hat exactly is a Young Professional Organization? Picture this: You are a young professional about to enter the working world. Youtube and LinkedIn are both good starts, but, frankly, you soon discover that they won’t get you all of the way there. For example, Youtube is good for how-to videos and stories of others’ career advancements, while LinkedIn is a way to meet other professionals through mutual connections.
But it’s not just about who you know or who you’ve seen speak in a TedTalk. After all, thousands upon thousands of people have what they think are “good” connections. Even more have likely viewed that TedTalk.
Success is often tied to the people you know personally, and even more so to the people who help and mentor you along the way. Young Professionals Groups, aka YP groups, are groups backed by organizations (hopefully credible) that host events with the intent of aiding in networking.
Though YP groups aren’t as exclusive as they might sound. Not every YP group has an age restriction, and they aren’t all solely for people in the beginning stages of their careers, either. For example, an older person looking to change careers might join a YP group as an intro into the world of their new profession.
Some of the events that you might participate in while attending a YP group include: networking/mixers/leadership opportunities/varying positions depending on where you want to end up after university.
Pros and Cons of Joining a Young Professional Organization
There are pros and cons to almost any career move. Take an internship as an example, not too far from a YP group. Only some internships offer monetary compensation, and while some offer meaningful work experience, others are more about “getting your boss a coffee,” than anything else. YP groups have pros and cons like any other career move, so it’s up to you to read into them and decide if joining one such group is worth it in your case.
Pros of Joining a YP Group
- You get the chance to meet new people, people with varying backgrounds, ideas, and career directions. Bouncing your ideas off of these people is a great way of polling how your career will go, as they can give you helpful feedback.
- Being part of a larger contribution. Putting your ideas and your skills to the test is always a good way to build up a resume. You can attach links and images of your work to your resume, as well.
- Having access to mentors. This one is huge. Mentors can point out all of the pitfalls of your career plan, and help you to avoid falling into any of the “typical” mistakes. They can also refer you to other people in the industry, thus cutting down barriers for you to pass through.
- Looks beautiful on a resume. Just like an internship, volunteer hours, or impressive past works, YP groups look great to employers because they demonstrate past interest and experience in a desired field.
- Finally, in a YP group, you have the opportunity to build off of other people’s ideas and get the chance to develop your own. Maybe you were about to make a horrible career move, but after bringing it up to your YP group and receiving feedback, you decided against it. This is not to say that YP groups are like homeowners associations, here to tell you that you’re doing everything wrong, and should be doing it the “right way.” Instead, they are simply a safe space where you can talk to others who might know more about topics in which you are interested.
Cons of Joining a YP Group
- Not necessarily a con, but YP groups are almost exclusively in-person. That means that you likely won’t be able to join a group in NYC or LA if you don’t live in those locations. Unlike internships, which have become increasingly online in recent years, YP groups are limited to the ones that are closest to you.
- YP groups aren’t generally elitist, but they do have requirements in order to enter. Some have regular payments that must be made, others might ask that you submit a few things in order to show your interest first. This isn’t typical, but what is is that most are intended for those who are over 18 yrs.
- You may be a part of one without even knowing it. Check with your employer, if they are a member, you may also likely be a member as well.
- It's a bit like being at the kids table, meaning that after a while, as you build your career, you begin to outgrow it, if other members are also inexperienced, that can be a problem (as there’s nothing to gain from an equally inexperienced person)
What They Offer/Activities of Young Professional Organization:
Young Professional groups aim to combine vocational and social events through their many networking and “elbow-rubbing” opportunities. While the type of events you attend may vary depending on the career you are pursuing, a few general events that you can expect are:
- Networking Events
- Resume Seminars
- Opportunities within the Organization
Young Professional Organizations to Join:
- Vary based on your location
- Simply search “young professional groups near me,” to yield searches
- Ideally should be close so that you can interact face to face
- New York Urban League
Various Events in NY
Young NonProfit Professionals Network:
- ACG Los Angeles (for corporate growth)
Young Professional Events in LA:
- Boston YP https://www.linkedin.com/company/bostonypa#:~:text=BostonYPA%20provides%20social%2C%20networking%20and,the%20Young%20Professional%20in%20Boston.
- Young Professionals of Minneapolis
How to use the website to find a YP Organization Near You
It’s hard to direct a person towards a YP Organization, as the ones that “should be on your radar” depend very heavily on where you are located. So, I’ve discovered a website that can find YP Organizations near you, and have compiled here a few tips on how to use it to your career’s advantage:
Website of Choice: Facebook or Yelp
In the case of Facebook
- Log in
- Search for “Young Professional Groups” near you
- Pursue various offerings until you find one that’s interesting
- Double check online to ensure that it has a presence outside of Facebook (to be sure, many different hobby or career groups that get their start on Facebook also find an early end, as their members realize that they have other commitments. It’s simply too easy to say no to a commitment you’ve made if you made it via a social media platform and not in person).
- Confirm that it is legit.
- Message the recruiting manager.
How to find the Right Young Professional Organization for you
It’s a Good YP if…
- Its focus is something that you like and want a career in. NOTE: If it’s just something you like, but don’t necessarily want a career in, it’s probably best you don’t join a YP group. It’s one thing to hedge your bets and join a YP just in case you switch careers later in life, but it’s another thing to join a YP group for a hobby when you could’ve joined a smaller commitment club instead.
- Something with like minded people with diverse backgrounds. If you show up and everyone has the same experiences, and comes from the same background–that might be a red flag that you’ve either stumbled upon something elitist and small minded, or that the group has been stagnating for a while. No difference in members means no new experiences means very little to learn.
- The club is legitimate. It should be for a reputable company, and have a significant amount of members as well as an online presence. No HR department, no LinkedIn presence, and no alumni reviews to speak of are all signs that this YP group is either too small or illegitimate.
- Older members should be present to show you the ropes. Mentorship is approx. ninety percent of the benefit of joining a YP group. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great thing to be able to speak to others your age about your developing career, but you should also have a mentor to balance out this influence. Mentors can correct you when you’re wrong or have a misconception about something. Mentors can also break down barriers for you and introduce you to the right kind of people…Someone who is on your same level mentality and career wise cannot (and maybe will not) do that for you.
In Conclusion, Young Professional Organizations are Worth it if You’re looking to Network with Peers
Networking comes with benefits, and while platforms like LinkedIn provide a way to link up with people across the globe who share your career interests, it doesn’t necessarily have the same potential for collaboration as meeting face to face does. That’s where Young Professional Organizations come in. They give you face-to-face time with people who are already established, as well as peers, hosting events and workshops to prepare you for the realities of your career. A good YP organization will have older as well as younger members, a diverse cast of people, and few entry requirements. As always, the old phrase “let the buyer beware,” holds up here. If a YP Organization asks you to pay copious fees, doesn’t have any alumni testimonials, or doesn’t seem to DO anything, don’t buy into it. As shown in this article, there are just too many good organizations to even bother with the mediocre/bad ones.