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A Young Professional in Racine Offers His Take on Young Professionals of Racine

Justin Smith is a Patch contributor who wants to grow his skills and network with other young professionals. He is the Director of Public Relations for Rehab Management Solutions in Sturtevant.

Even if you have a great job that is challenging at a solid company, it is always a good idea to advance your professional skills and network locally with other professionals. That's why, in May 2011, seven months after I got my job, I joined Young Professionals of Racine (YPR).

I discovered YPR while researching different ways that my company could network more in the community. Finding the Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce Association (RAMAC) led me to YPR, an affiliated group for younger members. The goals and ideals of this group were aligned exactly with my own and I was immediately interested in joining.

According to its mission statement, YPR works to attract, engage, cultivate and retain professional talent to help the community flourish. They provide professional development and personal growth opportunities through a variety of networking, social, volunteer and educational events. All of these qualities appealed to me as a professional just beginning his career.

Additionally, having just moved to Wisconsin from Illinois for my new job, I was especially drawn to the ability to network with other local professionals and to begin to establish myself in the Racine community. In fact, it was because of networking with another YPR member that I discovered the opportunity to write for Patch, a chance I may have otherwise missed.

As I continued my membership with YPR, it became clear to me that not only did I want to be a member, I wanted to contribute as much to the group as possible. Attending events was great, but in order to get the most out of YPR as possible, it was time to step into more of a leadership role. Fortunately, I joined at an opportune time and there were several openings on its Board of Directors. I applied immediately.

Like I told Krystyna Sarrazin, the executive director of YPR, I wanted the Board to utilize my skills in a role it felt would best serve the interests of the group. At its July meeting, the Board voted me in as a member and recommended I consider taking over the position of Community Relations Director.

In this position, I will lead the planning of the yearly YPR service project or event and actively seek out opportunities for YPR volunteer options, among other duties. I plan to take over this position officially in August.

I’m immensely proud of the progress I’ve made and the connections I’ve established in my new community through YPR. I would highly encourage any young professional in a similar situation to consider joining YPR or a group like it. This was one big leap that I’m glad I took.

Best Tip From Young Professionals of Racine for Job Hunters

In fact, becoming a member of a local group is a great tool for job hunters to network and is not just for those who are already employed.

Krystyna Sarrazin recently told Patch that one of the best things anyone who is looking for a job can do is join an organization like YPR and regularly attend its functions.

"It's important to meet people, to make connections," she said. "Use everyone you know because someone who knows something could be the key to landing a new job or moving up in your career."

If there are vacancies on the boards of any community organizations, that can help boost a job hunter's profile, too.

"Being part of a board may not be a job, but it is about building skills you can add to a resume," Sarrazin added.

Further, Sara Luther Hagerman, board president, said recruiters, headhunters and temporary agencies are great ways to get your information out to a wider audience. Many temporary jobs often lead to permanent positions with growth potential.

Cassie Donahoe July 20, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Congratulations on your Board position Justin! I am sure we'll cross paths, I'm on the Board for the South Suburban Chamber of Commerce and spearheading their new young professionals initiative-I'm also an Oak Creek Patch blogger (http://oakcreek.patch.com/users/cassie-donahoe). YPR has a ton of exciting things going on!
Lauren Cuccio July 20, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Welcome to the board Justin! We are excited to have you join. I am also new to my board position as Communications Director. Look forward to working with you! Thank you for this great blog post.

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