All the Cool Kids are Doing It

Author: Alicia Backlund

Date: January 14, 2016

The ABCs of why Level Five gets involved with UXPA, IABC, PMI, etc.

No matter what kind of work you do, there’s probably a professional organization of people who do the same thing. A veritable alphabet soup of clubs. You know — the American Association of This (AAOT), the International Guild of That (IGOT), or the National Brotherhood of The Other (NBOTO).*

You’ve heard it before — professional organizations are a great way to network, stay current on trends, and get energized with new ideas. But, but, but … people! And … talking! And doing work stuff AFTER WORKING HOURS OMG.

We know. Here at Level Five, we mostly like sweatpants and staying home. But we also know that those clichés about getting involved really are true. So, we joined, and we’re going to tell you why, in hopes that you might join too.

Design and UX

Level Five designer Jessica Fertig started with the Industrial Designers Society of America while she was still in school. She admits to mostly selfish motivations, at first: “I realized how important it is to go outside of school to make your resume stand out.”

But never fear — once her career was under way, she redeemed herself by focusing on mentoring new designers. By 2015, she was president of the local IDSA chapter . Her term has now ended, and she’s turned her attention to the KC chapter of the User Experience Professionals Association. She serves as director of community outreach, once again focusing on mentorship and student opportunities.

Designer Amanda Woods Klusmeyer also has a history with UXPA, and helped establish the local chapter of the organization in 2013. “There were a lot of UX people in Kansas City, so we needed a place to get together and talk and learn.”

Amanda’s involvement with the UXPA has slowed a bit, but we’ll give her a pass because she’s now gearing up for an even bigger “get involved” commitment — teaching a graduate-level course in design at the University of Kansas.

Think you have to be an artsy, creative type, with an artsy, creative job to benefit from organizations like this? Nope. User Experience, in particular, can provide an important edge to those of us in marketing, product ownership, and communications. Want to find out how? Learn more about UXPA and its local chapter.

Writing and Communications. And Beer.

Alicia Backlund, our content strategist, is a board member of the KC chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. IABC is geared toward those in public relations, marketing, and internal communications. The KC chapter is extremely active, with monthly educational events, social gatherings, an awards program, and an annual day-long Business Communicators Summit.

Alicia’s also a member of UXPA, and spends a lot of time bothering her fellow communicators about how content and UX can (and should) work together. She’s even put aside her introverted awkwardness to do presentations for both groups.

Designer Brian Devine, aka The Most Interesting Man at Level Five, has put his own twist on being part of a professional community. Brian, who’s also a writer, blogger, and beer traveler, is a member of the North American Guild of Beer Writers.

Obviously, it’s not directly related to his work at Level Five (although we DO enjoy a nice craft brew). Still, he says that switching up his creative medium can have on-the-job benefits. “I spend so much of my day solving visual problems. Writing gives me a different way to look at things.” Plus, you know … beer.

If your work involves getting the word out about your company, product or service, the national and local chapters of IABC are a great place to find help and inspiration. If you enjoy waxing poetic about the merits of a good IPA, now you know there’s a group for that, too.

Project Management

Tying it all together, we have Ron Schroeder, our insights strategist, who's a member of the Project Management Institute. PMI goes a step beyond meetings and mix-and-mingles, providing certification and outlining rigorous standards and practices for the discipline of project management — handy tools for those of you tasked with wrangling a bunch of beer-drinking writers and designers and actually getting projects done. If your work involves any degree of project management, PMI is worth a look.

Your turn

Have we convinced you? Will you turn off the Netflix, put on some pants, and join us at the next meeting of one of these groups? Or seek out the National Organization for Whatever You Do, and pitch in? We bet you’ll be glad you did.

*Okay, these do not actually exist. But feel free to start any or all of them.