April 17, 2019

Six Career Reasons To Join Professional Associations – NOW!

By B&SC Career Services Team

Six Career Reasons To Join Professional Associations – NOW!

Wondering how to get even more return on your tuition dollars? There’s one sure-fire action you can take that will boost your career options in all sorts of way – while you’re still a student.

Professional associations – like the ones for nurses, paralegals, web developers, and other disciplines – need a steady stream of new members to engage, volunteer, contribute knowledge, and assume leadership roles. In order to encourage students to consider joining, most professional associations offer steeply discounted membership rates for them, and many also sponsor student chapters at colleges and universities.

Benefits of Joining

Why is joining an association (or several) as a student a great move for your career? Consider the following….

  1. Networking. When you join an association, you usually have the option to become part of the local student chapter (if you’re a student) and the local professional chapter, whose membership is mostly practitioners. The smart move is to join both: the student chapter will help you build a connection with fellow students, while the local chapter will enable you to meet a great number of the local professionals in your field.
  2. Brand- or reputation-building. Take a leadership role with the student chapter to practice and demonstrate this critical skill, and be a terrific volunteer or committee member in your local professional chapter. This will deliver two benefits: 1) it will demonstrate to potential hiring managers that you see yourself as a professional who takes his or her ability to contribute seriously, and 2) it will impress your fellow volunteers and committee members with your reliability, commitment, and professionalism, which will make them much more willing to help you land a job.
  3. Career insights. Most professional associations provide substantial information for their members about such things as potential career paths, salary trends, issues in the profession, hiring statistics, and similar information. In addition, associations frequently have online discussion groups (which you’ll have access to) whose topics and responses will provide real-life insights into careers in your chosen field. Also, by participating in your local chapter, you’ll have an opportunity to experience what it would be like to work with your fellow members. Do people seem to enjoy their careers?
  4. Job postings. Job listings are a common feature among professional associations. Even if you’re not looking for a job right now, checking out the available jobs will give you a good sense of what skills are in demand and who’s hiring for what positions. It’s one of the fastest ways to identify whether there may be some unanticipated skills you want to master before you graduate. Also, you can ask friends you’ve met through your local chapter what they know about potential employers.
  5. Scholarships. Almost everyone could use help with tuition payments, and many professional associations offer scholarships to student members. The amounts usually aren’t huge, but we all know that every little bit counts.
  6. Conferences. Attending professional conferences as a student can help you see your future career “in action” – what are the people like, what topics are being discussed, what areas most intrigue you, where can you see yourself contributing? Many professional associations (as well as their local chapters) offer conference scholarships to students in return for some volunteer work, so you should always check out this option first to keep costs down. If you can’t attend, then at least research the online program to think through these questions. And if you are able to go, take business cards and connect with as many people as possible!

To Maximize Those Benefits

To make the most of your student membership, you’ll want to do two things. First, make sure you list you association membership in your LinkedIn profile – it will further affirm the seriousness of your professional commitment. In addition, you’ll want to join the LinkedIn group your association sponsors and become an active participant. Second, renew your association membership at the student rate the day before you graduate!

About the Author:

Acclaimed Career Coach, Kim Dority is a frequent presenter for Bryant & Stratton College Online. Dority is an information specialist, consultant, career coach, published author and adjunct professor at the University of Denver in Colorado. She has written extensively on career development for students and new graduates and is a frequent presenter, lecturer and panelist on career-related topics. Kim’s areas of expertise include professional branding, career transitions and career sustainability.

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