You might have seen Brazen’s upcoming networking event for young professional organizations. But maybe you’re unclear on what these organizations are about and how they can help you professionally.
To find out more, I talked to Molly Foley of Madison, Wisc.-based Next Generation Consulting. Molly shared details about what young professional organizations do and how they can help your professional development.
Jaclyn Schiff: In short, what does Next Generation Consulting do?
Molly Foley: We’re a small market research firm, founded in 1998 by Rebecca Ryan. Our purpose is to leave the world a better place for the next generation and our niche is in bridging generational gaps and helping cities and companies create cultures that attract, retain, and engage young, educated talent.
JS: That’s neat! What is one of the most interesting findings from your research on young professionals?
MF: In terms of the workforce, “life-work balance” has different meanings for everybody and older generations need to better understand younger workers’ definition of “l/w-b” is more defined as having flexibility in how, when, and where they get their work done. It is less defined as the number of hours they want to work, which is what older workers tend to assume.
JS: So what exactly is a young professional organization (YP Org)?
MF: YP Orgs are organizations in communities that target the “under 40” demographic and typically offer a customized, locally relevant blend of offerings, such as: social activities, civic projects, philanthropic efforts, political advocacy, volunteerism, and professional development.
YP Orgs play a key role in attracting and retaining a city’s younger workforce. As “brain drain” becomes a critical issue in communities across North America, YP Orgs help their communities engage and retain talent by giving them a dynamic forum of their peers, committed to making a difference in their communities. There is no “recipe” for a YP Org. Each city is different and YPs have broad interests and passions.
Molly Foley of Next Generation Consulting
JS: Okay, sounds interesting. How do you find YP Orgs near you?
MF: The best way to find local YP Orgs is to ask your peers or do a simple Google search for the name of your city and “young professional.” Many communities have more than one kind of YP Org with different focuses. You can also check with your local Chamber of Commerce as many are affiliated with Chambers.
Next Generation Consulting also offers an online directory of more than 300 YP Orgs throughout North America. Click here to see if your state/city is listed. If you don’t see a listing but are aware of a YP Org in your community encourage them to post their information.
JS: There are so many things to get involved with outside of work. What are some of the benefits of joining these groups?
MF: Young professionals should take advantage of these groups in their communities for a few reasons: 1. Many offer great community engagement and development opportunities; 2. Networking options – developing strong relationships early on in ones career can help catapult success; and 3. We need stronger YP voices in our cities and YP organizations can help foster this advocacy.
JS: Do you have a favorite YP Org?
MF: Well, I have to be a little biased to the organization I helped develop, The Network, in the Quad Cities region (Iowa/Illinois). FUEL Milwaukee is another favorite group of mine because they really paved the way for this YP “movement” in many ways. FUEL was very lucky to gain community and business support early on, something many YP Orgs struggle with year after year.
JS: I hear that there’s a good opportunity for those who are already involved with YP Orgs. What’s the deal with that?
MF: The Next Leaders initiative was started to bring together leaders of the “YP movement”. Those emerging leaders and change agents who are passionate about building better places to live and work for the next generation. The primary goal of Next Leaders is to outfit YP organizations with the resources and tools they need to grow and engage their local young professionals.