Well, that sounds fancy, to consider myself a “young professional”. I first heard about these young professional organizations during an on campus interview. When I asked what the other entry level professionals did outside of work, two mentioned they had joined the local young professionals’ organization (association?). They listed off some fun things they did with the group. Since I wound up not getting that job, I didn’t really think of it again.
Back during the summer when I was in my “I NEED TO MAKE FRIENDS NOW” phase, I decided to see if my city had a young professionals group. It did and I started following the Twitter account. Unfortunately, that was right around RA training so I didn’t have time to go to any events. In fact, I was unable to attend an event until after Thanksgiving. I also decided to attend my first event on a whim – I checked Twitter right before leaving work and saw that they were hosting a happy hour that night.
When I got there, I had to force myself to walk into the building. What was I doing? I was going to an event ALONE. That’s something I had never done before. Honestly – I’m terrible at networking. I cannot walk up to people and just start chatting. I’m so awkward. After forcing myself through the door, my deer-in-headlights look caught the attention of two other girls close in age to me. It turns out they both had gone to the same college as me. It honestly felt a little like a sorority recruitment event. I’d learn a fact about somebody, they’d learn something about me, then pass me off to the next person.
Pros? It’s a great way to meet people and make friends. I’m definitely in it more for the making friends aspect, but one of my friends used it to leave her crappy job and get a better one. It’s also a way to find out about other fun events. Some people from the group get together to play kickball every week. Also, my group throws a lot of large events so you can join the committee for those and learn skills you might not get at your job, like event planning and budgeting.
Cons? The term “young” seemed rather subjective at the event I went to. I was definitely one of the youngest people there, which seemed a little strange because not only did I go to grad school, but I took time off, so in theory there should have been some people younger than me. There were some people that looked like they were in their mid-forties to early fifties which (sorry) does not seem young to me. My friend thinks she’s going to meet the love of her life there, but unless I plan on dating some forty five year old lawyer, I’m not sure I’m going to find Mr. Right at one of these events.
I definitely recommend checking to see if your city has a young professionals group!!