Becoming active in one or more professional associations will lead you to critically important avenues for networking and information gathering—two fundamental aspects of your job search. One visit to the Weddle's Association Directory at www.weddles.com illustrates that the range of professions, occupations, and industries that professional associations represent is vast and wide reaching. Professional association activities, publications, and websites keep you abreast of what is happening in your specific areas of interest, who the leaders are, and where new jobs may be found. Many association websites contain information on training opportunities, as well as job banks, résumé boards, and other employmentrelated services.
Professional associations are an efficient and dynamic way to gain knowledge, network, and keep on top of current news affecting your industry or area of interest. Membership in associations also demonstrates to potential employers a serious commitment to your career development. Most professional associations have membership opportunities available for students, often at reduced rates. Many allow job seekers to volunteer at conferences or regional meetings in exchange for waived registration fees. These conferences and other assemblies provide opportunities to present papers, participate in discussions, and raise questions. This is an ideal way to hone your communication skills, share your expertise, and interact with colleagues who share your specific professional interests.
In addition, the association field is the third largest employer in the Washington, D.C., area, after the federal government and the tourism industry. Thus, you may wish to look to associations not only as career and job resources but also as possible places of employment.