How professional organizations can help you as a student

Membership in a professional organization as part of your career path

It is common for both university students and working professionals to join the professional organization in their field as part of their career path. Professional organizations provide numerous advantages to their members and are particularly beneficial to university students and young professionals. As a university student you can apply for the scholarships that many organizations provide, learn from mentors about the career path you wish to enter, get information about internships and full-time jobs, and establish personal ties to the wider professional world of your chosen profession. Students can join the local chapter of the professional organization in their field, usually through their university, and the national organization itself, usually by applying online.

Scholarships and jobs

The earlier in your undergraduate studies you join your professional organization the sooner you can apply for scholarships and take advantage of the other benefits available to members. Organizations can also help you to identify specific employers who will hire you upon graduation. Some employers, in both the private and government sectors, will pay off the costs of student loans for students who agree to work for them for an initial period, with options to stay on after the specified period.

Meet, learn along with, and work with others in your field

Another important benefit of joining a professional organization while in college is that you will meet fellow students with whom you can form study groups. Seniors students have taken the courses you will take and can give you useful pointers, in preparing for exams, for example. In meeting fellow students in the same field you are also meeting future colleagues – or future competitors! University chapters of professional organizations also enable you to meet successful alumni who are established in the field you are preparing to enter. They can be helpful contacts when you apply for an internship or first job.

Attend conferences to find job and career opportunities and hone your skills

Make sure to attend your organization’s regional or annual conference. If you are close to graduation company recruiters can let you know of job openings. Bring copies of your resume; some recruiters are prepared to give you an initial job interview right at the conference. Even if your graduation isn’t imminent you’ll benefit from meeting potential future employers. Conference presentations and lectures will also provide you with the latest information and upcoming developments in your field. As a member you can also have exclusive access to your organization’s official publications, workshops, and focused short courses which will enhance your professional skills and keep them up to date.

Represent your profession and make your mark in the wider world

Lastly, many organizations offer school programs and resources for educators, parents, students, and the general public. They also establish standards of professional ethical behavior as well as technical standards for practioners in the field. As an active participant in these activities your impact will benefit both your profession itself as well as the wider world.