I would be lying if I told you that being in your early to mid twenties was an easy time of your life. I am not sure how many of you around my same age would agree with me; but I would be willing to bet it is a fair number. Graduating from college and adjusting to a life of career, routine, and responsibility has its fair share of challenges. It’s also important to note that this season of life also has the opportunity for SO much joy!
The first year following my graduating from college was very trying for me. Moving back to my hometown and trying to adjust to a difficult first job with extremely long hours made me worn out and tired. I struggled being away from all of my close friends and support network that carried me through college and made my years at NDSU so wonderful. After leaving my initial post-college job and forging into a new career path about a year after graduation I started to feel things click…
Getting used to a job with a more “normal” schedule of just weekday commitments and working during the day (hallelujah! Those of you that work at night like I did for about 9 months deserve MUCH credit from others. The wear and tear on your body is incredible.) was a positive transition for me and I found myself jumping at the chance to break out of the shell I had been in since being back in Grand Forks and find things that I loved to do. I had begun to attend graduate school the spring following my graduation so I was working through that addition to my life and was excited to be back in school and continuing to challenge myself academically. (As of the this week and the completion of my summer semester course I am HALFWAY DONE with my graduate degree!! So exciting and can’t wait to graduate with my MBA less than 2 years from now). Professionally things for me were starting to feel good but on the personal side I was longing for connections with friends and community that I didn’t have at that time.
One place where I was struggling the most was meeting friends my age and getting to know people who had similar interests to me outside of work. I tried meeting people through workout classes and other avenues but it wasn’t very easy. I was starting to make some friends in my MBA classes but I decided I needed to look beyond that to find a core group of people who were passionate about the same things as me and were a blast to be around. I didn’t know if it would be possible, but in July of 2016 the opportunity with all of this (and more) fell right in my lap.
It was a Wednesday morning and I was attending One Million Cups, a networking and idea-sharing presentation that runs on coffee and conversation with others. The speakers that day were the current President and Executive Director of Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals (GGFYP). They were sharing about the impact that their group had on Grand Forks and the surrounding area and how valuable something like this was for a community. I was sitting in my seat at the Empire and the lightbulb totally went off….This was exactly what I needed to get involved with in order to find my groove and get to know others in my age group.
I filled out my application and membership form online that night and then began to receive the weekly YP emails. I got up the courage and went to my first committee meeting that summer and walked into a room full of people I didn’t know. I am excited to say that one year later some of the people in that room are some of my dearest friends who I love spending time with. I quickly learned that the committee I joined aligned very closely with my interests. They were tasked with connecting the YP membership with the community through partnerships and volunteering. Over the first few months of my membership I jumped in with both feet and became as involved as I could. I met so many wonderful people through the social events, volunteer projects, and professional development opportunities that were provided to us.
In late 2016, the current chair of the committee I served on approached me and let me know that she would be running for the Vice President opening on the board. She told me that this would make her seat vacant and up for re-election to fill the 2nd year of her term. She encouraged me to apply and said I would be a great fit for the role. I took some time to think and decided it would be an amazing opportunity for me to grow in my leadership skills and so I went for it. My application was selected and in January I became a part of the GGFYP Board of Directors for 2017.
It’s hard to put in to words what these last 8 months have looked like for me in terms of growth and joy. I have been positively pushed and challenged as I managed a committee and our monthly meetings, planned events, set up volunteering opportunities, attended board meetings, participated in strategic planning, and so much more. I am so grateful for the Executive Director and all of my fellow board members who have made this experience so valuable.
As summer begins to wrap up my team is full speed ahead planning our wonderful end of the year charity gala. I know how quickly time seems to fly and I know that the same will happen with these next 4 months. I will always be happy I decided to go to One Million Cups that morning in 2016 because it provided me with just what I was looking for. For my YP friends who are reading this post: my heartfelt thank you to you for being a friend. I have so enjoyed getting to know each of you and look forward to many years of laughs, challenges, events, and memories with you to come!
Those of you from Grand Forks reading this post; if you are interested in learning more about YP please contact me!! I would love to meet with you over coffee/lunch/drinks/dinner to share more and help you get involved. Those of you not from Grand Forks: I know that there are many Young Professionals chapters across the country. I encourage you to look for one in your area if you are interested in growing professionally and personally while making wonderful friends and giving back to the community that you live and work in.
Thanks to all of you for reading! Cheers to a wonderful week ahead 🙂