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Jenny Baker
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A Decade of SIOP Membership: Insights for Newer I-Os

Michelle Goro, Membership Committee Chair-in-Training

As I sat down to write this piece for TIP, it definitely took me more than a few minutes to figure out how to begin. I wanted to give it the priority it deserves, but in the midst of the global pandemic we are all facing, I wasn’t sure how to approach the topic of what membership means to me so that it would be meaningful to you. Right now, the world is not able to function the way it was just a few months ago. With the undeniable strain that every individual is facing, your first question as a reader is, probably, “Why should I give this article more than 30 seconds worth of attention?” Well, let me try and answer that for you now.

SIOP membership is composed of about 10,000 members annually, of which about 1,500 are volunteers. Nothing resonates more with me than an organization being supported nearly entirely by people who are so passionate about their field that they give up their free time to keep it moving forward. SIOP has changed over the past decade, and in the process it changed our community and how I think about I-O; if you are early or mid career like myself, keep reading!

So who am I? No full life history here because this isn’t about me at all, but rather, what my relevance is to SIOP. After more than one failed undergraduate attempt at organic chemistry, a guidance counselor visit, and many psychology classes later, I found my passion for I-O. Sound familiar? Many of us stumbled into this amazing field after a few attempts at finding our passion.

During my first semester in graduate school, I was lucky enough to have a professor who encouraged us to join SIOP. He said that his first annual conference (AC) was incredibly career affirming for him, and he really saw the value in joining the society (So much so, that “What does SIOP stand for?” was one of our comps questions!). Even though I only attended a few sessions those early years of being a member, I really enjoyed being in a new city with a few people I knew (and many I didn’t) who all knew what I-O was!

Despite the fact that my younger self wasn’t great at making connections that resulted in any future AC session mates, I have been lucky to work with many great fellow I-Os and more recently began to think about submissions to give back some useful insights to our Society. I also began volunteering for the Membership Committee and have been able to apply my analytical skills as the Membership Analytics (MA) Subcommittee cochair. The MA team is the first group to get their hands on the SIOP membership data and actually start to process it! As those insights filter out to the rest of the membership over the next year (Keep an eye out!), I’m incredibly excited to be transitioning to the Membership Chair-In-Training role for the 2021 SIOP year.

Alright, that’s enough about me. I hope that provided some useful background as to how I came to actually care about SIOP. I wasn’t sipping the Kool-Aid from day one but rather was a passive member. I personally didn’t buy into what being a member could provide me until later, but I was a member nonetheless all the while.

One anecdotal trend I’ve noticed is fewer of my fellow I-Os seem to be renewing their SIOP memberships, stating they don’t see the value. Additionally, the most recent exit survey (see also this article in this issue of TIP) even included multiple reasons for nonrenewal of membership, such as “I am not clear what the SIOP benefits are for me.”  As I reflected on my history with SIOP, I came up with a few things that I hope you find of value to this earlier time in your career, as I have over the years.

SIOP reviews help keep me current on the latest research: Since graduating with my master’s degree in 2009, I have been an annual reviewer of AC submissions. From my perspective, this was my only real contribution to the Society because I didn’t even submit a session with my name on it until the 2018 conference. For me, the reviews were my way of being able to help and give back just a bit of my time to our ever-expanding knowledge base. They are really easy to do; just look out for the sign-up email from the Administrative Office (AO) when it comes around early September of each year. The reviews take about 30 minutes each to complete, and you are contributing to the whole of our Society. You also gain some unique insights into what others are doing, because as a reviewer, you are the first to read these submissions.

TIP articles have modernized the way I get I-O info: Even if you don’t join SIOP, you get some cool stuff for free...like this TIP publication! I remember the ol’ days when this was actually printed with some nice cover artwork, but because nearly everything is available online now, we can get this to everyone at the same time, without wasting printing and mailing resources. And of course, we can include hyperlinks to other referenced information to help save your valuable time!

White papers provide quick and current I-O insights: There are numerous white papers available for you to peruse on the SIOP website. Want to learn about mobile device usage in selection? There’s a white paper about that! Want to review telecommuting best practices, especially given our current global situation? There’s a white paper about that! White papers, written by committees of SIOP, are well organized by topic for easy navigation.  These have come in handy for me when I want to quickly review a hot topic before I discuss it with others because it has been a few years since I completed graduate school.

