A few weeks ago, I wrote an entry about attending the AMA (American Marketing Association) Atlanta Collegiate Conference and what a rewarding experience it was for me. I think many college students overlook the importance of getting involved with professional organizations related to their major and how helpful joining these organizations or just participating in their events can be. Organizations like AMA have a large network of professionals in the industry who are eager to help current students in any way they can, whether it’s through sharing information or introducing you to potential employers. Conferences and workshops sponsored by professional organizations can be an extremely beneficial way to develop your professionalism, expand your network of professional contacts, and learn about and hone the skills necessary to succeed in the industry. Many organizations sponsor events that teach participating students what companies are looking for in candidates, how to present yourself on your resume and in interviews, and which niches in the industry are growing. Additionally, many organizations sponsor competitions or outlets for students to gain hands-on experience with case studies, creating and giving presentations, conducting research, etc. The skills that can be obtained through these competitions can be invaluable and can help you tremendously in the transition from college to the “real world,” and in your interview process.

Especially for those of you who still have some time left before graduation, I would highly recommend looking into organizations that are related to your major or the industry you’d like to go into. Not only is it a great way to get involved while boosting your resume and adding professional value, but membership in these organizations can be a great learning experience and, for some, a way to step outside your comfort zone. Below I’ve listed some of the professional or pre-professional organizations at UGA, but they exist for a wide variety of majors and industries.

Ad Club: This organization is primarily for advertising students and offers weekly meetings with speakers, workshops, annual agency tours, an annual banquet, and programs such as the “8-hour Intern Program.”

AMA: The campus chapter of AMA works as a student-run marketing organization and helps multiple companies each semester by helping to solve their business problems. I would also recommend looking into the AMA Atlanta Collegiate organization, which offers the annual Collegiate Conference and other workshops and events.

AMSA: The American Medical Student Association is the largest independent medical student organization and provides volunteer opportunities, healthcare-related experiences, leadership opportunities, speakers, and additional events to its members.

PRSSA: The Public Relations Student Society of America’s mission is to serve members by enhancing their knowledge of public relations and providing access to professional development opportunities, including the annual PRSSA National Conference, the Creative Consultants student-run PR firm, networking opportunities, speakers, seminars, etc.

Psi Chi: This organization in the UGA Department of Psychology is for high-achieving psychology students and offers events including an annual convention where students can compete

Student Merchandising Association: This organization is designed for students majoring in Fashion Merchandising in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. SMA’s function is to provide Fashion Merchandising students with the opportunity to develop and enhance skills needed to obtain a career in the fashion industry. SMA offers events such as an annual fashion show, resume-building seminars, career fairs, speakers from the fashion industry, etc.

Women in Business: The goal of UGA’s Women in Business organization is to give students a chance to gain insight into the business world while still in college and the organization works to develop time management skills, communication skills, and leadership skills in its members through guest speakers, social events, volunteer opportunities, etc.