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Secondary professional socialization is a phase of occupational socialization theory that focuses on graduate education in preparation for a career in academia. Due to the need to present and publish research and make professional contacts, professional organizations likely serve an important socializing function during graduate education. The purpose of this exploratory study was to understand graduate students’ perspectives of participating in professional organizations. Participants included 16 health and physical education graduate students who shared their experiences in focus group interviews. Data were analyzed using constant comparison and inductive analysis. Results indicate graduate students become involved in professional organizations primarily due to faculty encouragement. Participants highlighted networking as a benefit of involvement, and viewed professional learning and opportunities to present research as important to their career development. Results are discussed through the lens of occupational socialization theory, and limitations and implications for graduate student training are shared.
Richards is with the Department of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. Eberline is with School of Kinesiology, Ball State University, Muncie, IN. Templin is with the School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.