Nominations Now Open | Join a Community of Cultivated Fellowship
Community is more than just living in the same place—it's sharing attitudes, interests, and goals. In the case of APEGA's branch executive teams, it's cultivating a fellowship to facilitate connections between engineers, geoscientists, members-in-training, and their communities, and to provide outreach opportunities to students who otherwise may not be exposed.
It is the word Alyssa Gladish, E.I.T., past chair of the Lakeland Branch executive, and Randi Buchner, P.Eng., chair of the Medicine Hat Branch executive, use to describe what they like best about being part of APEGA's branch executive teams—contributing to a greater whole. Both chairs say it's what keeps them coming back year after year.
Gladish has been volunteering on the executive since 2016. She began in the role of secretary before moving on to vice-chair, chair (a position she held for two terms) and now past chair. Encouraged by her employer to get engaged with the local engineering community, she attended a branch bowling event. "I left convinced that secretary was a good starting position. I didn't realize it was one of the inner members of the executive. It was a big jump in, but it was good."
It's Buchner's eighth year as an executive. She's been outreach lead, treasurer, vice-chair, and now chair. She first got involved when she helped at a Science Olympics event. "I thought it was really exciting to get to meet other local engineers. At the time I was an [engineer-in-training] and it was great networking. I fell in love with it right away."
"Everyone likes seeing volunteer experience on a résumé, and what better way to do it than through your regulator?" says Buchner.
What does the branch executive do?
The branch executive teams provide training and professional development for all APEGA members to earn continuing professional development hours, as well as engaging their families and communities. The time commitment starts from an hour or two a month and varies depending on the position, event, and level of commitment. Gladish explains the Lakeland branch helps foster more meaningful volunteering. "We look to fill voids rather than compete for positions. We will get a feel for people's interests. We're finding that people just fall into place, into a position that fits.
Members of the branch executive:
- plan and host webinars on topics like investing and planning for retirement, understanding airborne pathogens, and holding effective meetings
- organize youth-focused events such as science challenge evenings—the Lakeland Branch has had members and their families make lava lamps. Prior to COVID-19 restrictions, the Medicine Hat Branch hosted over 100 students from kindergarten to Grade 12 for their Science Olympics
- plan social events such as annual golf tournaments, ski hill tubing evenings, and bubble soccer. The Lakeland Branch has organized a drive-in movie that filled a local community centre parking lot with more than 200 people to watch Big Hero 6
"The best part of being on the executive is the satisfaction after an event—it is phenomenal. When the event goes off and it's well-attended and you get positive feedback, it's really rewarding," explains Gladish.
Why should you join the team?
Skills and career advancement are benefits of joining a branch executive team.
"It is really the best way to meet other local engineers, and those connections that can lead you to many different places. It may be a future job opportunity or a future mentorship, or many other things, but it's meeting those like-minded people," extolls Buchner.
Gladish attributes her time on the executive as what built her skills enabling her to become a project manager earlier in her career than she had anticipated. "It's given me a lot more confidence working in my field and with my peers." Planning events, calling sponsors, and speaking publicly were all experiences that helped her grow. "Sometimes as engineers, we like to stay in our bubbles, but being on the executive gives you the opportunity to branch out and meet others, make connections, and get better solutions because you have more resources to tap into."
Members of the branch executive also receive free training on a wide array of topics, such as giving engaging presentations, leading a team, and supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion. They also step into an informal network of mentors who are available to help and give advice.
Buchner says you meet people who have gone through the same thing you're going through. "[Members-in-training] applying for their professional designation bounce their applications off of each other and ask for assistance from those who had gone through it before."
Are you a good candidate?
Gladish says Lakeland Branch's most valued quality is reliability. "It is the sum of the little things that really adds up in our small group. Each team has its own distinct personality, and the Lakeland executive prides itself on planning creative social events, encouraging teammates, and fostering diversity in career stages, industries, disciplines, ages, ethnicities, genders, backgrounds, and opinions. The best executive meetings are when the group challenges me, when different opinions and ideas are expressed, and when the members take risks and bring forward new ideas. It makes the meetings engaging and exciting."
She explains if one is interested in their branch and local community, in APEGA as a whole, and in the overarching legislation with which all engineers and geoscientists comply, they would be a fantastic candidate to join a branch executive team.
"I have a feeling I'll be on the board for the long term. I really do enjoy what we do, and I've loved the connections we've been able to make and the initiatives we've brought forward," nods Buchner.
Her advice? Get involved. "Maybe you're not ready to join the executive right away, but contact someone on your branch, come out and support an event." Branch executive teams welcome all engineers, geoscientists, and members-in-training at all stages of their careers, with the open arms of a community of cultivated fellowship.
Featured in this article
Randi Buchner, P.Eng.
Alyssa Gladish, E.I.T.