As highly motivated Drexel students, you are constantly thinking about your careers and future accomplishments. An integral and gratifying aspect of your career will be participating in professional organizations. In my many years as a tax specialist, I have found professional organizations to be extremely beneficial in helping me accomplish my career goals.
To start with, these organizations will help you establish a place in your professional “community.” For example, the Tax Executives Institute (TEI) is a national tax organization for in-house tax professionals with local chapters throughout the country. I had been a long-time member of the Philadelphia Chapter’s State and Local Tax Committee and attended monthly meetings for years. The Committee consists of highly respected, well-known tax accountants and lawyers from the Philadelphia area. Over time, I got to know the committee members very well and became a regular part of the greater Philadelphia tax community.
A huge benefit of joining a professional organization is the opportunity to network with colleagues who have similar backgrounds and interests. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of professional networking is exchanging experiences and ideas that will help improve your job performance.
A truly rewarding outcome of networking is that you will make lifelong friends. Based in Washington DC, The Council on State Taxation (COST) is the premier state tax organization in the country. COST has over 600 members, representing most of the largest companies in the United States. While working in private industry, I had the privilege of being on the Board of Directors of COST for nine years and an active member for over 20 years. During that time, I attended many COST events at delightful locations and met fellow tax professionals from all parts of the country. I also had the fantastic opportunity to speak at COST conferences and tax schools. As my mentor, Paul Frankel, once told me, when you join COST you make friends for life. He was right on the money. I met one of my closest friends at my first COST meeting in Lexington, Kentucky… 30 years ago!
Finally, participating in professional organizations is important to becoming a well-rounded expert in your chosen field. It is obviously essential to develop technical skills and deep knowledge of the subject matter, but the close relationships you develop through professional organizations will clearly increase your value to your employer.
I have been very fortunate to belong to several outstanding professional tax organizations over the years, and it has positively impacted my career and network. I highly recommend that you consider membership in a professional organization a priority as you begin your career.
You will not regret it!