Whether you’re entrenched in your career or a student working toward your first job, you should consider joining a professional association.
The benefits of associations are numerous, ranging from receiving alerts about job opportunities and internships to receiving mentoring. In this blog, we’ll look at how membership in an association can benefit you wherever you are in your career trajectory.
We’ll start with students. If you haven’t worked even one day in your chosen career, you may still qualify for student membership in a professional association. You say, “Great, but I’m just a student and don’t have the money to join.” I say, “Don’t let a joining fee stop you, because the benefits of membership may far exceed that initial fee.”
First, student memberships are typically less expensive than memberships for full-blown professionals. Another boost: Once you join the association, you’ll usually have access right away to its virtual internships and jobs board. Easy and frequent access to up-to-date internship and job opportunity information is critical at this point when you’re trying to establish yourself and start your career.
In addition to a jobs board, your association may also offer to pair you with a professional mentor. This invaluable relationship can give you insight into how to succeed in your future career as well as provide you a potential connection for a job or internship through your mentor.
Also, when your association meets, either for an all-group convention or break-out meet-ups in different states or cities, your participation in one of these events can expose you to new mentors and new job prospects and provide you an opportunity to establish ongoing professional relationships. Make a good impression on everyone you meet, and this could lead to internships and future employment.
Besides mentorships, jobs boards, and conventions, the association itself may also provide you internal resume-boosting opportunities that may help you land a job later. For instance, one association I am familiar with offers students opportunities to write for a publication issued during the association’s annual convention; this gives the students writing experience and a publication credit and makes their resumes shine a little brighter.
Now that we’ve noted some of the benefits of association membership for students, let’s look at how it can benefit those already in their career.
If you’re already working and haven’t joined an association, don’t waste any more time. Join today. Your employer might even pay for it. While you’re well past the internship stage, you can reap many of the same benefits students do, and a few more. For example, association membership may help you quickly climb the career ladder.
Case in point: A young man four years into his career attended his association’s annual convention, where he interviewed with a major company during the career fair portion of the event. The company is many, many steps up from his then employer in size, responsibilities offered, and pay. Nearly six months after his initial interview at the convention, and after additional interviews, the man landed the job. With the number of people banging on this employer’s door just for an interview opportunity, it’s fair to say that this young man may not have even gotten through the door had he not met the recruiters at an open career fair at the convention. And it was all thanks to his association.
If you’re already in your career, in addition to helping you move up the career ladder, association membership can help you maintain ties with professionals in your industry across the country and possibly the world. These relationships can help keep you abreast of industry changes, be a source of advice on how to handle tough work situations, and keep you up to date about job opportunities. No matter how long you’ve been working, you must stay informed about what’s happening in your professional world so you can prepare to pivot if necessary and know where to pivot to.
In closing, fees to join a professional association typically pale in comparison to what you’ll reap from your membership. Whether you’re a student or a working professional, the time to join your association is TODAY.