Students and Young Professionals of the Student Chapter Committee feel they have benefit from AAPG membership because of the ease of becoming a member, the abundant networking opportunities that AAPG provides, and the ability to be involved immediately in impacting the organization.
“Join for the contacts, stay for the community,” as one student said. Liaisons portrayed the importance of those early bonds creating great relationships and strong professional development that sustain them throughout their careers. There was also discussion about the quality of people and industry opportunities not found in any other organization.
Students value the technical offerings of AAPG but benefit from the soft skills benefits just as much, if not more. They wanted to portray all of their abilities and skills to colleagues and potential recruiters. Most of the goals in the room were related to growing their careers professionally in oil and gas, and in most cases AAPG was a part of that growth. Everyone also felt compelled to "pay it forward" and that the act of giving back is just as important and rewarding.
Finally, the strong message on sustainable development emphasized that each person, as a leader, must spread the word on the importance of responsibility in O&G exploration practices at each person’s respective company or university going forward. This meant something a little different for each person.
Students and liaisons came up with great ideas for fundraising, keeping in mind that some ideas work better in certain chapters more than others. Field trips and off campus trips were discussed, also being a good way to bond. Fundraising at restaurants and bars have been very successful in some areas. Auctioning items off such as rocks, art, and gear was a popular way to get people excited. Additionally, doing contests for prizes such as trivia, cook-offs, and golf tournaments have been done and work very well at bringing out people’s competitive side! These were a few of many ideas that were discussed.
There was a lot of conversation around how AAPG can improve on catering to the needs of more students and young professionals. In discussing value proposition, the underlying theme was bridging the gap between members, young professionals, and students. Membership has been declining over the years, due mostly to AAPG veterans retiring and of course to the downturn. Membership growth has to start with the students, and so it is important that students not only have an incentive to join but more importantly to stay.
Ideas for creating this “bridge” included having more regional guidance and individual mentorship. This would hopefully allow the students and young professionals to know more of what AAPG has to offer, how they can grow their careers, and how they can be more involved with the organization. More advertising was discussed to get more visibility to everyone of what programs are available. Sponsorships allowing more access to things like Datapages to students was a big request. AAPG is working on a portal that will bring make communication easier and bridge the gap, and the ideas generated will better shape the outcome. The biggest impact seemed to be the growth potential AAPG has into social media. Although there is a presence, few students knew much about AAPG’s social media presence. This can be a great communication and feedback avenue for younger generations of new and future members of AAPG the keeps the organization growing.
To sum up the message from the conference: Communication, Access, Advertising, and Sustainable Development. Most of the topics discussed fall under these categories. Several of these issues the students pointed out are currently being addressed by AAPG HQ, and the feedback is going to help AAPG make it better for these individuals. There was good synergy among the students and young professional liaisons, and we felt that many people left feeling motivated to take these ideas back to their chapters and sections and apply why they had learned. Overall successful conference generating innovative ideas to make AAPG better but more importantly, to progress these young leaders’ personal and professional development!