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#SMPSCTWeek2020: Cynthia Colon

The Day I Met SMPS

So there I was – sitting at a desk that didn’t quite feel like mine. “What now?” I thought, as I looked around the office wide-eyed. Fresh out of college and fresh out of self-assurance, I felt tiny in this big, unknown world.

The Marketing Director then came from her office and announced, “We need to sign you up for SMPS! It’s a must.” I had no idea what she was talking about or what any of those letters stood for, but judging from the keenness in her voice and a swift motion to pull up the website on my computer, I knew it was important. She explained that SMPS was an organization dedicated to the support and professional development of marketing and business development professionals, as well as technical staff, in the AEC industry. I didn’t understand all of this at the time, but I at least understood that as soon as I had walked into my new role, SMPS was there for me.

My first program was “Building Effective Relationships and Momentum for the Future” with Julie Brown. I scurried through the crowd looking for a familiar face I could hide behind and prayed no one would talk to me on my quest to find one (networking, who?). But when I finally quieted my internal frenzy, I could make out the welcoming smiles, warm laughter, and friendly banter around the room. After the presentation, I was blown away that this resource was available to us, and that people who were 20 years into their career were still learning, just like me. Don’t get me wrong – the seemingly vast sea of people was extremely intimidating, but knowing this little fish wasn’t alone in that sea was comforting. I now understood why SMPS was a “must.”

What pushed me to become a volunteer so early in my career was the desire to do and be more, and an understanding that what you give is what you get. I not only wanted to give back and breathe life into an organization I wished to see thrive, but I also knew the benefits of becoming a volunteer would manifest instantly. I sought to challenge myself, learn, grow, meet new people, and be part of a supportive community. I got exactly that and more. I don’t think I would be as confident and comfortable in my role as a young emerging professional without SMPS and all of its programs, people, and resources. I gained new skills, mentors and friends, the opportunity to be an integral part of the diversity that exists, and a part of the push for the diversity that doesn’t. I am a part of something bigger.

Almost two years later, I still get nervous when meeting new people, occasionally stumble my words, and a question mark seems to pop up in my head more than a light bulb does. I have a lot of learning to do. But the day I met SMPS and all of the people in it, I realized I wasn’t alone on that journey.


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