Young Professionals Group Opens Doors, Alyssa Lynough Says

Alyssa Lynough, ASP, CSP,  spoke with ASSE about how joining a common interest group (CIG) has impacted her career and about how OSH professionals can get the most out of their ASSE membership.

Why did you join ASSE?
I was told by my supervisor at the time to join. It was my first job working with a team of safety professionals. My supervisor sat down with me and told me they wanted to develop me professionally and that the first thing to do was for me to join ASSE.

My company wanted me to join mostly for the networking opportunities, but also so that I could get all of the benefits of membership, such as Professional Safety, which is probably the best professional journal for safety management and safety professionals. The meetings of the Greater Boston Chapter, which I am a member of, are excellent. I have learned so much at every single meeting I have been to. Going to the conferences, having access to ASSE’s web portal, the job portal—it just seems silly not to be a member. It is a great investment.

How has joining a common interest group made an impact on your career?
Volunteering for the Young Professionals CIG has opened a lot of doors by giving me an ability to meet all sorts of safety leaders and other professionals within the society, as well as an opportunity to learn a lot.

The Lunch and Learns, which I coordinate, are often not related to my job. For example, a large percentage of the members in the Young Professionals CIG work in the construction industry, so many Lunch and Learns focus on construction-related topics. As the event organizer, I always attend, but I thought I would probably never use the information. Then, my company started a major construction project at the job site where I was working, and suddenly, all of this construction safety stuff I had learned at the Lunch and Learns was incredibly useful. I’m still not an expert by any means, but I was able to have a conversation at the job site about it.

The best thing I’ve learned is that young professionals are not alone. I think that the safety profession is kind of an older profession. The average age of an ASSE member is somewhere in the 50s. So, I feel that when I first started my career, I suffered from imposter syndrome. I work with folks who have 20 to 30 years’ experience, and here I am, just out of school. I graduated during the recession, so I was competing for jobs with people with decades of experience. How do you handle this situation? How do you talk about the fact that employers may not want to hire you because of your age?

The Young Professionals group gave me an ability to connect with other young professionals who also might be thinking about the awkward situation of working with or having people who are old enough to be your parents report to you. Being able to talk about these types of situations has been a huge help to me.

At the end of the day, the argument I always make is that usually the people who are competing with me for the position have a lot of practical experience. I am from the new generation of safety folks that went straight to school. I went to college for safety. As a freshman, I moved in and thought, “Cool. I am ready to be a safety professional.”

Most safety professionals come to the profession after working in a related job, such as a chemical engineer. Or, they start on the shop floor and work their way up. Everything my colleagues have learned, they learned the hard way. For me, on the other hand, I went to school and to get a degree in safety. We know similar things and we are at a similar level of capability.

Listen to the rest of the interview here:

► “I am from a new generation of safety professionals.”

Alyssa Lynough, ASP, CSP, is the Professional Development Chair of ASSE’s Young Professionals in OSH Common Interest Group (CIG). She is also a member of ASSE’s Greater Boston Chapter and the Women in Safety Engineering CIG.