"My relationship with the BCS started as victim support," says the society's president Geoff McMullen, who has worked in IT for nearly 40 years. "I woke up one morning and found myself a project manager at 23. Someone I worked with suggested I might go to a BCS branch meeting. I found a lot of other people in similar situations, and by talking we identified common problems and ways of addressing them. "That really helped me, and I later got interested in some specialist groups. In 1980 I got involved in BCS skill definition activities. By 1990 I was feeling it was time to give something back, so I started on BCS committees. "I have had a great deal of companionship through the BCS. Challenges from colleagues in the society have helped me frame my thinking on a lot of aspects of my work, and being a member has given me a sense of personal worth. "All this still holds for BCS members. Companionship is still very important, through branches, specialist groups, the Young Professionals Group and forums." Younger members in the early years of their IT careers agree. "BCS branches and the Young Professionals Group are strong communities with many friendly and welcoming members," says analyst programmer Martine McFarlane, who is a member of the Young Professionals Group committee. "They are there to help you. Whether it is finding a student placement or even a job, networking with fellow professionals, borrowing books from the library or taking part in competitions, it is your community and I would strongly urge everyone to take part." James Hickson, vice-chairman of the Young Professionals Group, says, "There are many opportunities for participation in the BCS. If you just want to attend a monthly branch seminar or other meeting you will be very welcome. And if you take that extra step and become involved in the branch, specialist groups or BCS forums or committees, this is where real benefits can be gained." Peter Crouch, chairman of the Birmingham Branch of the BCS, says, "Being a member of the branch committee gives you experience in working as part of a team, making contact with outside organisations and putting your ideas forward to a group or meeting." Anthony Parker of the Bristol Branch says, "I found that with over 30 branches, all with their own schedule of events, I could find interesting lectures and seminars on various technologies and career paths, while meeting interesting people from many backgrounds. People at my local branch were very helpful and advised me on many BCS activities, including the Continuing Professional Development scheme, which has helped me formulate my career ambitions and targets. I would urge everyone to use their local BCS branch."
Taking part in a professional body brings valuable personal benefits throughout a career, so say both senior and junior members of the BCS who have got actively involved with the society.
Read more on IT jobs and recruitment