Whether you’re a student or someone who’s been in your profession a long time, you can realize big gains from joining a professional or trade association. You’ll find there’s an association for almost every profession and trade out there, many with national chapters as well as regional and local chapters. These associations are non-profit organizations that bring together people who have common interest in a trade or profession.
Below are some of the ways these associations serve members:
- Identify trends and issues: Associations often lead the way in identifying and communicating field advancements, trends, and issues. People who influence a field—business, trade, and academic leaders—often maintain relationships with established associations.
- Exchange ideas and solve problems: Associations provide a conduit for sharing best practices, ideas, and solutions to problems in the profession. Communication is facilitated through membership publications, websites, events, and more.
- Provide information and resources: Association websites are often a hub for sharing information and resources about a particular field. Newsletters, journals, blogs, and message boards are just a sampling. Members may be able to sign up for automatic notification about events like webinars, training workshops, conferences, and more.
- Jobs support: Many associations track and post related job openings; access to these is often limited to members. In addition, associations can be a great resource for identifying mentoring and internship opportunities.
- Networking opportunities: Association networking events are a great way for members to meet people in the field and even to uncover job opportunities—some of which are “hidden” jobs (those not advertised). Networking relationships may even turn into mentoring relationships.
To find a professional or trade association, start with Career Transitions “Explore Careers” section. Once you select a specific career portal, look under “Professional Associations” in the right sidebar for any related and available association information. Also, ask those who are in your field for association recommendations.
Once you find an association that interests you, be sure you understand the membership costs and benefits. If you’re a student, ask about discounted student membership rates.