The Benefits of Joining a Professional Organization
Guest content provided by healthcare industry writer, Sandra Mills.
Whether one works at the most menial of unskilled occupations or one requiring the highest levels of education, skill and experience, there’s almost certainly a professional organization to which they are entitled to membership. The origins of such groups are shrouded in history but many would note the elite organizations of scribes, teachers, healers and religious authorities that existed in almost all ancient cultures, or to the guilds of stone masons and other artisans chartered during the Middle Ages that form the basis for the modern Masonic societies. These early professional organizations were formed to guard the secrets of their craft from the uninitiated, thus protecting the authority of the leadership and providing job security, as a communal resource for members facing hardship, and also to ensure the quality of the work they produced.
The goals of the modern professional organization are essentially the same, minus for the most part the jealous guardianship of trade secrets, although that’s certainly not unheard of. First and foremost among the obligations of a group is regulation and oversight of professional standards in the public interest. This entails the consideration and documentation of accepted procedures and censure of members who fail to follow them. The secondary purpose of a professional organization is to provide a venue for members to fellowship with one another and to provide resources to enhance their practice and advance their careers. What are some of the benefits one can expect from joining a professional organization?
- A role in ensuring the highest standards in their profession. Through participation in oversight committees, consulting groups, mentoring services and association governance a member can have a positive influence on the direction and continued development of their profession. In addition, an association often works much the same as a union, negotiating with and lobbying governmental bodies for legislation favorable to its membership.
- Networking opportunities. This is probably the number one reason people join professional organizations. Membership can provide contacts at the national, state and local level which of course can be invaluable when looking for a new position or to expand a practice. Often organizations will offer exclusive job postings and advice on resume development, job search tactics and negotiation techniques. Usually members will have access to mentoring services also.
- Professional development. As mentioned above professional associations offer members resources to enhance their knowledge and skills and stay abreast of new developments. These include opportunities to attend conferences and workshops and access to newsletters and publications detailing the latest industry trends, as well as other educational materials.
- Group discounts. An association usually offers group discounts to members on a wide variety of products and services, everything from insurance to vacation cruises and condo rentals. This benefit alone can often be worth more than the membership dues.
- Scholarships and internships. Many professional organizations offer membership to high school and college students who are planning to pursue a career in a particular field, often at a generous discount, and membership can be an invaluable head start and provide opportunities to many who otherwise wouldn’t have them.
- Resume enhancement. Being a member of a prestigious professional association, or several of them, is an impressive addition to a resume. It tells a prospective employer that a job candidate takes their professional development seriously enough to make an investment of time and money in it.
Professionals should take the time to research the various associations available to them and choose the ones that best fit their individual needs. The benefits to be realized are worth the effort.
Sandra Mills is a freelance health and healthcare industry writer. She enjoys helping people live happier and healthier lives.