Northeast Ohio can be more than just a place where you work, play and raise a family. It can be a place where new friendships are made, you become involved in meaningful causes, and develop into a well-rounded member of the community.
Ask any leader in the business community and they will tell you that a thriving young professional population is essential to the continued success of a region. Cities across the country are looking for ways to attract young professionals, while retaining those that are already present. Add the benefits of meeting and collaborating with like-minded young people to the willingness of established businesses, non-profits and special interest groups to engage young professional and opportunities abound.
Northeast Ohio has a thriving young professional community and there are several ways to get involved in young professional groups in Northeast Ohio depending on your interests. Umbrella organizations like Engage! Cleveland, the Greater Akron Young Professionals Network and the Mahoning Valley Young Professionals have teamed up with the local chambers of commerce to incorporate young professionals into the broader community. They offer a great starting point to find out more about what opportunities exist. Essentially, there are three types of young professional organizations: Internal Corporate, Associate/Junior Boards and Special Interest.
1. Larger corporations often have internal organizations for young people which they use as a vehicle to add value to their newer employees and make a difference in the community.
For example “PNC Recognizing Emerging Professionals” or PREP has over 380 internal members and helps young professionals within the bank develop both personally and professionally. When researching careers in the region, this is definitely something to consider when choosing an employer.
2. Non-profits look to fill associate or junior boards with young professionals to serve as brand ambassadors and learn the ins and outs of an organization.
This enables participants to serve on boards in greater capacities in the future. While young professional can’t often contribute thousands of dollars to an organization, they can inject passion and a variety of skills that a non-profit sorely lacks. Towards Employment, a non-profit that helps individuals with criminal records achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment has a Young Professional Associate Board that supports the organization in a number of ways. There are a number of other non-profits with similar boards, so pick your favorite cause and see if you can get involved.
3. There is a wide variety of special interest groups that specifically cater to young professionals.
This catch-all grouping includes ethnic groups, industry associations, social causes and other special interest organizations. For instance the popular Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club helps to connect young leaders through a variety of social events; the Cleveland Young Professional Senate is dedicated to the advancement and inclusion of young professionals in civic decision making; and the Young Latino Network empowers the Latino community through leadership development and civic engagement. There are dozens of other groups out there that may fit your needs or interests.
In addition to these groups, there are several leadership development opportunities for young professionals to build their skill sets and interact with like-minded young people. They can fall into any of the above categories but are really different because they often have definitive start and end dates. Examples include the Cleveland Bridge Builders, Downtown Akron Partnership, Downtown Cleveland Alliance City Advocates Program, New Leaders Council and more.
When you participate in one or two of these groups, your life in Northeast Ohio is truly enriched. Ashley Basile Oeken, Executive Director of Engage! Cleveland and transplant to the region, told me as a young professional from another city these organizations help you get acclimated to a city and give you that sense of home. If you grew up in Northeast Ohio, then these organizations can add meaning and give your life here a sense of purpose. Northeast Ohio can be more than just a place where you work, play and raise a family. It can be a place where new friendships are made, you become involved in meaningful causes, and develop into a well-rounded member of the community.