By Emily Wolter
Recently, I attended a semi-informal panel of industry and academia professionals, all of whom were members of IFT. While I gained a wide array of insight that could be the subject of many a blog post, one thing that was briefly discussed particularly caught my attention and compelled me to share it with all of our student IFT members.
One of the students in the audience raised their hand and asked something along the lines of “What can students in IFT do to get the most out of their membership?” One of the panel members took the question and started off on what would prove to be a very insightful statement. I was not writing down each and every word, but the gist of it is that many student members of IFT look at the membership as, “What can IFT do for me?”, when in fact it should be quite the opposite, “What can I do for IFT?”. This really struck a chord with me. When I used to be a chapter President, I would encourage club members to join IFT and, more often than not, I got questions like, “Is it worth the $50/year?” or “How would it benefit me? Why join?”. I always felt like I was being caught off guard by these questions and I typically wanted to answer with, “Why wouldn’t you join?”.
IFT is a scientific community “feeding the minds that feed the world”. This scientific organization brings together scientists from around the world to collaborate, learn, and, ultimately, advance the field of food science. As a food science professional, being a part of this community is something that you should feel privileged to do. Volunteer in the community, do your part to develop the organization, contribute to scientific advancements, and encourage others in the industry/profession to do the same.
These are words of wisdom straight from the mouths of some very distinguished industry and academia professionals who have watched our generation enter the field. Take some time to ponder their advice and ask yourself what you can do to apply it to your own situation. These pearls of wisdom apply to all professional communities that you may be involved with, not just IFT. Whether it is IFT or another organization, ask yourself how you can get involved as an active member. Are you volunteering as a leader in the community through avenues such as a board member or committee member? Contributing to discussion in division meetings? Volunteering for annual events like the Fun Run or IFTCares?
Take this moment to consider “What am I doing as a member of IFT to contribute to the scientific community?” and share your thoughts/ideas in the comments. Not a member of IFT yet? Think of it in the context of another organization that you are involved with and/or consider if becoming a member of IFT would be right for you.