I am a lifelong Oklahoman – a fifth generation one to be exact. In 2014, I moved away from the nest for the first time after I finished OU’s MPA program to spend two years in Arkansas as an education policy analyst. During my time in Arkansas, I searched for community and connection culturally, professionally, and demographically by age. The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) was one of the places where I found that professional connection among my peers in the nonprofit sphere. That year, the Little Rock chapter hosted the national YNPN convention. The conference was an AMAZING chance to meet professionals from across the country, attend relevant workshops that strengthened my knowledge base, and meet the leaders responsible for furthering YNPN’s mission of building a diverse and powerful social sector. I bought into the values of YNPN and served on the Little Rock board for one year.
In 2016, I transitioned back to Oklahoma. I knew that I would miss my YNPN of Little Rock family. But the Oklahoma City chapter embraced me and grew the love that I already had for this organization based on my Little Rock experience. The OKC chapter is one of the largest in the country with close to 200 paid members and it specializes in building a space where rising public sector leaders can learn, grow, and connect with one another. Based on my experience over the past two years, here are reasons NOT to join YNPN of OKC:
If you don’t want to expand your network, build genuine relationships, and connect with other public sector professionals
YNPN of OKC hosts events that accommodate any schedule – with Coffee and Conversations for the early birds, member-led Meet Ups for those who have fun ideas for connecting with others, and happy hours at various locations around OKC after work. Each happy hour that I’ve attended happened at a place that I had never visited before. So it gave me the chance to #supportlocal while catching up with friends / meeting new people. Last year, the chapter even hosted a member appreciation event at the Wheeler District. Each member received a drink ticket for a free drink, there were drawings for cool prizes, the food was good and the games were enjoyable. So if you don’t like having a good time, then YNPN isn’t the organization for you.
If you don’t want to grow professionally and experience fun volunteer opportunities
By nature of our industries, there are many ways for members to give their time towards fulfilling organizations and there are plenty of workshops to help build your skills. From grant writing to landing a nonprofit job to diversity and inclusion to self-defense training, YNPN of OKC brings a wide range of topics to help develop members. I attended the workshop on nonprofit certification options like becoming a Certified Grant Writer, Certified Nonprofit Professional or Certified Fund Raising Executive. I didn’t know that many of these certifications existed and I have an aspiration to someday become an executive director of a nonprofit. So I am eager to learn the benefits of various certifications and the requirements to obtain one in case there’s one that would fit my future career goals. Beyond YNPN of OKC, there’s a national network you can tap into for conferences across the country, trainings (that you can attend or even lead yourself!), and connecting to other professionals nationally. If you DON’T like attending or leading trainings that expand your skills and give you opportunities to develop or serve, then don’t join YNPN.
If you don’t like opportunities to be involved or share your ideas
YNPN has a “bottom, up” approach to leadership – meaning, that the national organization gives local chapters the autonomy to run programming in a way that best suits their need. That spirit filters down to the chapter level where members can serve on committees like professional development, outreach, and networking. Those committees help in creating fun and engaging events or meet ups based on their expertise or the expertise of the community. My passion and expertise is in advocacy and public policy. Earlier this year, I approached the professional development committee about leading a Coffee and Conversation session on “Making the Most out of Your Visit to the Oklahoma State Capitol.” They not only enthusiastically accepted my idea, they helped me with advertising and logistics so that we could reach as many interested members as possible. So, if you don’t like to be plugged into a space where your good ideas can be implemented into something beneficial, then this isn’t the organization for you.
In a nutshell:
The $25 annual cost is worth the membership because of the value YNPN brings to our city and to the sector. (The cool discounts alone make the membership worthwhile). I have been a part of numerous Young Professionals organizations in OKC and beyond. YNPN of OKC is one of the best because it is well organized, there’s a place for everyone of any profession to engage, and the events are high quality. It’s the reason why over 200 public sector young professionals have joined this organization. If well-organized, fun, and fulfilling are components you need, then this is an organization for you! Next week, I will renew my membership and I’m ecstatic to do so. I hope that you too will join us. A membership into YNPN is an investment into your social, personal, and professional growth.