In today’s day and age, people are more connected than ever. Social media, the web, cellphones, wearable technology, AI – connections are just a click away. In the same way, professional associations bring like-minded individuals together. No matter the industry you are building your career in, it is likely that there are a variety of professional associations representing your industry at various levels – be it at local, regional, national or global level.
Internship and career opportunities
Associations often have membership-only benefits where existing members or partner organisations can post job vacancies or internships. Often times these positions are advertised within the association network first, so members have an advantage in applying before it goes out to general public. Most associations also have a space where you can create your own profile, including uploading a CV.
Some associations also offer their own internships where they assist student members in finding suitable opportunities to start their career with.
Associations host many events where networking is made possible. These events take the form of training and workshops, public speaker events, fundraising, general meetings, conferences and even cocktail evenings where the main purpose is networking amongst members.
Attending these assocation events will help you get to know fellow members better, interact with industry leaders and build relationships with potential employers or business associates.
Associations typically host annual conferences. Some have these in one location, while others have one in each main region the association is active in. Larger associations even have student conferences. Members typically receive a discounted rate if they attend the conference. Conferences feature keynote speakers and industry leaders and discussions revolve around industry trends, new technology, case studies and legislative considerations.
Discounted events and workshops
Association members typically receive discounted rates when they book and attend events, workshops or conferences arranged by the associations. Sometimes partner organisations also extend discounted rates to members of the association in joining their events.
Belonging to an association helps establish legitimacy when you’re first starting out in your career. Being a member of an association carries a degree of respectability when applying for jobs or presenting credentials to potential clients.
Professional Body Recognition and Professional Designation Registration
Some associations are registered as professional bodies through the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and can offer their members access to professional designations. “A Professional Designation is a title or status conferred by a professional body in recognition of a person’s expertise and/or right to practice in an occupational field.” – Source, SAQA
Associations offer training courses and workshops that can help you develop your career skills and stay on top of industry trends and best practice.
Keeping up to date with industry standards
Associations usually distribute newsletters that keep members informed about trends and best practice in the industry. Information are also shared about continuing professional development and new certifications or designations.
Codes of ethics
Joining a professional association will help members, especially those starting their career, in understanding industry codes of ethics in order to know what is considered best practice and what is accepted.
Updates on policies
Associations update members on changes to legislation that impact their profession and offer advice and training on how to prepare for such changes.
Some associations have a high focus on advocacy within a specific industry or sector. They will lobby and advocate on behalf of their members and larger stakeholders.
These benefits listed above are the main reasons people should consider joining a professional association but there are many more reasons, especially if you start looking at the different options available within your industry or sector.
We suggest investigating the different associations in your industry and looking at their benefits and where in the industry their focus is. If you are still uncertain about the direction you need to take or which association would best suit you professional aspirations, feel free to get in touch with us for some advice.
You can also have a look at that the associations VdW&Co represent.