Joining AAPG - Good Idea, or Great?

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

When you join a new company, they provide a lot of resources for a budding career. As a result, you might question why you would need AAPG, let alone need to volunteer for the Association.

Actually, there are several reasons AAPG can be good for you.

For one, you get to meet geoscientists outside of your company. These relationships not only provide a valuable perspective on the industry as a whole, but also allow you to build your personal network. In our line of work, it’s the “who you know” that can further your career goals.

Beyond that, volunteering gets you to the next step of leadership and those ever-important soft skills (FYI: soft skills get you promotions). The bottom line is:

If you are a YP and want to advance your career, you should volunteer in AAPG.

Demonstrate that you can not only attend a networking event, but also run one. Organizing an event develops the skills that will help you organize other aspects of your professional life. You also will get a chance to learn teamwork and leadership in a way that can be directly applied to your job and your life.

When you serve on a committee with someone or organize a technical session together, you develop a deeper relationship – truly, many of my committee comrades are now my best friends.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is a small world and an even smaller industry. You will work with these people in the future, and that volunteer committee work from 10 years ago may, for example, help you fall into an exciting team dynamic when you and a fellow committee member work together.

AAPG President Randi Martinsen encourages all YPs to participate in Association business:

“Become an active contributor to AAPG’s leadership by joining a committee or helping organize and run a conference. Actively joining in and working with other leaders will allow you to demonstrate your leadership, communication, organizational and various other skills and also improve upon them. In addition, it can often be a lot of fun.”

Already a member of an AAPG committee?

You can – and should – support YP participation. And if you nominate committee members, you need – and should want – YPs as part of your team.

The first notion people have when placing YPs on any AAPG committee is to think they belong specifically on the YP Committee.

”They’re young. They belong with YPs and we have a committee for that, right?”

That would be like taking all the new geologists at your business, putting them in one unit without direction, or a boss, and expecting great work.

Is that the model we have at our workplace? I hope not. At companies, we provide mentors, assign manageable tasks and set increasingly larger goals with greater responsibility.

This is why YPs should not only be on committees other than the YP Committee, but also hold normal offices. They then have a chance to learn the AAPG structure, watch Robert’s Rules of Order in action and contribute a little bit at a time to build up their skills.

I’ve had a marvelous opportunity to be part of the Pacific Section while starting out in AAPG volunteerism. The Pacific Section is relatively small and has let YPs hold office along with more experienced members.

This was the perfect environment to simultaneously learn and contribute. Having experienced professionals on the “team” – including one who chaired my committee the year before – provided guidance and much-needed advice.

They also stopped running for that office. Yes – the mentors now advise from behind the scenes! It was a huge vote of confidence and respect and a major investment in the future of the organization.

The joy of AAPG is that you can build something spectacular with a great idea, a network and hard work. Many experienced AAPG volunteers have built amazing programs that have benefited thousands of members, including myself.

I want to see this good work continue.

We need the next generation to learn how these programs work and prepare to carry that torch. I don’t want to see great programs die. And I really don’t want to see AAPG become irrelevant.

We need to be transitioning now, and have experienced professionals work with YPs. It will make our current work better and AAPG will be better for it in the future.

President Martinsen already is endorsing the appointment of YPs to leadership positions:

“Many studies have shown that diversity (gender, ethnicity, age, etc.) in a corporation’s or organization’s leadership results in increased performance and higher levels of success. Diversity promotes creativity, fosters communication and thus facilitates achieving the goals of the AAPG organization and best serving its members.

“It is especially important that AAPG seek out young professional members for leadership roles with the ’great crew change’ looming before us.”

In order to have YPs around to volunteer, they need to learn and be heard. We’ve got to make a little room and give a little guidance.

In 15 years, don’t we want someone who was the convention chair to still be available to volunteer and mentor someone?

So how do we begin?

For now: Talk to each other. When you’re considering appointing a committee, think of the YPs at your company and those who have attended AAPG events. Ask them if they are interested. They may not have been asked before.

And to the YPs: Go for it! Fortune favors the bold! It’s rewarding experience and good for you. Get a sponsor and become a Member. You need to do this to chair a committee – and it helps your Section or Region get representation to the House of Delegates.

Currently, AAPG is working to make the committee appointment process more streamlined. With the new website, you will soon be able to edit your profile, state your interests and indicate if you want to be asked to volunteer (and I sincerely hope you will). The committees will be able to access this list of interested individuals whenever committee positions come available.

Look for these changes in the near future!  

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ProTracks: Emily Fisher

Emily Fisher, with Aera Energy in Bakersfield, Calif., is a YP member, member of the Professional Women in Earth Sciences and vice chair of the AAPG Student Chapters Committee.


“ProTracks” is an ongoing feature of the EXPLORER, offering news and information pertinent to getting started or getting better in your career.

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