Have you ever been reading something and you suddenly see a veritable alphabet soup of acronyms in front of you? Sometimes these will just be simple abbreviations, like SCUBA. If you're reading something related to careers (and since you're on our blog, I tend to think you might have that inclination!), there's a good chance that the acronym is in reference to a professional organization.
Of course, the question then becomes, why would I join one of these professional organizations? If you recall an earlier post I made, I talked about how getting involved with groups in your realm of interest can benefit your job search process. I'd like to believe that you have a considerable interest in your field of choice. Involving yourself in professional organizations in your field will help you to build connections and network with people of similar interests. Get involved on a committee or sub-committee within your organization. The more you involve yourself, the more ingrained in the industry you will become. Additionally, your own personal knowledge level will increase considerably by working with professionals from other companies.
The best part about professional organizations in terms of a job search is that you can truly get involved at any point in your career. Many colleges have campus branches of professional organizations. For example, there is a chapter of the American Marketing Association here at Marquette. Getting involved with these groups now might be able to give you a leg up when it comes time to find that first professional position. But even if you don't join while you are in college, you can still jump into that world later in life. And as any student has met with me can attest to, I'm a huge proponent of giving anything a try at least once, because you never know if that experience will be the one that ultimately pays off for you.
If you need assistance finding a professional organization that fits your interests, Wikipedia provides a good starting point. It's not exhaustive though, so if you don't see the one for you, let us know and we can help, or simply google "professional organizations (your field)". I'd bet you find something...