Joining A Professional Organization: Is It Worth It?

Exploring the benefits of AIGA



I recently joined AIGA. (The professional association for design was formerly known as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, but it now just “AIGA.”) I had been toying with the idea for a while, but was finally inspired when Rose DiSanto stood up at Creative Mornings to promote AIGA Philadelphia’s new Civic + Community Engagement initiative, which she’s leading. To me, C+CE sounded like a good way to meet a community of people who care about similar issues, while also approaching those issues with a designer mindset. But I had to be a member to join the committee.


So I did! But it was only after I paid my dues that I learned about all the benefits of membership. And there are a ton!


Events

Immediately after joining AIGA, I received an invitation to an event—a pizza party! That may sound cheesy (har har) but the pizza was high-quality (and free!), and I got to meet a bunch of interesting people. For starters, I introduced myself to the members of the C+CE committee. Then I chatted with a woman who works at a design studio in Philly and loves architecture. Then I met a student who has created an nonprofit that is helping bridge the divide between Temple University and the community that surrounds it by creating and upgrading community spaces.


Awesome events that are free or discounted is a major benefit of joining a professional organization. Especially if you’re an introvert like me, going to events can be a great way to get out of your comfort zone, enjoy some good food, and meet some cool people with similar interests. (Gosh, if you join a professional organization, you may just be able to cancel your OkCupid subscription!)


Finding Your Tribe

Speaking of meeting people you might share something with, professional organizations are networking central! Connecting with like-minded people is essential for a prosperous career, so joining a group that’s explicitly about your chosen field is an excellent proposition. You’re sure to find collaborators, mentors, future employers, and references there.


Health Insurance?!

I turn 26 in less than a month. You know what that means—I’m getting kicked off my mom’s health insurance. But AIGA is there to help! The first time I skimmed through their benefits page, I saw something about health insurance and mentally bookmarked it for later.

Well, later has arrived, so I’ve begun chatting with the representative who’s going to assist me in choosing a plan and signing up! I’ve been dreading the process of obtaining my own health insurance for a year now, but after our first conversation, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a breeze.


Professional Development

A few weeks after that first pizza party I attended, I was able to officially join the committee and attend my first meeting. Now I’m working with another committee member to organize a mural-painting event for our members! If you follow my personal Instagram, you know how perfect a fit that is.


I wouldn’t have had this opportunity had I not joined AIGA. What opportunities might you be missing? Join your local professional organization today.

©2020 Eric Dale Creative

freelance designer • freelance photographer • freelance writer • career coach