatever reason, I had it in my mind that if I could meet someone who worked for Wal-Mart's IT operation in Bentonville that everything with this major upheaval in my world would be ok. I was active in my Florida AITP chapter, so I gave myself six months to get involved with the local Arkansas chapter. My thinking was that if I could get to know some local AITP professionals, one of them had to know someone who worked for Wal-Mart in the IT field. Once I met that goal - Bingo! - I would feel at home and things would be fine with the relocation I just made.
Before I left Florida, I started laying the groundwork for my introduction to Northwest Arkansas AITP. I sent an email to the chapter, explaining that I was moving to the area from Florida and wanted to say hi and introduce myself. You could have pushed me over with a feather when I got the email reply from the Arkansas chapter. The person who responded was an NWA chapter officer and ... she worked for Wal-Mart! In the IT department! I thought to myself, no way. This had to be a hoax. In pursuit of confirmation, I called their number, and it was no joke. It was all true, including the stuff about Wal-Mart.
So, when I moved here I could not wait to get involved with my local AITP chapter. You would think the story ends here, but it continues. I had moved here with no IT job, so at my first NWA AITP meeting I met someone from Robert Half Technology. You know the drill - come see us - we can get you a job. Business cards are passed around and you think, that's nice. But the Robert Half folks were serious. They contacted me within a week. They set-up an interview and in less than two weeks, I was working. Needless to say I had to establish new goals once I got here, as my first goal was met by sending one email to my local AITP chapter. Priceless. I cannot say it enough. My next goal was to give myself six months to find a job and that was essentially accomplished after one AITP meeting. Again, absolutely priceless.
The benefits to being in AITP are more than just discounts. They are more than finding a new job. Now that I have the job, I have access to all my fellow professionals whenever I need a second opinion, am considering new technology or have a puzzle I cannot solve. The networking opportunities make this AITP membership more precious than gold. The value can only escalate, and my career will do likewise. AITP is a bargin. AITP is a must.