For those of you out there that have even glanced toward some research on your chosen field, you've probably come across something very familiar, yet equally foreign; the dreaded alphabet soup of Professional Organizations. How are you supposed to know what all these 3-5 random letter combinations mean, or which ones are legitimately good? It's a challenge that almost everyone faces as they begin the depth of their job or internship search. For the ones that truly take advantage of such entities though, the search can be vastly transformed.
Professional organizations (or societies as they are sometimes known) can come in many different shapes and sizes. For every national organization, there are usually regional, state, and sometimes even local versions of it. Marquette itself even has student chapters of many large professional organizations, such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Society of Professional Journalists, and Financial Management Association. With such a plethora of options out there, there really isn't much reason to at least check out a couple in your chosen field.
So once you determine which professional organizations to look at, or even join, then what? What's the purpose? Well, as students, I believe that these organizations are goldmines for pertinent information. As I certainly hope you've heard (whether from us or anyone else), networking is the way of the world when it comes to job searching. You know the line, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." It's a maddening line for many students, because how are you supposed to know all these professionals who can help you get a job? Let's think about this though step by step
1. You are in a professional organization
2. You have a member list
3. Other members are likely established professionals in your field
4. You can contact these professionals, and thus, NETWORK!
Sounds pretty good, huh? Let's also not forget other added benefits of membership, such as professional development opportunities, interesting lectures, and, oh yes, a field specific job board! I can assure you that any professional organization with a job board isn't going to get overrun with pyramid schemes!
So what are you waiting for? Go out there and look for the best professional organization for you, and enrich your job search as a result!