Do I Need to Be Involved with a Professional Organization?

By Jacqueline McPhillips, Director, Community College Transfer Opportunity Program

Nearly every profession or interest area has a national, state or regional organization to join.  These organizations typically encourage professional development and networking.  Making connections with other colleagues in your profession is important at all stages of your career. Whether you are just starting out or getting ready to retire, there is always someone to lend a hand and something to learn.

Getting involved with professional organizations is not merely a space filler for your résumé.   Creating professional relationships is important; these types of groups allow you to become acquainted with others in your field that may do similar work to yours at a different institution.  This is a great way to learn ‘best practices’ and discuss new ideas.  If you are new to your field, this could be a great place to meet a potential mentor.  Perhaps one of the most motivating types of networking achieved through a professional organization is the ability to take advantage of career resources.  Often there will be a system of identifying new opportunities for members, as well as connecting with others who might know of open positions that you may not otherwise have heard.

So you may be wondering how to start the process of getting professionally involved? Research! First identify the organizations that professionals in your field typically join. Depending on where you plan to take your career there are plenty of organizations that might be of interest to you. For example, in my field, higher education, there are organizations which apply specifically to those who work with community colleges and others which are geared toward those in any aspect of academic advisement. The important thing is to find the groups that are most pertain to you and your goals. Many organizations provide student membership options. It’s never too early to get involved!