One of the reasons the association industry remains a “secret” sector is because people only think of joining them – not working for them. Do association employees do the same thing in reverse? Do they forget the impact that membership can make on their own careers? Often, it’s a case of “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.”
In general, there are two types of organizations association employees can join: industry associations such as ASAE or associations focused on a specific functional area – for example, the American Marketing Association for someone who works in marketing.
There are three main ways joining associations can make an impact on your career.
1) Education: You’ll likely get a break on teleseminars, certification courses, etc., in addition to tons of free information through newsletters, blogs, e-lists, and members-only meetings. Even if you only have time to utilize one of these methods, you’ll stay on top of industry trends.
2) Credibility: Being a member of an industry association looks great on your resume and indicates that you’re dedicated to career growth. The great thing is it’s instantaneous – the minute you pay your dues you can tell people, “I’m a member of XYZ Association.”
3) Networking: Associations provide ample opportunities for meeting others in your industry. Even if you’re not actively searching for a job at this time, you’ll be prepared in the event the decision is made for you (or on the other hand, considered for opportunities you didn’t even know existed!).
Not sure which association is a fit for you? Ask industry colleagues, Google relevant associations in your area (i.e. finance associations + Boston), or visit Weddles.com for a comprehensive list of organizations grouped by industry.