Joining a Professional Network as a Student

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In my opinion, students should be presented with the benefits of joining a professional network early into their careers. Connecting with experienced professionals puts one smack dab in the middle of a ‘live’ education experience in an environment that is dynamic, supportive and progressive. When I joined the Decorators & Designers Association of Canada as a student, it helped to elevate and expedite my learning curve as a new decorator.

While University programs provided me with a formal platform for increasing my knowledge and earning valuable qualifications, it was connecting with like-minded decorators and designers where I truly felt part of a forward-looking career journey. From the very first meeting, I was welcomed by accomplished professionals who started out just like me and were willing to share their . Not only would it expand my support network, it would become my ‘go to’ resource for how to manage client relationships.

Additional resources with my membership allowed me to attend the product knowledge events which opened the door to new suppliers within the community, learn about the latest technology and marvel at the product innovation currently on the market. The special pricing advantages is a bonus too when starting out in a new business! The events were a refreshing way to exchange ideas, get some constructive feedback and boost my self esteem as a new kid on the block.

Attending monthly meetings started me off on the right foot. These meetings would give me experience in a formal meeting structure as to how the executive and committees were structured within the association both locally and nationally. I felt I could contribute to positively influence the business of the chapter. Serving as a volunteer with this professional organization added more depth to my resume.

One of the largest advantages as a student member is the access to an extensive website that includes both public and member only access. Their monthly newsletter delivered to my inbox reminds me of all the DDA Tools (members only) available on the site. From perks such as sketch-up discounts, to professional, health and dental insurance, to an industry job board, to exclusive articles and tons of continuing education programs - this site is robust! With DDA, continuing education goes beyond the classroom. On the site I learned more about Canada’s legislation that supports or can hinder the industry’s growth and read an excellent blog on by an interior designer who is also a Certified Aging Place Specialist (CAPS).

The site is now a one-stop, reliable resource for me to get all the latest information on industry conferences and trade shows. Most shows also have a student admission and I enjoy being in the excitement of new product launches and hearing from the movers and shakers of this creative industry. It might even be a good place for me to meet my next employer. Then there’s the annual DDA gala where all the best of the best awards is presented. Check out the student category – maybe you’ll see my name there next!

As I begin to build my brand, being part of the DDA just seems to make good sense. But I wasn’t 100% sold until I walked into a retail store and mentioned that I was a student with DDA. It was instant credibility – even as an aspiring student. Now, I use the student logo where I can to create even more visibility. And I hope one day to be able to give back to a new student the same way this profession has given to me.

Written by Lori Bayne, Student Member
Student Sky Topaz

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