A well-organized website guides your search for the right jobs: Speaking of graduate school, this web page provides several useful resources for student members. I haven’t visited this page in a while, but some of the newer things that are available include career tips and tools. One of the more useful links appears to be “What’s in a Name? Job Title for I-O Psychologists,” which gives multiple lists of the various job titles that could help as you enter the workforce. When I was looking for my first I-O job, I did not know that “research assistant” was an I-O role, until I got that job myself! This list would have helped expand my search results and potential job offers.

Valuable access to scientific and practice-enhancing research: Another great benefit of the website, the SIOP Research Access (SRA) service, allows members to sign up to gain access to enriching publications via three EBSCO Host databases. The Publication Index provides complete lists of the content available from the Business Source Corporate, Psychology and Behavioral Science Collection, and SocIndex. Members can also search The Learning Center for past conference video and audio files, so if there were sessions you weren’t able to attend, you are likely to find them here. When you consider the price of just one annual journal subscription that could cost several hundred dollars, the value you gain from $50 for a full year of accessibility to the content of these databases is an incredible bargain.

Everyone can save money right now: Once you join SIOP, you receive a discounted registration fee for the annual conference (AC) itself and any of the preconference workshops too. I was quite surprised to recently learn that members also have access to additional discounts. More than a dozen companies, from Budget Rent a Car to 1-800-Flowers.com to ADP, offer discounts that are exclusive to our members. I know that next time I’m sending someone a thank you gift, I won’t have to scour the Internet for “1-800-Flowers.com coupon codes” and can instead use our membership discount.

I potentially lost out on free money over the years: On a related note, the SIOP Foundation offers ways for donors to connect with our members to further create smarter workplaces. Funding opportunities are available via nearly 30 annual awards, grants, or scholarships. This is another area of our Society that I haven’t had too much of a chance to explore, which seems like a big miss on my part, if you consider the number of funding offers I have ignored in more than 10 years. As an early career I-O, I would encourage you to take time to become familiar with these opportunities, so you can work towards leveraging your next few years to apply for and maybe even earn some rewards.

SIOP is more than just the (one) conference: The AC, for me, has become a place where I get to connect and reconnect with fellow I-Os and just generally have camaraderie rooted in a society where we all actually know what others do for a living. Although I’ve not had the opportunity to attend the Leading Edge Consortium, the idea of learning from a small diverse group of industry thought leaders sounds like an enriching use of 2 days. Perhaps, in our new virtual world, we can have greater attendance the next time it is hosted, if it were to be conducted via the web.

Connect with I-Os with similar (or different!) interests: The member directory is another resource available only to current members. You can of course search for a specific member by name, residence, or employer, but the coolest feature I’ve found is searching by primary interest. If a member has filled in this field of their profile, you can quickly access all other I-Os who have shared interests. Conversely, I can see it being especially useful if you need to reach out to SMEs in topic areas in which you aren’t quite as well versed. Sure, you can spend hours combing LinkedIn one profile at a time, but why not use this built-in feature of the directory instead?

Let’s connect on social! It is 2020 after all: On the topic of social media, SIOP has definitely worked to make their presence known on the web over the past few years. Considering that Instagram didn’t launch until 2010, SIOP has worked to keep up with the changing trends and helping us stay in touch and informed all year round. Follow @siopofficial on IG, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) on LinkedIn, @siop.org on Facebook, and even SIOPofficial on YouTube. Yes, YouTube! There are helpful videos from the AO such as “Making the Most of SIOP as a Student” as well as past conference highlights and SIOP presidential addresses. Use these resources for your own enrichment and to find other I-Os who are staying current and connected.

SIOP members love SIOP: My last personal benefit from SIOP I already noted as I began. In order to sign up as a volunteer within our Society, you need to be a paid member. Aside from the AO staff of 12 people, all of SIOP is run by volunteers. As I am a “numbers person,” this next point bears repeating: SIOP’s nearly 10,000 person organization is coordinated, has multiple annual conferences, provides educational and career resources to students, and helps to provide monetary awards entirely by volunteers. If it weren’t for the volunteers, how would we have been able to advance our field’s research and spread the ever-changing knowledge amongst ourselves? For me, just your average early/mid-career I-O practitioner, I know the last decade would have been much more challenging without SIOP.

Please consider renewing your membership, and while you’re on the site, complete your member profile. Who knows how your completed profile will help to lead the future of our Society!

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