Joining one of the dozens of engineering student organizations at Texas A&M is integral to the student experience for many Aggies. Many of the groups are student chapter versions of national and global professional societies, which you can transition to after graduation. Engaging with these professional organizations as a student can lead to unique networking and leadership opportunities!
I’ve been involved with the Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) collegiate sections throughout my engineering education. Last year, I took a leap and decided to get involved at the society level! As a graduate member coordinator, I represent graduate students’ interests to the SWE Board of Directors and represent SWE to graduate students around the world. Through this position, I have received leadership training with other committee chairs/coordinators and identified role models and mentors through networking. I have seen the impact of the camaraderie and resource access that continued involvement in these types of organizations can have and, while I’ll be sad to say goodbye to my student organization experiences, I’m excited that my membership doesn’t have to end with graduation!
Here are the reasons you should consider getting more involved with professional organizations and ways to get started!
Networking For Your Future
Getting more involved with a professional society can broaden your network by helping you interface with professionals from various stages in their careers. In my experience, putting my name out there in the Power and Energy Society, which is part of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) led to potential research collaborators, mentors and job interviews!
Unique Leadership Experience
In many organizations, college students are not restricted from joining committees or volunteer teams. Some organizations even have scholarships or programs for “future leaders” that are geared toward students. Leadership or training within a globally recognized professional group can help a resume stand out and provide interesting material for interviews.
First, make sure you’re a dues-paying member of the organization and research what perks are included in your membership. Some societies have quarterly magazines, which are great for staying up-to-date on trends in your field; others have members-only job sites, which are helpful for finding your first job in a specific field.
Next, keep your eye out for volunteer opportunities, regional meet-ups and other ways to leverage your membership to help you become a well-rounded student ready for your career!
Get the Student Chapter Involved
If you or someone you know is in your student chapter leadership, encourage them to explore opportunities to develop partnerships outside of Texas A&M. Local professional chapters are a great source for guest speakers or mentors for your student group! Participating in their existing programming, such as industry tours or professional development workshops, is a great collaboration, as is planning events together. There may be regional, national, or global conferences of interest to your members as well.
Whether you’re looking for your next mentor, leadership opportunity or job, consider getting involved with a professional society — you never know what opportunities you may encounter by reaching beyond your student organization!