Young Professionals Council offers many benefits

Sunday, May 28, 2017

News Miner Community Perspective

When I moved to Fairbanks in May 2014, I knew no one but my husband and his family. It only took me a couple months to find a good job, but then I was the sole employee of a small nonprofit organization. My social life was virtually nonexistent for several months after I relocated to Interior Alaska. Thankfully, one of my nonprofit’s volunteers was a member of the Young Professionals Council and invited me to check it out.

YPC is a project of Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit dedicated to creating jobs and economic opportunities in the Interior. The council accomplishes its mission of empowering young leaders through community involvement, professional development and networking opportunities.

You’ll find that YPC is a welcoming and inclusive group of young adults (no particular age limit) who are interested in making Fairbanks a more vibrant and attractive place. Monthly meetings are held every third Thursday and feature guest speakers (often young professionals themselves) whose presentations cover a wide variety of topics. Past presentations have included: estate planning, personal finance, government relations, recycling in Fairbanks, personality-based skill building and generational management styles.

Within a few months of learning about YPC, I’d attended some meetings, enjoyed a meet-and-greet at the UAF chancellor’s home and climbed the outdoor ice wall at the university with other YPC members. For me, YPC proved to be a great way to connect with peers and develop my social and professional networks. Little did I know that within three years, I would be working for FEDC and serving as the council’s director! As a matter of fact, it was only because I was a YPC member that I heard about my current job opportunity.

If you’re interested in contributing to the betterment of Interior Alaska, participating in community service activities or simply connecting with other young adults and making new friends, consider joining the Young Professionals Council. Benefits include a listing in the YPC Membership Directory, a spotlight on YPC’s Facebook page and discounts to special events such as our second half-day professional development conference to be held later this year.

YPC’s e-mail distribution list has grown to over 120 young professionals with 25 paid members meeting to discuss and act on issues relevant to local young people. Ideally, we’d like to see everyone participating in YPC become a dues-paying member ($25 per year), but participants are not required to pay dues.

Young people join YPC because we have fun together while discussing important issues, networking and developing professionally. Additionally, YPC offers opportunities for young adults to volunteer in the community and gain leadership experience by helping to plan events. For example, Connect 49 is a popular local networking event that was created by YPC members. Held once a month except during the summer, Connect 49 allows young professionals to practice networking with other Fairbanksans in government, private business, and the nonprofit sector.

One YPC member shared that she formed a mentoring relationship with a more experienced professional at a past Connect 49 and now meets her mentor once a month for lunch. Testimonials like this have encouraged YPC to begin developing a Young Professionals Mentoring program. It will be a 9-month program designed to engage and empower young professionals, and will allow more wizened professionals to offer their years of experience to our community’s future leaders.

The mentoring program aims to cultivate leadership skills within young professionals to propel growth in their careers and finances, as well as personal and leadership development. Experienced professionals will help those being mentored to navigate their daily responsibilities and bestow years of knowledge and experience in other aspects of personal development. A mentor is someone who can act as a source of insight but also just listen without judgment.

The cost to receive mentoring in this program will be $50 for Young Professionals Council members or $100 for non-members. There will be no charge for mentors to participate. Experienced professionals will soon be able to sign up as mentors on FEDC’s website, and applications for the 2017/2018 YPM cohort will be accepted from July 31 — Sept. 1.

FEDC invites you, whether you grew up here or just moved here, to attend an upcoming YPC event and meet young professionals in the community who are working hard to be the next generation of Alaska’s leaders. You never know — you might just find your next job, make a new friend or discover a new hobby. Please visit www.fairbanksypc.com or contact Becca at bbrado@investfairbanks.com or 452-2185 for additional information.

Becca Brado is a project manager for the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation.