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Student Members: Will IEEE be Your Lifelong Professional Home?

By Tom Coughlin

IEEE is the largest professional technical organization in the world, with more than 400,000 members in 190 countries. IEEE’s vision is to foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. IEEE is essential to the global technical community and to technical professionals everywhere, and is universally recognized for its contributions to technology and for its technical professionals’ role in improving global conditions

At its core, however, IEEE exists because of and to in order to serve its members. As an IEEE student member, we want you to know that IEEE is much more than a student club. It is a community that can help you build and sustain a successful career as a technical professional. We think we have a lot to offer, but the needs of our members are constantly changing and evolving, and we need to know what you need, and what would make you want the IEEE to be your professional home for life.

As a student member, IEEE can be used as a resource for acquiring experience, skill-building, and building a network of contacts that will help you stand out from the crowd when you begin to interview for jobs. IEEE offers student IEEE membership certificates that can be added to your professional portfolio or resume as you embark on your technical career. IEEE student membership can also get you discounts to IEEE conferences and access to various IEEE publications, depending upon what other IEEE memberships you may have (e.g. student society member).

Lifelong career vitality as a technical professional also requires a variety of soft skills – the ability to network and communicate well, to lead and to work well with others – along with a commitment to manage your career. IEEE (and IEEE-USA for U.S. members) helps fill this niche with resources you can use to develop and refine the career and professional skills needed for success.

Whatever your intended career path, IEEE can offer information, networks and resources to help you along the way.

Technical Activities

Once you’ve graduated, your success will depend in large part on making use of a combination of soft and hard skills, coupled with your ability to keep pace with rapidly changing technology. IEEE offers many tools designed to help a busy technical professional, like you will be, keep up with new and emerging technology, as well as important technical and business trends. IEEE is where forward-thinking technological professionals collaboratively discover the next technological innovations, keep themselves educated, develop international standards, and network and form technical communities.


IEEE’s technical societies and communities provide ways to build professional networks and engage with technology of interest to you through publishing, attending and participating in conferences, working on related technical standards and many other activities. We do this through our 39 technical societies and seven cross-cutting technical councils, over 1,800 annual conferences, more than 170 technical publications (with 5 million published technical documents), and 1,200 active standards – all of which are helping chart the path to our technology future. You can find out about these diverse activities through IEEE Technical Activities.

Many of these technical communities and societies are associated with IEEE Future Direction Initiatives, which are focused on some of the hottest technical topics such as electronic interfaces to the brain, digital transformation, future communication networks and the future of computing.

The IEEE Learning Network (ILN) is a new resource created to help IEEE members find educational materials from across IEEE, that can help you keep your knowledge and technical skills sharp and discover interesting emerging technical opportunities. The ILN is offering training materials on career development, power and energy, emerging technologies, new models for computing, telecommunications, English for Engineering, transportation technology, IEEE Standards, and many other topics. You can find out more and try one of these courses via the ILN catalog.

Local Activities

Wherever you live or work, there is likely a local IEEE Section that may have chapters of IEEE technical societies or other special interest groups (called Affinity Groups) on emerging multi-disciplinary technologies. While you are still in school or when you start to work, these local chapters can be a great way to network with folks interested in various topics, learn about the latest developments, or discover useful tips and tricks that you can use in your daily work and finding new career opportunities. These local Sections, Chapters and Affinity Groups can also give you opportunities to be a volunteer and learn important leadership skills.

Affinity Groups & Special Communities

IEEE Young Professionals is the first stop for you after graduation. Young Professionals is the group of IEEE members and volunteers who have graduated from their first professional degree within the past 15 years. It is an international community, whose members are interested in elevating their professional image, expanding their global network, connecting with peers locally and giving back to their community.


IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) is a global network of IEEE members and volunteers dedicated to promoting women engineers and scientists, and inspiring girls around the world to follow their academic interests in a career in engineering and science. Both women and men – students or graduates – can become members of IEEE’s Women in Engineering (WIE), which provides additional support and value.

Budding technology entrepreneurs can look to IEEE Entrepreneurship for a public community designed for technology startups, young professionals, investors and venture capital organizations. The IEEE N3XT events bring together technical entrepreneurs to foster the spirit of collaboration and innovation and provide encouragement and skills for entrepreneurs to make their mark.

If the freedom of freelancing appeals, the IEEE Consultants Network, IEEE-USA Consultant Finder, and local Consultants networking groups located in many sections around the world provide both global and local networks of peers and potential mentors, supplemented by webinars, workshops, online directories and other resources offered by IEEE-USA and other IEEE entities.


IEEE members living in the United States can also look to IEEE-USA, which serves young professionals by providing targeted career-relevant content covering critical non-technical skills needed for professional success and advancement. IEEE-USA provides resources to assist a job search or career transition, including the ability to benchmark a salary offer. It provides information on trends and issues affecting the profession and its future. IEEE-USA offers insight and a voice in Washington on the public policy issues and decisions that affect and concern S&T professionals. It also creates opportunities for Young Professionals to become engaged – to learn by doing – to connect and to make a personal difference.

IEEE-USA has an extensive collection of webinars on personal development and soft-skills training that are available to all IEEE members. IEEE-USA Webinars are designed to help you find your next job, maintain your career, negotiate an appropriate salary, understand ethical considerations in the workplace and learn about other career-building strategies and public policy developments that affect your profession.

IEEE-USA also has an extensive collection of more than 250 e-books and audiobooks that provide tips for young engineers, help for women to break through barriers at work, project management skills, ways to become a skilled employee, how to start your own business and how to get involved in public policy.

The IEEE-USA Leadership Connection is emailed monthly to about 42,000 young professionals and students subscribers with relevant content including webinars, videos, articles, e-books and special free and discounted offers. The newsletter connects you to material from throughout the IEEE. IEEE and IEEE-USA also have active social media feeds that you can follow and participate in.

If you live in the United States and are interested in public policy, IEEE-USA offers many public policy committees on many technical and career topics driven by our volunteer IEEE leaders. IEEE-USA also offers its Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) open to undergraduate juniors and seniors, and graduate students. IEEE also has public policy activities in Europe and other parts of the world.

IEEE members residing in other regions can look to their IEEE Region and/or national sections for a host of other local activities and resources, more of which are being constantly added as IEEE grows worldwide.

As you can see, IEEE can be your lifelong professional home and meet your long-term technical and social needs. The best way to realize the true value of IEEE is by engaging with the organization and with IEEE colleagues. Likely you will have many jobs at many organizations during your career. IEEE can provide you with professional contacts and a community that can provide you with support, advice and mentoring when you need it and independent of where you work.

What do you want from IEEE?

If you are an IEEE Student Member, we are interested in your input on what IEEE can offer that would create a compelling interest for you to want to become and remain an IEEE higher grade member after graduation. We want to make sure we are growing and changing to meet your current and future needs. If you have any ideas you want to share and want to discuss these topics please join the IEEE Global Student Exchange and talk with us and your peers about what we could do to create a more inclusive and responsive IEEE.

Tom Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates is a digital storage analyst and business and technology consultant. He has over 37 years in the data storage industry with engineering and management positions at several companies. Coughlin Associates consults, publishes books and market and technology reports (including The Media and Entertainment Storage Report and an Emerging Memory Report), and puts on digital storage-oriented events. He is a regular storage and memory contributor for and M&E organization websites. He is an IEEE Fellow, Past-President of IEEE-USA and is active with SNIA and SMPTE. For more information on Tom Coughlin and his publications and activities go to

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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