by Marian Cooper
In the Spring of 2013, less than three months into my first paid nonprofit job, I heard about a professional organization for newbies to the nonprofit sector. I followed up and attended my first YNPN event at Sauced on Paseo on May 14, 2013. At this first networking happy hour, I met at least a dozen other contemporaries looking to connect with their peers. I learned that the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Oklahoma City (YNPN of OKC) is a locally cohort of emerging nonprofit workers or those interested in breaking into the industry.
Fast forward two years, and I am now working for someone I met at my very first YNPN of OKC event. That chance meeting two years ago is not the only way YNPN of OKC helped me land this job; I seized opportunities to become more involved in YNPN of OKC. I answered the call for volunteers to serve on the Networking Committee in the Fall of 2014, and I also began serving on the Board of Directors in the Winter of 2014 / 2015. By working alongside YNPN of OKC’s talented board members and committee volunteers, I have been able to demonstrate my aptitudes, learn new skills and showcase my value to an ever-expanding network beyond my paid work. Throughout this job search, my fellow committee and board members have provided numerous job leads, introductions, and official and unofficial references.
Beyond the amazing network, contacts, and direct support I received from YNPN of OKC on this search for a job, I have been able to practice new skills and build confidence. I had never participated in building a budget for an organization before. This was also the organization’s first budget, as we are a new organization, freshly minted 501(c)3 with our first paid membership program. Through YNPN of OKC membership, I have been invited to both attend and present at local and national professional development functions (though I have been too chicken to present). Rarely a week goes by without some sort of professional or social interaction with a fellow YNPN member. We have formed a diverse network great for consulting, asking what we are afraid might be silly questions, commiserating, sharing small victories, and celebrating when we know YNPN of OKC has prepared us for a particularly challenging task in our work.
Ultimately, I found out about my new job from a fellow board member, and I have no doubt that YNPN of OKC committee and board service helped me and my resume stand out in a sea of similar candidates. I know I will continue to have fun, grow and learn through being involved in YNPN. Join me at one of our upcoming events: https://www.facebook.com/YNPNofOKC/events.