What are professional associations all about?
You’ve heard the advice: “Join a professional association as a student, your involvement can really set you apart as a potential candidate in the future,” and you may be wondering, “Why join now when I can always do that later?”
However, later always comes sooner than you think. Before you know it, senior year projects, tests and searching for a full-time job will be taking up most of your time. And — job secured or not — graduation will be in full view as will all the details of moving on from this place you’ve called home for 4, 5, 6 years. Don’t let the busyness that comes in junior and senior year, when you are also focusing more on building and refining key technical skills, distract you from the goals set earlier in your academic life. Embry-Riddle has over 350 student professional groups represented on campus and each group has myriad activities to help you both academically and professionally. Think of involvement as adding to your skills bank! Here are just a few things you will gain:
- Becoming a member in freshmen or sophomore year can give you plenty of time to learn the ropes from those who are holding current leadership positions. Not only will you learn from these students, being involved gives assurance to the older students that their hard work will continue on, and, once you are in charge, you have the opportunity to train and mentor new students. Skills bank: Work ethic, teaching, leading a team!
- Interacting with older students lets you begin to build a network that can help you later on when you need a co-op, internship, or a full-time entry level position. Plus, these older students can often give you the latest tips from the companies you are most interested in working for. Skills bank: Networking, career management!
- Early involvement makes it more likely that you will be able to add critical leadership skills to your resume. It is great to be a “member” but it is even better to work towards an executive board role. Not only does this look good on your resume, but this level of involvement builds real skills that can stand the test of tough interview questions. Skills bank: Team building, collaboration, critical thinking, career management!
- Professional associations often host annual conferences, allowing you to interact with the hiring managers and decision-makers of the companies seeking new hires. This is a great opportunity to not only network and get great tips from industry leaders, but these conferences also host career fairs to fill multiple co-op and internship positions. Skills bank: Professionalism, career management, global fluency, oral communication skills!
Joining early has many more advantages than these listed. You cannot outdo professional connections made in college and sustained through the hard work and effort you put into a professional association in collaboration with your peers. These are relationships and learnings that will last a lifetime!
Here’s a short list of some of the annual conferences Embry-Riddle students attend as a part of their membership in student professional organizations:
- AIAA Space
- Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
- National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
- Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
- Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)
- American Meteorology Society
- Women in Aviation International (WAI)
- National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
- Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
Erin Minta has had worked with students in higher education in a variety of roles and serves Embry-Riddle as a Program Manager in Career Services. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications, Arts and Sciences from Western Michigan University and a Master of Arts degree in Community Counseling from Eastern Michigan University. She has been actively involved with the Conference for Industry and Education Collaboration/Cooperative and Experiential Education Division (CIEC/CEED) as a presenter, and as an article and abstract reviewer for the American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE). She enjoys working with students to help them identify and fulfill their academic and professional goals.