Professional organizations aim to support the professional development and interests of their members. They engage members by providing cutting-edge information, offering programs for professional growth and access to a strong network. These organizations are typically geared toward a specific industry and/or diverse groups of people within that industry.
There can be immense professional and personal benefits to joining a professional organization that not only considers industry, but also diversity. Here’s a quick breakdown of 4 of these benefits:
- Networking. Professional organizations are a great access point for building relationships with other professionals. Joining an organization with members of a similar background to your own can provide unique and powerful opportunities for connection regarding shared experiences in the workplace – the challenges, as well as the successes. Each organization may structure its networking opportunities differently. Some offer formal mentorship/coaching programs, while others provide more informal activities for connection. However the format, a professional support system can be a wonderfully collaborative outlet for tips, inspiration, and stories.
- Access to Resources. A dedication to professional advancement requires providing members with access to resources. Professional organizations typically sponsor and/or promote the latest research and information. Diverse professional organizations bring awareness to current issues specific to a population and ideas for how to tackle them. Research papers, blogs and newsletters are a few ways in which these organizations keep their members in the loop on all the latest.
- Education. Continuous learning opportunities are key for professional growth. Within organizations, these typically take the form of a conference, seminar, workshop, webinar, or other class. Some professional organizations also offer certifications that may be recognized within the industry and are a good addition to your resume.
- Job Opportunities. Many professional organizations will have a place on their website where members can share job and internship opportunities. The nice thing about this is that members of the organization feel confident enough in the positive experience you’ll likely have with their employer, to encourage other members to apply. These companies may have Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which are employee-led groups supporting an inclusive workplace.
Now that you know the benefits of joining, how do you choose the right professional organization for you? There are many options, so here are a few steps to help you through the process:
- Explore. Conduct a search of professional organizations. I recommend starting with the UConn Center for Career Development resources. This page lists over 15 professional organizations specifically for Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander students, which vary by industry or interest.
- Research. What can the organization offer to you as a member? Check out the organization’s mission, resources, and events. Is there a cost to join? It is very common for professional organizations to charge an annual membership fee. Check to see if they offer student discounts. If you’re already employed, check with your employer to see if they cover professional development and organization costs.
- Evaluate. Can this organization support your professional goals? Do they have information relevant to your career choice? Once you’re ready, go ahead and join.
Whichever organization(s) you choose, I recommend being an active member. Don’t miss out on the numerous opportunities for growth and connection that they can offer!
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