Recently, we attended the first of many graduation ceremonies this summer. It involved elevating 19 four-year-olds to kindergarten and involved songs, squirming children on stage, caps and tassels, and proud family members.
As the graduates’ names were announced and given a diploma, the teacher shared what each student wanted to be when he or she grew up. As I recall, there were a couple of doctors, three police officers, two moms, and a cowgirl.
Yes, the cowgirl was my niece. I leaned over to my sister — and half-chiding — asked what the employment outlook was for a cowgirl in the far west suburbs of Chicago.
Later there was a discussion about doing what we enjoy as a career versus fitting a mold. Chasing our dreams was important and more preferred than chasing a paycheck. Happiness is where we make it.
I don’t know what Maddi will do when she is older. There may be a need for a cowgirl. She may change her mind.
I am fortunate, however, to know so many association and chamber professionals who do enjoy their career. I doubt any of them would have expressed their interest in pursuing this career path when they were entering kindergarten. I know I didn’t.
I am fortunate, however, that I did wind up here. I am empowered to collaborate with my peers to build our profession. I enjoy working with other community leaders to shape my community’s future. I am energized when working with students, encouraging them to value their education and personal development. In doing so, I continue to learn from my peers and to grow myself.
It is our responsibility to make sure that we are preparing our organizations and communities for the future. It is not a role we take lightly. Your dedication to the profession is inspiring – whether an entry level role in a local chamber to the executive in a national association.
By the way, not one of the 19 stated he or she wanted to be a chamber or association professional. But maybe we can change that. There were, however, five or six that wanted to be princesses. At least Maddi picked a career with less competition.