It's Always the Right Time to Join an Association

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Whether you're looking to get promoted, are worried about losing your job, or are currently in transition, here's one thing you should do if you haven't already: get out there and connect with the local chapter of a professional association.

Professional associations offer the chance to network with peers in the industry as well as stay on top of trends in your field. And if you don't have a job, they can be a great source of job market information. That holds whether you're a new graduate or an experienced professional.

"Some graduates are hesitant to get involved with an association their first year out of school, but those who join see the benefits immediately," Sandra B. Richtermeyer, a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Management Accountant who is the incoming board chair of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). "Meeting new contacts at various career stages can help graduates benchmark where they want to be in five to 10 years."

Those graduating in the next few years can get a head start in gaining experience by obtaining internships, getting involved on campus, or volunteering with nonprofit organizations. Most trade associations significantly discount dues for student members.

In addition, Richtermeyer suggests selecting a minor that complements studies in accounting, such as information technology. Acquiring foreign language skills or learning about entrepreneurship can also help students stand out from their peers.

If accounting is your profession, along with IMA, consider these accounting trade associations:

American College of Forensic Examiners

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

American Society of Woman Accountants

Association of Government Accountants

Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting

Institute of Internal Auditors

National Association of Black Accountants

National Society of Accountants

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