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The Value of Associations for Students

January 19 2017

In today’s competitive and incredibly saturated job market, it is more important than ever to differentiate yourself from other job seekers. Some of the traditional ways that students stand out from the crowd is by highlighting their work and volunteer experiences and ensuring that their resumes and cover letters are well-written, visually appealing and tailored to the company that they are applying for; however, one traditional way that has fallen off the map is participation in an industry association.

Industry associations – what are they?

An association is a group of people organized for a joint purpose. Simply put, people belong to an association so that they can meet other people with a common interest, make contacts, share information, and learn from each other. Associations help their members achieve this by holding conferences, producing publications of the profession, and creating networking opportunities. An association can be specific to the area of study you are pursuing (Ontario Bar Association, Canadian Dental Association, American Marketing Association, to name a few) or, they can be specific to a hobby or personal interest (for e.g., Craft & Hobby Association, Canadian Woodworking Clubs, Songwriters Association of Canada).

Industry associations – how are they valuable to students?

• Networking and relationship building – the earlier you can start doing this in your career, the better
• Discounts only available to students – usually industry-related
• Industry exposure / opportunities to market yourself – through writing opportunities, speaking engagements and other activities organized by the association.
• Volunteer and work opportunities – think of how it can help you find your next job
• Professional development opportunities – sometimes required in your field of study as continuing education.

How to get involved right away

• Student membership – once you find out which associations are in your field, investigate whether they offer a special rate for students
• Complimentary event attendance for young professionals – attend these!
• Networking and being invited by members that are eager to introduce the next generation of professionals
• Job fairs/trade shows – these are sometimes complimentary for industry professionals

It is important to note that being an active participant in an association, either through attending events or volunteering on a committee, for example, will result in a more positive and rewarding experience for students. Once you get involved, this is something you can easily add to your resume to demonstrate to prospective employers that you are dedicated and willing to go the extra mile to establish your career and your professional self.

This blog post was written by Carly. Carly is the CEO and driving force behind Redstone Agency, a full-service event and association management company. She is a devoted entrepreneur, focusing on her passion for connecting with others which has resulted in the effective development of valued strategic partnerships.


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