Even though I work for The Career Development Center, I still learn a lot when I take the time to utilize the resources myself and I would like to share with you a piece of advice I got during a career consultation that I found really valuable. That advice was to join a professional organization related to my field. This advice was really valuable to me mainly because it had never really occurred to me, I didn’t think that it would be useful to join a professional organization until I was actually a professional in my field, not just a student. While it is true that some of the resources provided by professional organizations is only useful to people that are already in their career, in my experience there are still plenty of resources that are useful for students.
Now a lot of this is going to be speaking from my experience joining the American Chemical Society, I don’t know for sure that everything I say is going to be applicable to every professional organization. That being said, if you know of any professional organizations related to your field I encourage you to check them out and see if they’ll be worth joining, and here are some reasons why.
First of all, I got to enjoy the luxury of student pricing. The membership dues were significantly less expensive for a student, and if you ever decide to go to any conferences or anything then those are a lot cheaper too. I also have access to a lot of really valuable field-specific career resources. Career advice and help from a huge group of people that are all in the same career path as me. There’s even a job board that is only available to members that I can use to search for jobs after graduation.
Another thing you get when you join a professional organization is access to a big network of people and it becomes easier to reach out to them and bring them into your personal professional network. Over the summer I attended an ACS conference which was a great opportunity to meet people, see what people in the field are working on, and hear from awesome speakers. Networking is very important in the career development and job search process so this becomes an invaluable resource.
Last but not least, membership in a professional organization is definitely something that you can put on your resume. While it’s not advisable to do something only to put it on your resume and not get anything else out of it, it’s still a plus. So I encourage everyone to look into whether your field has an influential professional organization and see about signing up.
posted by Deirdre Newton, Career Assistant