Professional associations — Joyce’s Career Tip of the Week

During the last week in June, I attended the annual conference of my professional organization, the National Career Development Association. I always look forward to this event and to spending time with “my people” — those who share my educational background, certifications and interests. I appreciate the opportunity to hear from thought leaders in our field, learn about current trends, new resources and best practices throughout the country and around the world. I was delighted to reconnect with my grad school mentor and others in my network. It was also energizing to make new professional acquaintances.

What does my conference have to do with you, your career and your search for an internship or a job? I want you to know that belonging to a professional association has many benefits, and you don’t have to wait until you graduate to join. As a member, you have access to the latest news in your field and can learn what the experts in your field are doing, discover who they are and which companies employ them.

Most professional organizations have student chapters. Student memberships are frequently connected to the national professional chapter — and are much less expensive to join. The Fulton Schools have several student organizations.

I am always fascinated by the variety of specializations that exist within the larger organization. Take a look at the list of “Societies” in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) or the “Technical Committees” in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. (AIAA). Isn’t it amazing! There is something very special about finding others who share the interest and excitement you have for your work.

Spend some time with Google. Put it some key words — your major, an area of interest — and “professional organization.” Find “your people” and get connected!


Joyce Donahue is a Career Counselor in the Fulton Schools Career Center. She is a nationally certified career counselor and holds “Master Career Counselor” membership status in the National Career Development Association.