As a newcomer to Canada, you may face several challenges searching for employment, among them lack of a professional network, no local work experience, and an unknown reputation. While there are a multitude of useful resources available, membership in a professional association can help to address these challenges by doing the following:
- Providing opportunities to meet professionals in your field and develop a network
- Offering professional development courses and workshops where you can demonstrate your Canadian relevance and experience
- Giving you opportunities to engage and volunteer in a professional Canadian context so you can become known and trusted in your field
In a recent live webinar we examined the role professional associations can play in establishing newcomers’ careers in Canada. Below, we discuss a few key takeaways to help orient you to Canada’s professional associations.
The Purpose of a Professional Association
Professional associations seek to promote and support the interests of a particular profession and its members. They keep members informed by providing updates and training, and function as a resource for those who want to enter the field.
By offering courses, events, volunteer opportunities, and more, professional associations connect you to other professionals in your industry. They offer key insights that can help you decide your next steps. Your involvement in an association can be added to your résumé to indicate your relevance and investment in the field.
Professional associations offer a wide array of services, some of which include the following:
- Research and insights into current trends in the profession
- Professional development
- Networking events
- Job boards
- Resources and tools
Choosing the Right Professional Association
There are four types of professional associations, which vary in terms of their function, activities, and services: professional regulatory, certifying, member-benefit, and designation-granting.
Professional regulatory bodies focus on imposing professional standards and help to protect the public from any unethical practices of the profession. To be licensed, practitioners in regulated professions must hold membership in a professional association specific to their field. Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia is an example of a regulatory body.
A certifying body awards credentials to professionals who meet the specific requirements of the profession. For example, the Project Management Institute offers the Project Management Professional certification.
A member-benefit professional association gives its members access to resources that can help them in their specific career. The Canadian Marketing Association, for example, helps marketers expand their knowledge of the industry.
And, finally, a designation-granting association allows members to demonstrate their professional status. The Human Resources Professionals Association administers the Certified Human Resources Professional designation to give HR practitioners a way to signify their expertise.
To choose the right association for you, research the various types and consider the following:
- Membership and associated fees
- Whether or not membership is a requirement in your profession
- Types of activities and events offered
- Reputation of the association
- Opportunities to get involved
By doing some thoughtful research, you will find associations that best align with you and your profession in Canada. You can find a list of professional associations here; however, this list is not exhaustive. Look for professionals in your field on LinkedIn and see which associations they are members of. This will give you a good indication of the popularity and prominence of a given association as you conduct more research.
Maximizing Your Membership
It is not enough to simply join a professional association. To really benefit, commit to being an active member. Attend networking events, volunteer your time, connect with a mentor, and participate in professional development opportunities. Market your membership and leadership activity on your résumé to show prospective employers that you are engaged in your profession in Canada.
Professional Immigrant Networks
Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) is a network of professional associations and partner organizations that supports the development of immigrant professionals in their careers in Canada. The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council leads the PINs initiative, and encourages collaboration across the network.
Led by immigrants, associations in the network serve a wide range of professions and communities. They partner with employers, immigrant-serving agencies, community groups, government, and other stakeholders in the Greater Toronto Area—all of which are committed to helping members achieve their employment goals.
Find a PIN that is right for you via the complete directory, searchable by profession or cultural identity.
In this on-demand webinar, two internationally trained professionals who benefited from the PINs program, Jenny Okonkwo and Marcela Chein, share how their respective PIN organizations played a role in their career success in Canada.
Watch the full on-demand webinar here.