When I moved back to Springfield in my early 20s I had no idea what it meant to be a young professional.
I was a recent college graduate who simply wanted to find a job and begin to build a career. Little did I know at that time I would have an opportunity to do just that right here in Springfield. I soon accepted a marketing position with Ohio Edison and began to go to work every day in a very different world that was for the most part full of people who were much older and more experienced than me. Fortunately, I was very blessed to have found a company that was not only great to work for, but was also full of incredibly talented people that were willing to help me grow into the leader that I am today.
I have learned from my experience that it is up to each of us to help grow the future leaders that will continue to help move Greater Springfield forward. Our community’s future success depends not only on strong leadership today – but on strong leadership tomorrow. That is the driver behind the Greater Springfield Young Professionals – a network of young professionals formed by four chamber members: Zach and Travis Holder of R. D. Holder Oil Co. and Eric Powell and Andrew Barlow of Baker Krizner Financial Planning.
The group, which was formed in early 2013, started out with about 10 members. Today it has expanded to more than 50.
Powell, a lifelong resident of Springfield, said he saw the need to establish such a network “because there wasn’t a group to connect young professionals.”
The need became even more apparent when the four would see each other at various business networking events. When we would attend chamber events, we noticed that there were very few people our age in the room,” Zach Holder said. “We wanted to find a way to encourage people of our generation to get involved – to really become active.”
The group meets the second Thursday of every month, alternating between lunches and socials held at various venues that introduce the group to opportunities in the community.
“There are plenty of young professionals looking to make an impact,” Holder said. “It is our responsibility to take that opportunity to lead.”
Area businesses have a lot to gain from GSYP’s success, Powell said. “Our community as a whole, and business leaders included, should embrace this opportunity of a young professionals group because this is a way to attract and retain young professionals,” Powell said. “This is a way for future leaders of our community to build a solid foundation and make a positive impact on our community now as well as in the future.”
Sarah V. Michelson, office administrator for the Springfield Arts Council and new Springfield resident, joined the group with personal and professional goals in mind.
In addition to helping her become more acclimated to Springfield, she hopes her involvement will help introduce her generation to opportunities within Springfield’s arts community – both as attendees and as leaders. “It’s important to broaden the audiences of those established institutions we have in our community,” she said. “I wanted to be involved to network and meet other young professionals and other businesses that might partner with the arts.”
Active engagement in local businesses and the community is an important driver for GSYP, Holder said. “The community as a whole needs our generation to be prepped and ready to take leadership roles to make sure Springfield is the best place it can be to work and live,” he said. The immediate goal is to grow. And while “professional” is in its title, Holder does not want that to scare away potential members. “We want as many people as possible to attend – people who want to be active in the community and possible future leaders in our community.”
If you are a CEO of a company or organization with young professionals on your team, the Greater Springfield community needs you to encourage them to get involved. If you are a young professional working in this region, we want to encourage you to speak to the leadership in your organization about getting involved. This important investment of the company and the young professionals who participate will reap benefits not only for the future success of the company or organization, but also for the future success of our great community!
Have a Great Chamber Day!