As a member of the Chi Sigma Iota Professional Task Force, one of my responsibilities is to find ways to increase professional involvement in the organization with the goal of increasing the rate of Student members continuing their affiliation as Professional members. Why is there a trend of, upon graduating, student members not renewing as professionals? Is this common in other organizations like ACA? Does the organization not provide the resources or benefits that counselors and counselor educators need as they develop from student to professional? These are the questions that CSI and the members of the Professional Task Force have been researching for the past few years.
My hypothesis, with regards to CSI, is that when individuals are student members they are often part of an active chapter at the school they are attending. Participating with active chapters offers members the opportunity to socialize with one another, fundraise together, as well as attend and even present at conferences together. The Chapter establishes a sense of community within its members. However, when one graduates and moves away for a job, involvement decreases. I feel what keeps CSI so spirited within its student members is the fact that the majority of the events and resources available are confined to local chapters on campus; and when one moves to an area where there is no chapter, membership drops.
To stay involved with CSI as a professional entails much more work than that of the student member, location playing a big part in that. Right now we are trying to take the work out for and bring professionals back closer to the organization. What’s great is that right now Chapters are expanding to use Facebook, Twitter, etc… to create more of an online presence for their members, and by doing so, offering individuals opportunities to stay connected with their chapters. The more members are able to “connect” to a chapter and the more the organization develops an “online presence” to do so, CSI will begin to see an increase in their Professional members.
My questions to you are: What resources are most beneficial for a member’s transition from student to a professional? When you first made that transition from a counseling student to a counseling professional, what were you looking for in a professional membership?
Jaime Castillo is a counselor who works for a non-profit agency in New York City.