By Georgie Aley, CEO AIFST

When I graduated from university, figuring out what my next move would be, and how I would do it was a daunting prospect. I remember joining two member organisations, the Future Farmers Network and NSW Farm Writers Association, both of which opened my eyes to a vast network of agriculture, agribusiness and food industry professionals. As I continue further down my career path, it still keeps me a step ahead. Here are five reasons why those membership fees are worth it for your career:

Contacts, contacts, contacts!
Joining a member organisation means you join a community of like-minded professionals. They tend to host both professional and social events throughout the year, which are both great ways to get to know your industry peers, and more importantly, for them to get to know you. For instance, AIFST holds an annual Convention each year across Australia, which is an excellent opportunity for networking across the different industry areas. In addition, we host several events at a state and special interest level, allowing you even further opportunity to build direct peer networks.

This is particularly helpful when you are starting out in the food industry, through keeping up with who’s who in the industry, which can open up future opportunities for your career.

Member only industry events
Most industry organisations hold regular events as a way of engaging members, refreshing skill capability and creating value for membership. As the food industry and environment is constantly evolving, it is crucial for those in the food industry to regularly update their skills to stay up-to-date.

For instance, through AIFST’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program, members are granted discounted access to an annual calendar of workshops and events designed to support ongoing skill and capability building. AIFST membership is also recognised by many organisations that offer members discounts to access additional food industry events!

Boost your resume and credentials
One of the things that continue to help me throughout my career is the fact that I am a member of specific organisations, including AIFST and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. A key aspect of applying for any position is demonstrating a commitment and passion for your industry and ongoing personal development. Being part of specific membership organisations has put me in good stead for standing apart from my competitors and continues to provide me with strong industry linkages and updates on key aspects that affect me in my current position.

Professional development
Even once you finish studying, you never stop learning. In an industry like ours that changes day-to-day, it is important to continue learning and developing your skills to help you progress your career. These great professional development courses, such as AIFST’s CPD program, allow members to pool their knowledge and take advantage of each other’s experiences.

Another key benefit of belonging to a membership organisation is access to a range of scholarships and awards that support your access to a vast array of career development opportunities.

Latest industry knowledge
Being a member of an industry organisation helps me stay on top of the latest industry news and insights. Knowing what’s going on in your industry will always help you in the workplace. AIFST shares the latest news and insights with its members regularly, with monthly e-newsletters, a bi-monthly members-only industry journal, and active social channels to keep members informed.

If you would like join AIFST in 2016 or renew your membership, please visit: https://www.aifst.asn.au/members/