GTPulse: Traverse City Young Professionals Connect At Home

“When I first joined, I just showed up. No one is turning you away at the door, and that’s how we always want it to be. We want to create a welcoming environment for anyone young in this region.”

Connor Miller is the Program Chair for Traverse City Young Professionals, an organization through Traverse Connect that encourages workforce in the Grand Traverse area to connect with one another, learn valuable workplace skills and give back to the community.

“At the most basic level, we have three tenets. We try to connect, serve, and grow young professionals in the Traverse area. We have quarterly socials, obviously during normal times, and we have a number of different committees. Our volunteer committee normally would do a State Theatre shift once a month as well as an additional volunteer opportunity once a month. We also try to do something fun to bring the group to. We had a chili cookoff in January, we’ve done tree planting with the conservation district, we’ve done Safe Harbor meals. We do all kinds of stuff like that.”

You don’t actually have to be “young” to join TYCP, anyone who works in the region is encouraged to join. 

“You just gotta be young and show up!”

Whether you’ve been working in the area for a while or have recently moved here for a job, community engagement is great for mental health and TYCP is always coming up with ways to enhance the work and social lives of its members. Part of the way they help members is by helping them not only connect and make new friends but to also grow as individuals in the workforce. They participate in an annual professional development conference in October where speakers are brought in to talk about topics that are directly impacting them. With all the changes happening in the workplace, I wonder what this year’s topics will cover.

TYCP is going to have a virtual summer this year, a decision made in the early stages of the Stay Home order. 

“We did, very quickly after the state of emergency was announced, cancel all of our in-person events for the safety of young professionals and the safety of the greater Traverse City community. We resumed virtual programming in April with virtual happy hours which we’re doing bi-weekly. There’s not really an agenda, it’s just a nice way to stay connected. We’re checking in with each other. We’re doing those until there is no longer a need for it.”

They’ve also transitioned their Morning Brew sessions to a virtual format. The monthly event typically goes on in the morning at the Traverse Connect Building. A speaker comes in to talk about community or professional topics.

“We’re bringing in speakers to highlight programs that have really been success stories or have pivoted during these difficult times. For May we brought in Up North Pride, they had pivoted to doing virtual programming so this was an opportunity to promote their programming and offer our young professionals a chance to get involved.”

Young professionals that have transitioned to working from home in response to the pandemic have had a generally positive experience in the workplace change. Large companies like Facebook and Twitter will be taking steps to give many employees a permanent work from home option, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see other workplaces doing the same.

“We’ve had a really good conversation at one of the virtual happy hours regarding this and it was kind of a push and pull and I think that’s an extrovert/introvert thing. But, in general terms, we found from our conversations that most young professionals who currently are able to work from home seem to like it in a general sense.”

TYCP members have summer calendars filled with activities that are both fun and community-oriented. Although there won’t be any in-person activities for the summer, Connor hopes that young professionals in the area will still consider getting involved in current times and that the fall will bring an environment where TYCP is comfortable meeting in person again.

“When I came to Traverse City I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know anything about the area, so this was how I met peers. That’s the environment that I try to create; a place where people can connect with peers.”

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Categories: GTPulse