(This blog was previously posted in 2010 on Blogging4Broke, a nonprofit career advice blog.)
A simple and dynamic way to reconnect with your career choice is to join the professional organization associated with that type of job. For example, I’m an educator who specializes in teaching English, as a second language. The professional organization associated with my career is called TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). For less than 100 dollars, I renewed my TESOL membership. Since then I’ve been able to learn about the latest research in the field, training opportunities, and job announcements.
When I first joined, they asked me to select from various interest sections, email listserves. I signed up for several and was flooded with emails. Then I went back and revised my areas of interest to get more specific information that pertained to my needs. That’s when I read an announcement from an individual looking for assistance in moderating an online, volunteer TESOL professional development session of the Computer-assisted Language Learning Interest Section (CALL-IS). I responded immediately and took the necessary moderator training to teach the session. I taught the six-week session and felt pleased to be a part of my professional organization once again, even as a volunteer.
Secondly, you often feel isolated from peer interaction when you’re looking for work. By joining TESOL, I connected with peers from around the world via the listserve, training, and now through teaching. I’ve learned from my peers via informal training, and also took a formal course offered for a certificate program. It’s been wonderful to add new technology skills and reevaluate my teaching methodology to include that of the online facilitator. Furthermore, the experience forced me to revise my job search documents related to my teaching philosophy, resume, and cover letter.
Thirdly, professional organizations provide you with access to conferences regionally, nationally, and internationally. Most professional conferences hold a job market during the convention. Last spring, TESOL, offered reduced rates on what they called their “stimulus plan.” TESOL plans to offer membership deals in the future. Perhaps your profession offers reduced costs to attend their conferences or free webinars. You won’t know until you investigate. At least, look into joining an organization and read about their perks on the membership page. Maybe you think that $95 is too expensive right now since you’re unemployed…I’m here to tell you that it has really paid off as an investment in my career.
Furthermore, the mentor of our online training asked the trainees if anyone would be interested in presenting on the volunteer experience and the outcome of the session at the TESOL conference. Once again, I jumped at the opportunity and used my airline rewards miles to travel to the conference for free. While I was at the conference, I also collected free resources, volunteered, and attended as many presentations as possible. Plus, I was able to reconnect with former employers! This series of events came about simply by renewing my membership with my professional organization. I urge you to do the same. Good luck!
Here’s a link to the various TESOL Interest Sections: http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/sec_document.asp?CID=161&DID=550
Sandra Annette Rogers