Suggestion 2: Recommend professional organizations to participate in.

One of the most significant pieces of advice that faculty members can offer to students is the suggestion of one or more professional organizations to check out. Through their publications, events, and networking opportunities, these organizations provide students with windows into professional practice and link them to people who might be able help students find jobs.

But so many professional organizations serve people in our field; different organizations meet the needs of different students.  Some organizations are more appropriate for academically-focused students—ones who hope to complete a PhD and perhaps become faculty members.  (That’s what most of us promote, because it’s where our interests are met.)

But most of our students plan to become practicing professionals; other organizations typically meet their needs.  And some of our students want hybrid careers, spanning both academe and industry—and some organizations meet their needs.

Even within those broad categories, some students eventually find their professional “homes” in large organizations serving the entire swath of the profession; others feel more comfortable in smaller organizations that focus on one or two specialty areas.

Table 1 lists categorizes and lists organizations to recommend to their students.

Think about this:

  1. Although memberships are rarely free, most organizations offer special rates to encourage students to join.  Make sure you inform your students of these benefits.
  2. Many students feel that joining a LinkedIn or similar group in a social networking space provides the same experience as joining a “real” group.  Although such groups are beneficial, they lack opportunities for one-to-one networking, much less the proprietary information offered by professional organizations.
  3. Even the most gregarious of students typically demonstrates a reluctance to attend meetings of these groups because they feel uncomfortable in a group of strangers. So whenever possible, organize a group to go to one or two of these meetings so students have people to share the experience with.

Table 1: Professional Organizations to Consider Recommending to Students

  Practitioner-focused (even if the members practice in academic institutions)  Academically-focused (that is, on researchers and people who teach in the field)
Essentials q     American Society for Training and Development (  q     Academy of Human Resource Development ( 
Comprehen-sive organi-zations q     Society for Human Resource Management  (     Your additional suggestion(s) q     Academy of Management (  (Specifically consider its HR division)q     American Educational Research Association (

q     Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologists (

q     Your additional suggestion(s)

Specialized organi-zations
  • e-Learning Guild (for profit, though basic membership is free)
  • International Society for Performance Improvement (
  • Society for Technical Communication (
  • Your additional suggestion(s)


  • Association for Educational Communications and Technology (
  • Association for the Advancement of Computers in Education (
  • American Evaluation Association (
  • International Council for Adult Education (
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group (SIG) on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) (
  • Your additional suggestion(s)

What would you like to add?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: