Why join proffesional societies or associations as a student?
April 10, 2014 11:15 AM   Subscribe

I have been a member of a few professional societies as a student member. Should I continue with them? How can I better take advantage of them if I do? I am a student member of The American Psychological Association Division 52: International Psychology and The APA div 14: The Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology. They cost around $25 each annually but I don't feel I am taking advantage of them. I don't attend conferences due to the expense so I miss some of the networking benefits. There are usually forums for communication but the activity levels are fairly low. I have gotten access to some books and tons of articles and that's cool. Other than this, is it really worthwhile for me to be a member? If so, how can I better participate as an essentially online only member?
posted by Che boludo! to Work & Money (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I think it depends what your career goals are. Are you a psychology major because it interests you, but you know you'll probably never specifically "use" the degree (i.e. you'll end up with a job in another field after graduation)? Or do you intend to pursue graduate studies and maybe end up as a therapist of some kind?

If the former, I would not worry about this stuff. I was an anthropology major, and aside from being a member of my university's Anthropology Club (mostly for social reasons and because I'm a dork), I did not join any Professional Societies or attend conferences or do networking or anything like that. I ultimately did not pursue a career in anthropology, and it has never mattered at all. Classmates of mine who intended to go on to grad school in the field did join those societies, however.

If the latter, you should talk to your professors and other professional mentors and see what they suggest that you do. What are other ambitious psych students doing? How are they leveraging those memberships?
posted by Sara C. at 11:24 AM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm working on graduate studies in Cross-Cultural Organizational Psychology with the goal of consulting with multinational corporations and working on training programs for expatriates and multicultural teams.
posted by Che boludo! at 11:31 AM on April 10, 2014

Have you joined their student division? Lots of resources there in form of mentoring opportunities, grants and awards to apply for.

I use APA for job listings, attend smaller division meetings to network with others in my research sub-field, find out what's new/hot in the field, and I apply to their fellowships/grants/awards.

I know you say you're online only, but you could take the opportunity to look through your divisions and see if there is anyone working in a position that interests you and ask to meet them at the next APA annual meeting if they are attending (this summer).
posted by inevitability at 11:35 AM on April 10, 2014

If these organizations have a presence on Linkedin, which I suspect one or both do, and have discussions as part of the group on the site, which I assume they do, then join Linkedin and join these groups there and participate in discussions there. You want to build a profile for future hiring opportunities, and having a Linkedin presence and joining groups related to your future profession, and participating in them, can be one step in that direction.
posted by gudrun at 11:42 AM on April 10, 2014

My college's student government (both undergrad and graduate student governments) will reimburse student travel to conferences; perhaps yours does, too?
posted by MansRiot at 11:57 AM on April 10, 2014

If your organisations are set up with committees, divisions or chapters, then volunteering with one of them increases your networking, gives the opportunity to develop additional skills and can often count toward CPD if that is a requirement. They also probably have a lot of grants etc for student members.

I chair a committee (and as a result also sit on the board) of the local chapter of one of my professional organisations and I have been a committee member for other professional orgs and it has been very useful for allowing me to gain skills and meet a lot of my fellow professionals. Plus, it shows a developed interest in my profession, which looks good on a cv and will help if I decide to take the next steps toward charter and fellowship.

You can frequently do this virtually. The org I currently volunteer for is actually USA based and I am in the UK and a different city to the majority of the board and my committee - I attend and chair meetings virtually, which is very common.
posted by halcyonday at 1:16 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

In addition to networking and books, sometimes a reason is to get a better idea of what Real Graduates in your field actually do, whether that's through job listings, articles, or specific materials targeted at students. How useful that stuff is will vary a lot with field and organization, but it's worth peering at as you get farther along...
posted by acm at 1:45 PM on April 10, 2014

Here's how I've benefited from those types of societies in my field:
Discounted conference registration
Travel grants
Lists of job postings and funding opportunities
Discounted publication charges

I don't use them networking per se. Do your societies offer student travel grants for any of their conferences? Getting one of those would make the membership worth it. That's the main reason I've joined societies- to be eligible for discounts, awards, and funding opportunities.
posted by emd3737 at 1:58 PM on April 10, 2014

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