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The benefits of joining a professional organization

Monday, June 24, 2013

Whether your college major is business, social work or another subject, it is likely there is a professional organization that represents the field you plan to enter after graduation. In addition to participating in on-campus clubs related to your major, you might consider joining one of these organizations to better position yourself for success after college.

Here are a few reasons why becoming a member of a professional organization can enhance your college experience:

Professional experience
While college may prepare you for a specific line of work, membership in a professional organization provides  experience on a higher level. College Parents of America, an organization comprised of current and future college parents, states that joining an association of professionals exposes you to the realities of a career in a specific field.

When you are a member of a professional organization, you often have access to special publications, which focus entirely on the latest news and trends in a field, as well as conferences and other events that are not open to the general public. Perhaps you were certain psychology was the right major for you, until you spent time as a member of a psychology-focused association. Ultimately, your membership can help you discover whether you are on the right academic path.

It is not uncommon for professional organizations to offer scholarships to their younger members, according to MonsterCollege. In fact, the student career Web site states that the chance to receive help paying for college is a primary reason why some students join these associations.

However, keep in mind that these organizations often have annual membership fees. If you are concerned that becoming a member of a professional organization will only add to your college costs, MonsterCollege states that students often pay lower membership fees.

Networking opportunities
While you can certainly make valuable connections in your college classes, the men and women you meet through a professional organization may be your future bosses, hiring managers and colleagues, according to Mashable, a technology news Web site. In today's competitive job market, expanding your professional network before you graduate can give you a leg up.

The news source suggests meeting at least three to five contacts at every association-related event you attend. Then, you can connect with these individuals using social media Web sites, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and further develop your relationships with them. - helping you find colleges and universities that offer the accredited programs that most interest you.

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