As the school year begins, an important hot topic to discuss is Membership Recruitment and Retention. These are some tips to help SWE sections, especially collegiate sections, succeed at attracting new members and retaining current members.
Think of your recruitment process as a sales pitch. Why should someone join SWE? What makes SWE unique, setting it apart from other organizations? For many sections, topics to mention in this pitch can include:
- Opportunities to meet new friends
- Social events, professional development, community service, etc.
- Mentoring from upperclassmen
- Fun events, often with free food!
- Scholarship opportunities
Be sure to mention the advantages of becoming a national (paid) member:
- C2C cost savings
- SWE online training webinars
- SWE Career site
- Reduced prices to attend SWE conferences
- Ability to hold section/regional/society positions
- Society scholarships
- Other benefits your section may offer
Besides a pitch, it’s important to make sure to have friendly one-on-one interactions between potential members and existing members. It may be useful to make a competitive game for SWE officers: how many new people can you meet, remembering names and majors? Some potential events for recruiting could be a booth at your campus’s Student Organization Fair, first meeting(s) of the semester (advertise heavily and order plenty of food), or a Back-to-School Cookout.
Later in the year, recruitment efforts can still continue. Try having a social event where SWE members are expected to bring a non-SWE friend. If your school has a Women or Minorities in Engineering program, perhaps there are activities that SWE members could support while interacting with female freshmen studying engineering.
The aspects that recruit freshmen do not always meet the needs of existing members. Think about the long-term goals that change for members as they progress, and what your SWE section can do to support them. Have members expressed a need for improvement? Here are some examples:
- Leadership opportunities
- Officer positions and committee involvement
- Professional development
- Workshops on career fairs/successful interviewing
- Exposure to companies via events and résumé books, job opportunities
- How to negotiate job offers
- Interaction with professors and undergrad research opportunities
- Mentoring from professionals
- Building technical & non-technical skills
- Software skills, car maintenance, etc.
- Effective communication, team leading
- Team Tech competition
- Transitioning to graduate school or to industry
- SWE involvement after college is an excellent way to build a professional and personal network
- Grad SWE community, plus groups exist at many schools
I hope this advice helps you get off to a great start for the year!