As you send your student off to college, or as your student is settling into the college routine in their first year or two, it is difficult to imagine that joining a professional organization or two could possibly matter. You and your college student may still be adjusting to college life and that professional career may seem a long way off.
It feels as though joining a professional association or organization related to your student’s chosen career may seem something that should be considered during your student’s senior year or as they are about to begin their professional career. However, there are many benefits of joining professional associations early. Although both you and your student may initially feel that adding the cost of membership to the already expensive college years may not be worth it, consider some of the following reasons why membership may be a good idea. Then, talk to your student about their goals, interests, and opportunities.
Benefits of joining a professional association
- If your student is not yet 100% sure what they want to do, joining a professional association in a possible field will give them the opportunity to explore the realities of a career in that area. Your student will have the chance to read journals and follow trends, to attend conferences, to meet other students with similar interests, and to evaluate whether this field excites their interests. This is an important reason why joining an organization as early as freshman year may be important.
- Most associations have periodic publications with information about the latest interests and developments in the field. Your student will be able to keep up with the newest information, which may prove helpful in their classes.
- Many professional associations sponsor annual conferences or periodic regional events. If your student is able to attend some of these events, they will have the opportunity to hear more about developments in the field as well as to network with some of the leaders in the field.
- Many associations offer seminars or webinars on important topics. Your student will have the opportunity to hear leaders in the field and learn about new developments.
- Your student may be able to take advantage of scholarships offered by the organization.
- Your student will be able to follow new trends and areas of growth in the field, which may lead them to specialize their studies in up and coming areas of importance.
- Your student will be able to learn about the professional attitude of their chosen field. They will see and learn about how professionals in this field behave.
- Many associations offer networking opportunities. Your student will make connections which will be helpful in looking for internships and job opportunities.
- Some associations may offer internship opportunities only to members.
- Many associations sponsor job boards or placement services.
- Membership in an appropriate professional organization is a great resume builder.
Although your college student may not feel that they can afford membership in a professional organization as a student, encourage them to investigate the possibilities. Many associations offer student memberships at greatly reduced rates. (A membership might even be a possible gift idea for a birthday or holiday.) This will definitely be an investment that may pay great dividends in the future.