Even during the career research phase, professional associations are an excellent way to meet those in the field. They can also offer powerful opportunities to get involved in industry-specific activities and show your commitment to a career path.
The Power of Associations
There is a professional association for nearly every career and industry. Better yet, many offer students membership rates, and some even have campus chapters. To find your match, see if the career you are interested in has a professional association on The Center for Association Leadership (ASAE) website, or talk to us about associations that might be best to join as a student.
Once you match an association to your interests, make yourself visible. Many associations provide opportunities specifically for student members, which can be incredibly valuable when it comes time to market yourself. They also provide a pathway to forge personal connections. Possible opportunities include:
- Networking events
- Mentoring programs
- Job boards
Make strategic social connections.
Most professional organizations have a social media presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other sites. Consider following them to get a sense of the kind of activities and programs they offer. Other ways to interact include:
- Following their status updates or tweets
- Replying, re-tweeting or direct messaging members of the organization
- Starting or joining a conversation
- Seeing if they offer Tweetchats or Tweetups and join
Treat interactions with professional associations the same way you would potential employers. You never know who might turn into a lead.