First of all, what is a Professional Association? Have you ever asked yourself this question when Career Services has talked about them in the past? The definition of a Professional Association according to Wikipedia is as follows: “A professional association is usually a nonprofit organization seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession, and the public interest.” Or put simplistically, professional associations are a great way to expand your knowledge in the industry you want to pursue AND most definitely, expand your network.
In the accounting industry there are many different professional associations to research depending on your specialization. The Massachusetts Society of CPAs (MSCPA) is an organization that I have worked with over the years. They are helpful in providing information on CPA firms throughout the state, providing contact information, offering educational programs for all levels, and that’s just the beginning. Not planning on staying in Massachusetts? Not to worry. There are Society of CPAs in pretty much every state. And, most professional associations offer student rates, so get in while the membership is cheap!
Looking into another area of expertise? There are so many other options. If you are an ISAC major, I would recommend you look into ISACA. In addition to great networking opportunities, they provide information regarding sitting for the CISA as well as other certifications with a technology emphasis.
If Internal Audit is your focus, The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) is for you! And, take advantage of the resources on campus that can help you increase your knowledge of this area through coursework and pursuing the Internal Audit Track within the Accountancy Department.
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) is another great organization to pursue if you are looking into a CFE. They also have student membership and they are definitely interested in increasing their membership.
Beyond this sampling there are many more professional associations that would fall within your disciplines. Take advantage of these great resources. They might just make the difference in your internship or full time job search!