Success by association: Why joining a professional association can help your career

LinkedIn is a great tool for students and new graduates looking to make connections and start a career in their chosen field, but to be honest, there’s really nothing like the original LinkedIn: professional associations.

Professional associations have been hooking young professionals up with great networking opportunities and jobs long before it was cool to do it online. Membership in an association comes with all sorts of benefits, especially for students wanting to jumpstart their careers.

Here are four ways students can get ahead by joining an association:

Networking

A professional association can offer you countless opportunities to meet and get to know the most successful, well-connected and well-respected people in any industry. Conferences, local chapter events and volunteering on committees are all great occasions to talk to those with years of experience. Use these events to learn from them and to start building your professional network, which will help when applying to jobs later.

Education

Many associations provide their members with the latest industry news and developments. They can also give you the resources to deal with these issues and practical advice on how to make the most of the newest industry innovations. Association seminars, newsletters and access to online articles give student members the tools to grow and improve every day. This is the edge you may need to come out of school with both a diploma and a job.

Mentorship

Harry had Dumbledore, Katniss had Haymitch, and Luke had Obi-Wan. If you want to be the best, you need to learn from the best, and that means having a mentor. Associations may count both industry veterans and hot up-and-comers in their membership. Some of them might be eager to help you—the rookie—out by showing you the ropes and giving you all sorts of nuggets of wisdom that they have collected through the years. Participating in your association’s events and initiatives will expose you to these people and give you contacts you can call on when you need some advice.

Resumé building

There aren’t many things in life that make you feel as good as tacking on another line of experience to your resumé. Associations can help you fill that space under “Achievements” pretty fast. Whether it’s volunteering on a committee, helping organize an event or writing an article for the quarterly trade magazine, associations give you the chance to pursue your passion and hone your skills in a supportive environment. Putting these experiences on your resumé would look attractive to any employer, but they also help you grow and improve.

Joining your industry’s professional association as a student or when you are just starting your career is definitely worth the cost of membership, and will help you get a great start on the career of your dreams.

Marc Cousineau

Marc Cousineau is the founder and president of Incline Marketing, a social media marketing company working with non-profit organizations and professional associations. He is a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He currently lives in Toronto where he dutifully cheers on his hometown Maple Leafs.

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