When I first heard that AWC was going to offer a certification program, I was really excited. For several years, I had watched coworkers who worked in other fields achieve certification in their career field and I, too, wanted to “prove” my skills in my chosen field, communications. I think we all assume that we are good at what we do, but when it comes to having to prove our reputation and our skills on paper or through the computer, it can be an arduous and revealing task. I had no idea what to expect from the Matrix Foundation’s program, but I did know the high standards that AWC had always upheld. So naturally, I assumed the program would be well thought out and aligned to the highest standards of professionalism. And as it turns out, I was right.
After applying for the certification program, because the program was new, I kept in touch with Anne Hecker to find out when program materials would be mailed to me. I could have called other people, but because Anne had spoken about the program at the last national conference, I felt a connection to her; she had spoken with so much enthusiasm and ownership about the certification program. She was always quick to respond to my every question and soon, as Anne had promised, I had the packet of materials for completion for the program.
I should have known what was ahead for me by the weight of the envelope. As I eagerly tore open the brown envelope and thumbed through the materials, I quickly learned that I would be required to prove my experience on three different levels . . . education, on-the-job experience, and volunteer activities. There would be nothing left for me to wonder about or question Anne about. Each of the three sections were clearly divided into subsections, with room for me to fill out required information and assign a point total for my experience. The certification is based on a point system; you achieve points by satisfying requirements in each of the three fields. Those points are totaled and a minimum point score is required for certification. All experience and activities are based on the last five years.
I was surprised at how quickly I was able to fill out the pages and I was surprised, too, at how many projects I had done in the last five years. At first, I had wondered if I had the experience within that five years to satisfy all the requirements, but I quickly found that I had to pick and choose from a variety of past tasks and experiences to fill the required pages. The one thing that I found I got from the experience was something that I had not expected. Going through the process was positive reinforcement for my experience and for the skills that I often take for granted. In going through my notebook prior to mailing it to the Matrix Foundation for consideration, I felt a sense of pride at all of the many activities and programs that I had been a part of in the last 60 months.
Although the wait to hear if I would receive certification seemed to take years, it was only a matter of weeks before I knew the answer. I can’t tell you how excited and thrilled I was when I got the call from Anne Hecker that not only had I successfully satisfied all the requirements for certification, but that I would be the first person certified under the new program. She continued by saying that 12 people had applied for certification. So I hope that soon 11 other people will be joining me as a Certified Communications Professional.
I highly recommend the certification process for any professional communicator. The certification is wonderful to have, but more importantly, it’s even more rewarding to remind yourself of the many skills and the level of experience you have achieved in your career.
Cindy Wallace, C.C.P.