by Kevin Martin
One question that students often ask is whether or not it is useful to join professional organizations. Without hesitation, the answer is always a resounding YES! As a program administrator and student advisor, I often wonder why students might not see the value in joining professional organizations. To help in understanding the value of such a membership, some key benefits are described below:
- Professional Networking
Professional organizations are great for meeting new people and expanding personal and professional boundaries.
- Access to Conferences and Workshops
Many professional organizations offer chances for members to participate in local, national, or international conferences and workshops that give opportunities to interact with researchers, field-leaders, and colleagues from other institutions.
- Learning Beyond the Classroom
Many professional organizations offer workshops and presentations at no additional cost beyond the membership fee. On-going professional development is included in the cost of membership.
Many professional organizations offer discounts on their resources to members, including lower registration fees to attend conferences and discounted texts or journals. In addition, many organizations partner with other entities to offer resources including discounts and even things like insurance. Many organizations also offer discounts for students or professionals who are just starting out, so be sure to ask about student memberships.
- Opportunities for Leadership
Many professional organizations are actually organized and led by their members, and leadership positions are often available to members at any stage in their careers. This is a great opportunity to learn about the internal functions of a professional organization and to help make an imprint on the organization.
- Career Enhancement
Many professional organizations offer connections to available jobs through a career portal or listservs. This is a great way to find a new job or to find new candidates for available positions.
Considering all of the value-building resources available through professional organizations, the cost of membership is well worth it! As an avid promoter and member of several professional organizations, I strongly encourage students (and non-students) to consider joining a professional organization related to their field.
Kevin Martin is the Associate Dean of the School of Education at Virginia International University. Mr. Martin also organizes the annual Conference on Language, Learning, & Culture.