Ten Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering a Membership in a Professional Society

Monday, April 02, 2012 2:42 PM | Amina Abdullah, PhD (Administrator)

Ten Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering a Membership in a Professional Society


~by Audrey Donaldson, Ed.D. c.
    IPSA Contributor

There are an number of professional societies, both national and international, in existence. Some are well known, but many others exist that may support your interests.  It is important to take time to investigate the professional society that your are considering joining so that you are satisfied with your decision. Below are 10 questions that you can ask yourself.

1. Is the purpose or mission statement aligned with your professional goals?
Do not be misled by the name of the organization, nor by its popularity. Locate the mission statement to identify the purpose of the professional society. Then do some research to see if the activities and accomplishments match-up to reflect the mission. These should be in alignment with your own goals.

2. Where do you fit in the organization, now and in the future?
No one knows you better than yourself, so perform a self-assessment to determine where you may fit into the organization. The organizational structure may help you to identify a path, especially if you are interested in filling a leadership position. You may be able to identify a specific role to serve to enhance the organization in the provision of services or to support its functions. Activities, events, and special projects may also highlight how you can be an asset to the society.

3. Are the meeting locations feasible for you to attend?
Although you may decide that a professional society is an ideal fit, the location for meetings may pose a great challenge. Make sure you are clear about the organizations meeting locations. Sometimes conference calls, Skype, and other options may afford opportunities for attendance, especially for committee meetings and during inclement weather.

4. Based on the frequency of meetings, will you be able to attend on a regular basis?
Meeting dates and requirements for attendance are also critical. This includes your availability for additional meetings when you serve on committees. E-meetings or other asynchronous formats may alleviate the pressure of real-time meetings. This is especially critical for those who may travel on a regular basis or when busy, irregular schedules limit the ability to commit to attending meetings.

5. Must a member of the organization recommend you for membership or can you join on your own?
Membership drives take place for some professional societies, but not all. When professional societies require that current members submit candidate names for membership consideration you may not feel that you have an opportunity to join. However, if you contact the organization identifying yourself with a statement about your interest in the organization, and the role you intend to fill, you may be contacted to join.

6. Which committees do you see yourself joining?
Review the list of committees operating within a professional society. You may identify one or more to join. Your service and contributions may support your ideas for new committees of interest as you prove your value and commitment over time. Finding the best fit cannot be over-emphasized so do not overlook committee work as a vital feature of membership.

7. Can you identify any significant contributions that you can make as a member of this organization?
Knowing what you do about your own talents and interests, seek to discover the possibilities for you as a member in a professional society. Based on the organization’s activities and goals, identify specific actions that may be perceived as valuable contributions. When you can clearly see that a professional society can benefit from your membership, you may want to add this one to the list of professional societies to consider.

8. How important is it to seek diversity?
In addition to the considerations for local, regional, national, and international memberships are options for gender-specific and/or cultural-specific organizations.  If there is a woman's society in your field, or one specific to ethnicity or culture, you may want to balance membership in this organization with one that is more inclusive. On the other hand, if you seek to establish a special branch, local chapter, or new society, membership in a similar organization may serve to prepare you and perhaps support you on this mission.

9. Which professional societies are most suitable?
Burnout can be avoided with careful selection. Know yourself and how to balance your schedule.  In some cases, one membership may serve your needs. Make sure that you benefit as well as the organization. However, multiple memberships may provide a good balance to support your interests.

10. How much should I expect to pay as a member of a professional society?
This is a good question. The best case scenario is to find out before you are considered as a candidate. If you are unable to discover the fees: membership fees, assessments, conference registration, special projects, etc. be concerned. This is an important question and your decision not to ask may result in a costly endeavor.

Here is a list of various professional societies within the field of Education.

Enjoy your search in discovering the many professional societies. Investigate thoroughly before investing your time, energy, and money. Best of luck in your search!

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