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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How Joining a Professional Association Made an Impact On My Life and Career

Networking is one of the most critical aspects to a successful job search. There is probably no better way to grow and action your network than by joining and becoming a leader in professional associations. To help illustrate what a leadership role in a professional association can do for you to help grow your career, Kathy Leal, an Associate in our Ft. Lauderdale, FL office, describes for us her experience getting involved with the ALPFA and Beta Alpha Psi chapters at her University, and the impact that it had on her life and her career.

At the beginning of my junior year in the spring of 2007 at Florida International University (FIU), I was encouraged by a friend to join the Accounting Association/ALPFA Miami Student Chapter. I was hesitant to attend the first meeting, afraid that I wouldn’t know anyone besides my friend. The moment I walked in I was greeted by friendly members of the executive board and immediately felt at home and decided to join.

That first meeting made me realize how unprepared I was to enter the real world and pursue a career in accounting. I met people who motivated and guided me to do better in school, work, and life. To this day I am still pushed to always do my best. I was extremely active my first semester in the organization and was top member. I made many lifelong friends, learned about the accounting field, and pushed myself into a world of new experiences. I decided to run for a position on the executive board, even though public speaking was one of my biggest fears and inherently from the fear, a weakness. I felt it was my duty to give back to this organization that had helped me grow so much in just a few months. I became secretary for the fall 2007 semester and with every meeting, my fear of public speaking and shyness gradually disappeared. As secretary, I was able to not only perform my duties on the board, but also the duties of many others as well. I learned an invaluable lesson about teamwork. I went on to be President-Elect, President, and Consulting Officer of my school's ALPFA Chapter. My last semester at FIU, I joined Beta Alpha Psi. I was able to expand my network and get to know more of my future colleagues by being a member of both organizations.

Many say they run for the executive board so that they can get a job, but there is so much more to it. It’s hard work, but if done right, can be incredibly rewarding. I grew as a person and became more confident in my abilities. Had I not joined any organization, I would not have met all the great people I now call my friends and, more importantly, I would not be able to say I work for McGladrey. I encourage everyone to get involved and stay involved beyond school. Continue to work hard and not give up until you have achieved your goals.

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