Where are we failing them?

Recently, I attended the AGM for the IEEE Delhi Section, and across 3 major affinity groups and meetings, a major agenda was the membership stats. The WIE and GOLD affinity groups had a measly three-four attendance. At the GINI F2F Provisional Working Committee meeting, the mjor issues spoken about was mostly similar. I’ve been wondering ever since Prasanna pulled me on board to mentor IEEE Delhi GINI, why do we always have a crunch with numbers. More importantly, why do member numbers fall drastically post junior year in college?

I think I might just have figured it out. Whenever I spoke to my juniors in college, they were fast enough at saying – “There’s no point in an IEEE Membership!” And I’m sure they were probably right – because they never got much out of it. Not everybody loves to rant (as Imran and RC put it), and not all of them get what they thought they’d get when they joined. Of course, a lot of them joined just to work for a year or two for an EXECOM post or an organisation certificate. Even then, somewhere, I believe, we could have changed their mindset … we just didn’t try.

I’m sure the IEEE is pretty much a technical organisation that fosters and aids research, technical development, and even leadership skills … makes the IEEE sound like a fairly serious affair. That’s good for some of us intense folks .. and not so good for people who take more time to realize the world’s not all fun – or there are more ways to have fun than hanging out with friends, watching movies, relationships and … you get the hang of it :)!

So what if we could let everyone in IEEE feel important? What if it’s not just the mindsets of our volunteers but also of the IEEE spokespersons that’s at fault? Have we as student branch leaders ever tried to retain our members by doing for a change what they want? Dance shows, Fash Ps, sports, literature? Every technocrat does not necessarily have a single track geek mind… we do have other interests, and it’s nice to have IEEE encompass all of that – you know – to have people say – you’re important to IEEE because hey you’re not just an Engineer but also an awesome guitarist!!

Another trend that I’ve seen especially in Delhi – we seem to be fixated on select volunteers – don’t give others a chance, don’t tell the others what’s going on – we trust some faces and we keep trusting them – no fair. How is it that every two years I get to see active and enthusiastic new members from the Kerala Section? In Delhi we do too much of oral recommending, handpicking, lobbying.. it’s time to stop that.

In Delhi, the help others model of LINK may not work so well for a number of reasons, the biggest being family background and regional culture – no kidding, but parents don’t want their kids to do things that don’t satisfy an ulterior motive, which ultimately doesn’t get a better package or a better degree or a better something.. ! In a culture where the trend is towards doing things that serve rather than doing things you like we’re just going to have to find a way to make sure IEEE at the SB level serves all.

So let’s try and personalize IEEE – you know MY IEEE to the core … instill a sense of pride and achievement that a volunteer inherently associates with IEEE. A strong and connected mentoring, a good choice of leaders, and open mindedness – things we’ve missed in IEEE, because honestly we’ve let things run by the old school too long!

I’m still thinking the how to part, and I hope you will too …

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