5 Easy Steps to Becoming an AAST Committee or Board Member Volunteer
How can I become an AAST board member? Why is volunteering for the AAST worth it?
Most boards seek from within for candidates to hold positions. They look for volunteers with such attributes as time management, knowledge of topic, and ability to work as part of a team. This is fairly universal and I can speak to its validity in volunteer entities outside of the Sleep Medicine field in non-profit boards.
Most boards choose their members from their committee members. Committee members who participate and lead or work well as part of the team are sought to fill board vacancies.
There are steps you must take if you are interested in serving on a committee or board and often that means starting at the bottom and working your way up to greater responsibilities and opportunities. This is not just for the benefit of the board. It allows both the association and the candidate to make sure the relationship will be mutually beneficial.
Step 1: Find Your Passion
Your first step should not be filling out a volunteer form. Your first step is to find something you are passionate about and believe in. It has to be something you are willing to commit your time and energy to for the benefit of others.
Ultimately, serving on a committee or board is serving others and for the greater good of the organization. It is not specifically to benefit the advancement of ain individual, although you will certainly learn and grow from the experience if you have an open mind.
Step 2: Do Your Research
Talk with someone already serving in some way. Show up to the organization's events, meet with the other volunteers and/or board members, research and ask questions about exactly what it is they do on different committees and what is expected of members.
You want to make sure your skill set is appropriate, useful, and that you will bring unique talents and experience to the organization.
Make sure you also have adequate time and energy to dedicate to the committee or board. Sometimes volunteers underestimate the time they will be spending on conferences and calls as well as performing work for the organization.
Step 3: Be Self Aware and Honest About Your Time Management Skills
Every committee has work that needs to be done in a timely manner. You are expected to come to your meeting prepared and to be on time. If you are not someone who can make meetings and be someplace on time (even if it is on the phone) and prepared, then being on a committee or even a subcommittee may not be for you. There are many other areas in which you can volunteer such as writing or marketing for the organization.
Committees and subcommittees track your attendance and participation. If you miss too many meetings or do not get your tasks completed, you may sully your reputation; your membership on that committee will most likely be short lived!
On the flip side, if you are prompt, on time, prepared, and always complete your tasks, your committee chair and co-chair are going to recommend you for greater challenges on that committee – or perhaps to be on another committee that has potentially more influence and therefore more responsibility (IE: a heavier workload) too.
You should be open to suggestions to move to a different committee. At the same time, if you know that your lifestyle will not allow you to fulfill the commitments of a higher position or the work of a different committee at this time, don't be afraid to say so. Board members appreciate honesty when it comes to your time limitations.
Step 4: Be Involved for the Right Reasons
You are not serving to receive praise and glory. You may or may not receive kudos. The satisfaction of a job well done to the best of your ability has to come from within.
You also need to be the kind of person that is willing to share credit, success, and even an occasional failure as part of the team with your other committee members.
As they say– "There is no 'I' in TEAM!" There may be occasions when you may give someone else credit for an idea or work that was your own. Not only is this great character building, but it will not go unnoticed by the right people.
Remember it is about the work you are doing, getting it done, and the satisfaction that comes as a by product – not personal recognition.
Step 5: Fill Out the Form to Volunteer
If you think you are a good fit, have some free time and energy, and can thrive within the framework outlined above – now is the time to submit your volunteer application. The AAST is always looking for committee volunteers! If you are accepted, be ready and willing to get right to work. Amazing people working together can accomplish amazing things.
Here is how to become a volunteer:
Write a brief letter of interest
Send resume or Curriculum Vitae (no longer than 3 pages)
Attach and submit all of the previous documents to: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author, Lisa Bond
Lisa Bond, RST, RPSGT, has spent more than half of her 20-year-plus tenure in the healthcare field helping people get the sleep they need. On June 8, during the 37th AAST annual meeting she was awarded for her “significant contributions to the growth and development of the sleep technology profession.”
She has been a regular contributor since the blog's founding in 2015. To read more of her articles, click here.