Are you a student trying to decide whether or not to join AITP (or any professional group)? One of the best things that you can do to help yourself plan for the future is to get involved in a professional organization like AITP. From my personal experience, I can tell you first hand that being active in a student chapter has many reward both personally and professionally. I joined AITP as a student member back in 2006 when I was studying as a CIS student at DeKalb Tech (now called Georgia Piedmont Technical College). I'm now a senior finishing up my bachelors in Information Security at Kennesaw State. When I first joined, I thought that AITP was just another computer club to get involved in, but shortly afterwards, I realized that there was so much more to this group than I could ever imagine.
One of the biggest draws to me are the conferences that AITP offers to its student members. We have both a regional and a national conference every year. I've been a part of the conferences for the past couple of years, and I have thoroughly enjoyed them. The national conference in particular has over 500 students attending from over 30 different colleges and universities nationwide. The conference features everything from guest speakers, seminars, breakout sessions, contest, prizes, and job opportunities from the conference sponsors (Microsoft, Dell, State Farm, USAA to name a few). Several contests are offered from PC Troubleshooting, to BI (Business Intelligence), network design, and programming. Just to give you an idea of what the contests are like, Dell had sponsored the network design contest at the National Collegiate Conference in Detroit back in 2007. During that year, the top duo team who won the contest were given new Dell Inspirion laptops and $1000 scholarships. The conference also gives you a chance to meet new friends and colleagues from around the country.
Another good reason to join are the availability of resources students have from their local professional chapter. AITP has over 20,000 members from both student and professional chapters. The networking opportunities are incredible in this organization. One of the best things that students can do is visit the local professional chapter (in this case, AITP Atlanta) and attend the monthly dinner meetings. The AITP Atlanta chapter will always welcome student members to attend. I've been attending the professional chapter meetings for a while now and can tell you that this is a great opportunity to meet professionals in the Metro Atlanta area. Building up your professional network is advantageous because it can give you an edge in job hunting when you get ready to graduate and need help landing your entry-level job. Some of the professionals have been a great reference to me and have helped me with landing my first IT job.
Being an active member does have its rewards. Scholarship opportunities are also available from both the Atlanta chapter and the national AITP. I'm sure all college students can use the funds to help them with tuition costs and books. As most people, I was the recipient of these awards, and they have helped me immensely in continuing my education. In addition, AITP offers retail discounts, volunteer opportunities, career development, and much more.
I've mentioned most of the things that AITP has to offer to student members. But you are more than welcome to explore the AITP Atlanta website, the national AITP website, or your local AITP student chapter website for more details. Joining a professional chapter can certainly help you in the long run down the road in your career paths. So are you ready to join? It is my hope that you get involved and take advantage of the wealth of resources that this great organization has to offer.