You can’t expect Gen Y to graduate college and magically realize the benefits of professional organizations. I’ve been out of college for nearly 10 years and have only just joined my first professional organization, and only after being told repeatedly that I should.
Especially when it’s difficult to find a job, much less a career, spending money on a professional organization might feel like a waste of time and money. You need to recruit Gen Y when they are most impressionable and willing to try new things. You need to catch the future thought leaders of your industry before they take a job at Starbucks. You need a student chapter.
Lets take a look at a few associations already doing student chapters well:
The Society for Human Resource Management
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) makes it easy for students to join and participate. Students anywhere can join SHRM because they have a strong digital presence.
Members receive useful information that informs them on their future industry: digital magazines monthly, newsletters with research reports, sample HR documents and templates to help with coursework, access to online discussion forums and networking sites, scholarships, access to internships, discounts on exams and exam prep materials, conferences and seminars.
On campuses, the organization is run by elected student officers, giving students real life leadership experience that will help them succeed in a post graduate work environment.
Society of Women Engineers
The Society of Women Engineers makes their organization attractive to college students because they know that building a larger community of women will create better idea sharing and more voices and perspectives will contribute to issues.
Opportunities to fill leadership roles in a non-threatening environment is a draw to this organization. Membership includes access to scholarships, an online career center where students can get help with résumé writing and job hunting, career guidance and have opportunities to lead seminars and workshops at a national level.
Collegiate membership comes at a low one-time fee and allows students membership for their entire college career and even through the first year of their professional membership.
American Library Association
What goes together better than college students and libraries? It comes as no surprise that the American Library Association (ALA) is serious about its student chapters. They even run a student chapter of the year contest (the winner of which this year is at Florida State University) to constantly push improving student chapters.
Perhaps in part because it is rewarded, ALA student chapters strive at recruiting, retaining and communicating with members using technology. They have a commitment to through strategic planning and strong leadership.
To ensure strong leaders, ALA has created an established mentor network that provides students and professionals an environment to share expertise and an opportunity to learn.
Most student chapters offer the staples of what college students need: scholarships, career services, low membership cost. To get students to recognize the value in your organization, to really engage them, you will need to go above and beyond the basics, add value to their college and professional experience.
Student chapters will help you recruit and retain Gen Y; which means your association has a future. Membership in your student chapter will help Millennials succeed post-graduation, so they too have a future.