Message From the President

Professional Associations: Membership Has Reward
By Carol Ferrazzo, MnDHA President

A few years ago, Lindsey Pollack with ABC news wrote an article on Professional Associations and the rewards of membership. I would to give a synopsis of her words to encourage everyone to join their association and maintain their membership. College students and recent grads need to try everything they can to land a job. One often-overlooked resource is the world of professional associations. Here is Lindsey Pollack's advice:

These organizations exist to support, educate and provide resources for professionals in a particular industry or profession.

Some are really small and others are as huge as corporations. Some are full of young members and others could use some fresh faces. Some are super active and some only meet occasionally.

What can a professional association do for you? Here are some suggestions:

"Professionalize" your resume. Membership in a professional association is a seal of approval in many fields. It shows that you understand the importance of professional networking and you're an invested member of the career field you'd like to join.

Membership also allows you to "graduate" from looking like a student on your resume to looking like a professional (think of the different message it sends to list membership in the Student Member of the ADHA at your school versus membership in the American Dental Hygienists' Association, the leading association in that field).

Make networking easier. It can be weird and scary to reach out to strangers and ask for help with your job search. As a member of a professional association, that difficulty is eased through events where networking is actively encouraged.

Many associations also offer formal mentoring programs, LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages, listservs and job boards to facilitate member networking.

Will established professional association members want to network with students and recent grads? The answer is an emphatic yes.

"Fellow association members are usually happy to help students in their ranks," says D'Uva, who is president of SOCAP (Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals) International. "I encourage proactivity. If you know what you want to do, call the organization and say, 'I've just joined and I'd like to find a mentor or volunteer to serve on a committee.'

Identify yourself as a fellow member and have clear questions. If you legitimately want to learn more about the profession and do informational interviews, people will be happy to offer some advice. Use the organization name as a way to open a door.

Increase industry knowledge. One of my biggest recommendations to job seekers is to learn as much as you can about the industries and companies you want to join. Professional associations can help you do this.

Provide relocation opportunities. Another value of associations is the exposure to people beyond your local area. "We have members who represent companies from across the country and around the world," D'Uva says. "This allows you to develop networks for wherever you might be interested in moving."

Offer job opportunities in the association world. Don't forget about opportunities to work for a professional association-they are a big employer segment in every state across the country.

Association management is an underreported profession. It's a really great place for someone just out of college. You're not pigeonholed to do one thing. A lot of associations are run by relatively small staffs, so as an entry-level person you have the opportunity to be exposed to a wide variety of tasks, and your responsibilities can grow exponentially.

You are involved in discussions with an industry's thought leaders and you are the person that is working to execute and put into reality the aspirations of that group. It is a very rich and rewarding career.

In summary, ADHA creates a community for all dental hygienists. ADHA helps you invest in your future. Becoming an ADHA member means you can take advantage of the up-to-date information we share about emerging technologies, insights we publish on professional and educational opportunities, timely alerts on legislative developments, and a calendar of events you can use to network with your peers.

Carol Ferrazzo

I am Carol Ferrazzo, the current MnHA President. I graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with an associate's degree in Dental Hygiene and a Bachelor's degree in Community Health. I am currently taking business courses at Metropolitan State University.

I have served MnDHA in several positions throughout the years with the most recent offices of President-Elect and now President. I have served as a delegate, both at the state and national levels for Minnesota, newsletter editor, and held the position of Treasurer for 8 years. I also have served on many councils and ad hoc committees for MnDHA, and served as a finance council member for ADHA.

As a leader of MnDHA, I encourage all people to become a member of their professional association. Membership in a professional association is a seal of approval in many fields. It shows that you understand the importance of professional networking and you're an invested member of the career field you'd like to join. Team means Together Everyone Achieves More!