You may think Professional Bodies are something you only need to engage with once you’ve graduated. If that’s so, you could be missing out on the real advantages they can offer students.
What is a Professional Body?
They are societies and associations that promote specific careers or sectors and the people within them. There are hundreds of professional bodies in the UK and they undertake a range of activities. They accredit degree programmes, host events, offer continuing professional development schemes and lobby their members’ interests with the media and government.
For some professions, for example accountancy and surveying, a professional qualification is a requirement to practice. Professional bodies set the formal route for these qualifications.
But they don’t just offer advantages to professionals. Professional Bodies can be an invaluable resource for students to capitalise on.
What are the key benefits of joining?
First of all, many professional bodies offer free, or reduced membership to students so it won’t necessarily cost you anything to reap the following benefits:
- Information, information, information! About roles within the profession, typical career paths, qualification, employer information, careers advice etc.
- Job vacancies. Most Professional Body websites will have a section for vacancy listings.
- Networking opportunities. It’s worth looking out for local branch activities, as well as larger conferences, as these can be invaluable opportunities to meet like-minded students and professionals to build up your list of contacts.
- Funding. Many Professional Bodies provide funding in various forms for students. For example, travel bursaries to take part in a work placement, or bursaries to cover travel to conferences etc.
- Commercial awareness. Professional body websites are a great source for news updates and dissemination of key information which can really help with that commercial awareness employers are looking for at interview.
- For your CV. Being a member of a Professional Body is a great addition to a CV and demonstrates a good level of commitment to your chosen career.
How can I find them?
A quick google search on your chosen career and “professional body” will bring up the key players. You could also try the terms “Institute” and “Association” to be absolutely sure you’ve got the most relevant associations to consider. You could also take a look through Wikipedia’s List of professional associations in the United Kingdom. Bear in mind that organisations can change and rebrand and new associations spring up all the time, so it’s best to do some research and be wary of treating any lists as exhaustive.