By Lanay Mudd, Ph.D.
Chair, ACM Student Affairs Committee
Being an international student studying in the U.S. comes with many exciting opportunities, but also some challenges. How do you get involved with your program of study? What about research? What should you do after getting your degree? How do you make contacts “in the field”? How can you get opportunities to present your research? Being a student member of the ACSM can help you with all of these challenges and many others!
There are several benefits of being an ACSM member for U.S. and International students alike. Perhaps the most important benefit for students that ACSM provides are the opportunities to network and meet others interested in your area, from fellow students to world-renown experts. This networking process takes place in person when attending regional and national ACSM meetings, and also online where members can take advantage of the ACSM membership directory, as well as a new online mentoring service called MentorNet. New this year, student members of ACSM will be able to sign up with MentorNet to get matched up with a mentor in their field of interest who is a long-time ACSM member. This online mentor might live across the country from where you are, but will still be able to give you advice on your educational and career options, and how to best use ACSM to your advantage! The more people you know, the more options you will have when you get ready to take that “next step” with your career, and ACSM works hard to connect it’s members worldwide.
Another benefit of being an ACSM member is the opportunity to present your own research at regional and national meetings. Presenting research is good not only for building your CV, but also as an opportunity to practice and improve communication and presentation skills. Responding to questions is always a nerve-wracking part of presenting, but it also gives you the chance to discuss your findings with others interested in your work and can lead to new ideas for your next study, and potentially new colleagues to collaborate with. Along with presenting your work, ACSM offers several student awards on the regional and national level. Competing for these awards gives you the chance to distinguish yourself from others, and perhaps gain money for research or travel to the meetings.
As Darijan Suton, a doctoral student at Michigan State University says “Being an ACSM member has helped me quite a lot. I have learned a lot by presenting at the meetings, especially on how to communicate, present, and express ideas. I also think that meeting people from different backgrounds helps with professional development, and overall interaction is beneficial. It has also helped me to learn quicker I think, just by reading papers or updates on current events in ACSM, and competing for awards, etc.” The best way to take advantage of these and other benefits of ACSM membership is to join now and get involved. Ask your Regional Student Representative for ways to connect with ACSM – he or she might ask you to help plan a regional student activity, or they might suggest you run for Student Rep yourself! Check out all of our chapters here.
As the leading organization for sports medicine and exercise science, ACSM can do a lot to help further your education/career, whether you plan to continue to live and work in the U.S. or around the world.