by Sally Kearsley
Want to do something great for your future job hunt and your career? Consider joining a professional association--or the student chapter of a professional association! There is a professional association for almost any career field you can mention and you can join at any time, freshman to senior year (or beyond).
You can check with the staff at your career center for on-campus and local chapters of professional associations or use the directory called National Trade & Professional Associations (published by Columbia Books).
You may do a web search as well, searching by the career field plus "professional association."
There are some excellent reasons for joining one in your chosen field
Professional associations publish journals and/or newsletters (which often are a benefit of membership) are helpful to:
- Keeps you up-to-date on issues and developments in your field. If you are interviewing, this can be invaluable information!
- Shows you who the "movers and shakers" are in your field.
- Tells you out about companies--or individuals--with whom you would like to work.
- Offers information about upcoming conferences and professional development opportunities.
- With your membership, you will often have access to member information. Contacting someone in your field about possible employment as a fellow member of the association may open a door.
- Professional associations often have some mechanism for sharing job listings. This could be a "classified" section in the journal or newsletter, a section on a web site, or a separate publication available to members only.
- As a member, you will be eligible to attend the group's conferences. Whether at the state, regional, or national level, professional conferences offer excellent opportunities to:
- Build your network of professionals in the field.
- Learn the latest developments in your field.
- Take professional courses and seminars.
- Professional membership is an excellent addition to your resume! There are few better ways to show your serious commitment to the field.Local chapters of associations often sponsor programs, maintain alumni networks, and provide other valuable advantages.
- Many professional associations have substantially reduced membership fees for students who are still in college. Fees can get a little pricey if you wait until after you graduate.