By Steve Peters
Hey there. We’re the Rutland Young Professionals and we’re excited to start this brand new column to share with the community who we are and what we do.
Perhaps you’ve heard of us but don’t quite understand the purpose of a young professionals organization. That’s why we wanted to start by taking the time to tell you a little about ourselves. In future columns we plan to share stories from our volunteers and members while updating you a bit more on what we’re accomplishing.
Young professional organizations are not a new concept. Yet, in Vermont and Rutland County, there is a renewed need for their presence. According to the Vermont Future’s Project, Vermont’s population growth is on the decline while a growing percentage of current Vermonters are now over the age of 50. This means fewer people in Vermont are here to start careers, businesses and families. And that’s not good for the growth and future of our state.
Rutland Young Professionals is working to change that trajectory. In fact, our mission states exactly that. We aim to attract and retain young professionals to the greater Rutland area and that’s what we’ve been doing for the past five years. We’re a nonprofit organization with several programs and goals that guide our efforts.
Sometimes people think we’re a group offering volunteer services to the community, yet you may be surprised to hear that we all are quite busy volunteering our time just to keeping RYP up and running!
Everyone involved with the organization donates their time and energy to do everything from keeping membership records and managing our finances to executing the details of our events to writing and designing our marketing strategy. Unlike many other nonprofits, we currently do not have any paid staff members.
Instead, we have 11 board members and a growing team of volunteers who have regular meetings to organize and carry out our mission. As you’ll learn in upcoming columns, these folks come from varied backgrounds and work in a wide range of fields. Although the term “professionals” may sound like it applies to an exclusive group, if you’re being paid for what you do, whether you work on a farm, serve in a restaurant or own your own business, guess what? You’re a professional.
So what does RYP actually do? For starters, you’ve likely heard about our monthly mixer, the Mix. For several years we’ve organized these events at locations throughout the greater community. They’re casual, low-pressure opportunities to socialize with new and old friends, as well as a time to network and learn about potential job opportunities, available housing, volunteer needs and much more. They’re free events that anyone who is looking to communicate with young professionals is welcome to attend, regardless of age, profession, or place in their career or schooling.
While some like to argue that these are just social get-together, a strong social network is actually one of the most significant factors that influences where someone may decide to live. We’re proud to say that our Mixes regularly have more than 40 attendees — sometimes more than 100 — and also serve as a chance for us to help highlight area businesses, organizations and community members.
In the coming months, we’ll tell you a bit more about the many other initiatives RYP organizes, including Let’s Dish, a program for young pros considering moving to the area, our continuing education grant opportunity, our statewide summit, our meetups and more.