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August 10, 2004

Why become a CAE?

Well, simply put, I want to make music my living -- I mean -- I want to make association management my living. I suppose I'm already doing that (most associations are non-profit, but I'm certainly making a profit).

All kidding aside, association work is the field I've chosen to work in for the foreseeable future. It's extremely steady work, it pays pretty well and I find it very fun and fulfilling. So, my decision to take the CAE exam was based on my desire to continue working in associations and to learn about the compartments of associations that I don't work in on a day-to-day basis in order to gain a more balanced view of my role within my company. Plus, it can't hurt my career to add some initials behind my name that are recognizable in the association community. I've had a few co-workers and supervisors tell me that they think I'm CEO material. And while that's very flattering, I'm not so sure I am (honestly). But if, after many years of professional development, I ever decide to go that way, the CAE will help me get there.

In short, becoming a CAE is a wise investment in my professional future. I'm also looking forward to enhancing my knowledge of those areas of associations in which I don't currently operate.

I wrestled for several months with the decision to take the CAE exam early in my career; I'll be taking it at my first opportunity. If I pass this December, I will become a CAE before my 30th birthday. It's certainly possible to pass the exam at an earlier age, but I don't personally know anyone who has (I can think of one person who may have been under 30 when she passed). From talking to the CAEs I know, they all tested in their thirties or forties. Everyone says the exam tests your situational knowledge and that the longer your experience, the better. Obviously, at just five years experience, I don't have a lot of history from which to draw. And I am only an average test-taker. I had average scores on my SATs.

However, I've also never met or talked with anyone who failed the exam (but some people must fail). Close colleagues and complete strangers have encouraged me to test. The preparatory materials are readily available and my employer agreed to cover the cost of a review course (I'll write more about my strategy for preparing in future posts).

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Ben! I've posted my CAE notes from when I studied for the exam. You can view them here: http://www.highcontext.com/cae.php

-David Gammel

Ben said...

Thanks, David, for the notes. I know this will be helpful to me and others.