How does a membership to a field-specific society/association help your career?

by Roselle Pendergast, Head Editor, INALJ Minnesota

How does a membership to a field-specific society/association help your career?

Roselle.PendergastThere are TONS of different library societies/associations out there (large and small) and I have no doubt at all that there’s also societies founded within your own state; look at Minnesota for an example, Minnesota Library Association or Twin Cities Archives Round Table.

The main question here, how does being a member of those societies/associations help your career?

Lets use Society of American Archivists as an example. ‘

  • As a member of SAA, you have access to the Career Learning Center, which has different presentations that talk about resumes, networking, and building your career.
  • They also offer specialist certificates, such as SAA’s Digital Archives Specialist Curriculum and Certificate Program, which help expand your expertise.
  • There’s also the perk of attending the conferences to network with like-minded people and make connections that will be super beneficial in the near future.

Yes, these conferences/conventions can be quite costly, which brings up my next point.

  • Being a member at a local society or association has its benefits, such as being close to home for one.
  • Another benefit would be socializing with local peers, where you can develop stronger networking ties.

Benefits: for an example, at Twin Cities Archives Round Table, they have annual meetings twice a year, usually at a place of prominence. In Fall 2013, for their annual meeting, they met at Red Wing Shoes’ corporate archives in Red Wing, MN to learn about textile conservation. As a member of TCART, members receive emails through TCART from other organizations with job offers or volunteering opportunities that are usually not found elsewhere (i.e., job boards). Check with your local society or association and become a member today!

There’s also the one we all know and love, American Library Association.

  • ALA has tons of tools available to both members and non-members such as where to find an ALA-accredited college/university program, the upcoming conferences and events, professional tools, and so on.
  • ALA also offers ways to make connections online via ALA Connect.
  • Because ALA is so vast, ALA Connect allows you to meet up with like-minded groups online and discuss all our favorite topics! It’s also an excellent way to make important connections. It’s definitely NOT one to overlook.

While on the subject of memberships, another kind of association that is quite often overlooked, to me anyway, is your college/university’s alumni service. For an example, the University of Wisconsin: Milwaukee (my alma mater) has excellent alumni services. Within an UWM Alumni’s first year after graduation, the brand new alumnus is eligible for six free appointments with the career development center. There are also other career support resources to take advantage of, such as assistance in making a career transition, and providing you with connections through the university.

You can also volunteer at your alma mater and with your associations and societies. Your volunteering opportunities help put you in the perfect spots to network with fellow alumni and/or members of your associations and societies. The associations and societies you are a part of REALLY do help your career, not just by being a member but by being an active participant, whether it be in person through meetings/conventions or online as a volunteer. So, my advice, take advantage of it and go forth!