By Zoe Arugay & Art Ilano
“What do you get from being a Mensa member?”
It’s an often-asked question that, admittedly, can often be quite a challenge to answer. But that’s because the benefits that you get from Mensa membership are quite nuanced. You do not just get one single big thing out of it. Rather, you get a lot of little things that, taken together, add up to a whole lot of value. Not just for your professional life, but for your personal life as well!
So how does being a Mensa member benefit you?
You get a genius-level professional network.
Members come from diverse backgrounds and professions, but being able to think on the same frequency allows members to work together. They may even point you towards new, out-of-the-box directions that you need for work. Mensa members include everyone from students to military men & women, lawyers, BPO agents, IT specialists, doctors, writers, entrepreneurs, educators, media practitioners, and even a pastor (or two).
Mensans do have a reputation for being critical thinkers, which is a skill that is sought after by high-value-creating firms. For instance, one Mensan who is the owner of a successful online security service confides that their firm prioritizes applicants who are also Mensa members as Mensans have a reputation for doing quality technical work.
So if you’re seeking a network that gives you access to technical and professional excellence, then Mensa is a smart starting point for you. And since Mensa is an international society, your potential network can really span far and wide!
You get that extra boost of confidence.
Zabeda Abdul Hamid of Malaysian Mensa thought she wasn’t as clever as the rest of her family. “After I took the Mensa test and passed, I realized that maybe I did have something to offer to the community. I became more confident, more sociable, and I took the opportunity to learn more things. It was basically a change in the mindset -psychologically and emotionally.”
“At the same time, the interesting information and knowledge that I gained from other Mensans as well as experiences when I attend the Mensa gatherings have also equipped me with better teaching methods and information for my students. So indirectly, yes, I do think that Mensa has helped me in my profession.”
You get a family wherever you go.
Tinka Herrera, a long-time member of Mensa Philippines, moved to Kuala Lumpur for a short-term work assignment and some of the first friends she made there were through the local Mensa chapter. “It helped a lot because I didn’t really know anyone in KL. The first couple of weeks were pretty lonely. Knowing like-minded locals who were so nice and fun to talk to really helped me settle in. They took me to a lot of good local (and sometimes out of the way or hidden food places) that I would never have found on my own! I’ve met lots of new people to have adventures with through Mensa, and I now consider them some of the best friends I’ve made!”
Mensa members always have something in common despite the differences in culture, religion, or even political affiliation. This rings true for Cedric Mabilotte, a social entrepreneur and a member from France. He has met Mensa members outside his chapter through his travels, including the Philippines. “There are so many important aspects to consider when we self-reflect, like understanding that it is normal to be different, or that we all process things differently. Thanks to Mensa, I met other crazy people around the planet who can relate to these same thoughts.”
You’ll always find a Mensan who can help you around.
Using an international Mensa service called SIGHT – the Service of Information, Guidance and Hospitality to Travelers- members will be able to quickly link up with people who can help navigate unfamiliar territory. SIGHT enables Mensa members to link up with fellow Mensans in over 40 countries. This can be in the form of showing tourists around, or guiding them on where to stay or dine. And the great thing about it all is that Mensans are duty-bound to help fellow Mensans, wherever they may come from!
You get scholarships aplenty.
Ryan Gerard Menchate is 8 years old, and has been a Mensa Philippines member for three years. He says that he enjoys getting to hang out with “really cool people” – his intellectual peers – with whom he can be himself. But through the assistance of American Mensa’s Gifted Youth Coordinator, Ryan was able to enroll in the Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) of Stanford University. In addition, he was taken in as part of the Bright Kids class of American Mensa.
Many international Mensa Scholarships are open to Mensa Philippines members. The Mensa Foundation’s scholarships, for instance, are specifically for international members attending colleges outside of the US. Dependents of international Mensa members attending college in the United States may also be given opportunities to qualify for scholarships through the foundation.
You have special interests?
One of Mensa’s stated purposes is to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members. And since members love to learn more about what piques their interest, Mensa encourages them to join or create Special Interest Groups, or SIGs.
SIGs exist online or locally, and you can join as many as you like wherever it may be. There are SIGs for cosplay, chess, gardening, photography, ramen, running, and probably whatever quirky interest you may have. Some of the SIGs we have in the Philippine chapter include SIG for Adventure (or SIGA), a group of TED enthusiasts called SIGhTED, a stock investment SIG (SISIG), a puzzle group called the Breakfast Club, a movie group called Sine Gang, gun enthusiasts in SIG-Guns, and a supposedly mature group of drinkers called AA (that stands for alcohol appreciation)!
And if you want to learn about even more different things, Mensa Philippines has regular Brown Bag sessions. Pitched as casual introductory courses about anything and everything, Brown Bags may just jump start or fuel your next new passion. Members have learned self defense with arnis, got to try their hands at boxing and fencing; received workshops on first aid and basic life support, learned contract bridge, got to savor beer pairing and learned how to make comics. They have gone on outdoor adventures such as bird watching at the University of the Philippines, and got to try sailing on their own at Taal Lake. They’ve familiarized themselves with online rights and the different personality types, and even took a shot at being voice actors for a day!
You get to join national and international gatherings
Initially intended as a meet and greet, Annual Gatherings have expanded to become a venue to reconnect with members and be updated on what’s new in the national chapter. International gatherings have grown to become a heterogeneous collection of programs, forums, games and entertainment, and is the perfect excuse to travel with other Mensa members. Such is the anticipation for these gatherings that when the Asian Mensa Gathering in Korea in 2015 was cancelled due to a viral outbreak, Mensans from Asia, Europe and the US still went to Seoul that week to get together. And have fun they still did. (Just to be clear, nobody went home with an exotic new virus).
“I enjoy the member gatherings and the different programs Mensa offers,” says Lemna Parvini Sani of Singapore as she attended an American Mensa Gathering. “It’s an amazing opportunity to meet over 2,400 members and have several interesting debates and discussions on all matters of the world.”
So what do you get from joining Mensa? You get access to a global network of brilliant thinkers from all walks of life who are sworn to assist you as you navigate the world that you live in. Whether it’s for business, socials, travel, learning or simply having fun, being in touch with a Mensa community wherever you may be can be a valuable and possibly even life-changing resource!
Not so clear what exactly the gains of joining are.