Should Students Join Professional Organizations?

Jun 1, 2010 by University Communications

The simple answer is yes.  Joining professional associations can be one of the best decisions that students can make during their university experience and it is almost never too early to do so.  Here are a few reasons for finding an organization that fits your professional goals:

  1. Networking: The opportunities to network with professionals in the field are endless.  Meeting the right people could lead to establishing a field of specialization, being introduced to someone who becomes a mentor to you, and even sourcing a practicum or internship location.
  2. Information: Many organizations have a journal or magazine associated with membership.  Staying informed is important and these magazines can help students track developments in their field, trends, and changes to the laws that affect their profession.
  3. Members Only: Many associations also have members-only websites that offer message boards, job boards, and lists of member contact information.  These contacts can also be a resource for locating practicum or internship sites and full-time employment opportunities.
  4. Leadership: Leadership opportunities, like committee membership within the organization or chapter chairs, are available only to active members.  Earning a leadership role can help any student establish themselves early among their peers and raise their professional profile.
  5. Sponsorships and Scholarships: Many organizations provide sponsorship for a member’s research, work, or workshop and scholarship programs.
  6. Thought Leaders: Conferences, seminars, and webinars are a benefit that most associations offer their members.  While students are reading books written by thought leaders in their fields, live conferences, seminars, and webinars are fantastic opportunities to hear from these thought leaders directly.  What better people to learn from than the authors themselves?
  7. Free advice!

The good news is that there are many organizations to choose from, beginning with national groups all the way down to associations that have regional chapters that cater to a smaller population within the group.  In addition, many organizations have student chapters that come with a reduced membership fee.



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