I got a letter the other day, which I found rather surprising. It was a letter from the American Chemical Society, giving me one more chance to remain a member in good standing of the Society.
Let me backtrack a moment. I was a member of the ACS in 2009 and the years before it, but it was not a big deal, as the dues were paid by my employer as a perk for working there. I went to a few national meetings and collected a pile of Chemical & Engineering News on my desk, but that was really about the extent of my involvement. So my dues were paid up for the year when I was laid off, which should have been useful, as the ACS do have some useful resources for job searching, but advertised positions were thin on the ground (check ChemJobber’s blog for confirmation) and I doubt many jobs were being filled by that route anyway.
In any case, I found a new job, albeit one under a contract and more limited perks. When it came around to renew membership, I had to think hard. If I had not yet found a job, it would have been easy, for they do have something to offer, not to mention that dues are waived for at least two years for the unemployed. But I was employed, dues were not going to be waived and times were tight. Could I justify the $145? What would I get out of it? And put in that context, it was clear to me that it was not worth it.
Consider the benefits:
1. Reduced registration for ACS meetings.
I have been to a few ACS meetings, the national meetings are enormous and you can certainly find some interesting chemistry there. But I don’t go every year in any case and I don’t foresee me going in the next few years. So the discount for that one meeting is not enough to make a continued membership worthwhile. As for a local meeting, the last regional ACS meeting relevant to my area was held in Puerto Rico, which is all nice and everything, but it is way too far for a “local” event. Plus, the area I am working in has its own meetings which I have been to one so far, much smaller and more interactive. ACS membership was not a useful asset there.
2. Chemical & Engineering News
It is a diverting read on occasion, even the back and forth between the editor and outraged readers is amusing in small doses. But there are plenty of places to get news, even chemisty news.
3. Reduced rates for journals
You mean the journals I get to read courtesy of my employer’s subscription? Why do I need a personal copy?
I’d hate to see what would have happened to the rate of lay-offs and outsourcing if the ACS had not been representing us in Washington DC.
5. Job Searching Services
Here they do quite well, offering articles, a place to post a resume, ads, plus the job fair at the ACS meetings. But many of these things are offered elsewhere. A local network (especially for someone who is reluctant to move, like me) is much more needed than a national level one. Plus, I did not find my current job through the ACS so why can I not find my next one without them?
I appear to have run out of reasons. None have compelled me to renew this year. The letter I got this week from the ACS sounded like they wanted me as a member (so they can say they have so many members?) more than I wanted to pay to be one. After all, if someone does not pay their dues, who keeps chasing them for 7 or 8 months?
Anyone out there able to offer a reason why I should not have left? I think we’ll just remember the good times we had and move on.