Young Professionals are leaving AAPG, or simply not joining, for several reasons, but primarily because of competition from other professional societies.
YPs believe they can obtain similar benefits from other global societies without the hassles associated with heavy AAPG governance. Furthermore, many YPs – particularly those at international companies – receive world-class training internally, and thus do not see the benefit of joining AAPG, from a purely educational perspective.
This is according to feedback from YPs at the ninth annual Young Professional Leadership Summit in Houston held late last year in conjunction with the Student Chapter Leadership Summit and the Advisory Council meetings.
The two-day event gave YP participants the opportunity to further their engagement with AAPG through discussions about the challenges YPs currently face. Members of the Executive Committee and Advisory Council joined them at the summit, providing feedback and participating in discussions. The event also included a joint session with students to discuss sustainable development within their specific sections and regions.
Many topics were covered, including AAPGs value proposition, particularly as it relates to YPs: YP recruitment and retention, what is next for YPs and what AAPG leadership can and should be doing to help its early career professionals succeed.
YP Retention Issues
Notably, many of the issues and grievances discussed this year were identical to those of previous years, with little to no change from year to year. Although increasing membership has been a priority for the YPs and AAPG as a whole, many are leaving the Association due to a struggling job market and the inability to see an obvious value in maintaining membership.
In particular, a widely-shared concern during the leadership summit is that YPs feel as though there are limits to the level of professional development that is achievable through AAPG membership. Many YPs would like to see events with educational and/or technical content rather than just social or networking events, particularly among those who are not employed with large international organizations.
The Young Professionals were unfortunately and unexpectedly given no AAPG budget for this fiscal year. Consequently, the sections and regions are struggling with how to hold meaningful events to retain membership with no funding.
Proposals for Improvement
Brainstorming breakout sessions were held during YPLS to combat this issue, with many ideas coming to the forefront. Some of the ideas included leveraging the Distinguished Lecturer’s via recorded versions of their talks and having them available for live Q&A. Another idea is to create a web series with content related to the big shifts the industry is currently navigating, such as prominent software developments, Big Data, machine learning, data analytics, etc.
Another major issue identified in AAPG was the inability of the Young Professionals to easily exchange information and invitations and to share lessons. Currently, YPs do not have the appropriate tools for the job, and we recommend that the Association improve its strategy in order to stay relevant to the next generation of geoscientists. At present, it is difficult and time consuming to disseminate section/region event information to their YP membership, or for the global chapters to connect with one another. Consequently, most YPs are now going around the formal AAPG channels and are primarily using social media and personal communication in order to be effective. This inevitably misses some of the YP members. We need to devise a way to improve the technology available to us through AAPG to streamline communication among membership.
At the conclusion of YPLS, participants felt more connected to the AAPG, confident that their voices have been heard. Everyone walked away with a clear set of action items based on their input over the two days. Despite significant problems that were identified, there were innovative solutions proposed to address some of AAPG’s current shortcomings.
Enter: YP Connect
On a brighter note, the YP SIG would like to introduce YP Connect, the rebranded and relaunched “ProTracks” column. During YPLS, it became apparent that the name “ProTracks” did not resonate as a dedicated YP column in the EXPLORER. Recently, YP section and region leads submitted their ideas for a new name and voted on the options. “YP Connect” came out as the winner! The goal of this column is to consistently bring fresh content to the EXPLORER from a YP perspective. If you have any ideas for articles, please submit them to Robynn Dicks or Ryan Lemiski.
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