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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 1 year ago

Winter Park chamber launches new group for millennials

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The chamber hopes its Young Professionals of Winter Park group will help develop younger, local leaders.
by: Troy Herring Sports Editor

Finding your place in the job world after finishing college can be daunting.

Before you can get out and lead, you have to build connections with the people around you, develop job skills and learn about your particular job environment.

If you’re one of those people currently residing in the Winter Park area, then there is some good news.

The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce is starting a new program, Young Professionals of Winter Park, to help those just starting to find their way into the local market.

“We’ve been working really hard to put this all together — we wanted to start before the end of the year, so we could give people a preview of what is to come,” said Katherine Keller, marketing and communications director for the chamber. “In January, we will be launching this as a separate membership that’s discounted for young professionals, because we want them to have the opportunity to join a professional organization without having to ask their company for the money or have to pay a huge amount for themselves when they are just getting started in their careers.”

Since January, there has been a change in staff at the chamber, which brought on multiple millennials who have played important roles in both marketing and decision-making, Keller said.

The idea came to Keller after an observation during a luncheon in May, when she realized something about her and the few other millennials who were in attendance.

“We noticed that about four or five of us in the room who were in our 20s — we all kind of drifted toward one another,” Keller said. “We got to talking about how the professional crowd at the chamber of commerce was really robust, but we kind of wanted to create this community for young professionals.”

With the idea developed, an executive committee of 13 representatives formed that same month with the goal to plan events and develop the program’s agenda.

So far, Young Professionals has four events planned for the remainder of the year — including a social launch party Aug. 17; Sip, Shop and Stroll Sept. 14; helping Second Harvest Food Bank Oct. 4; and a personal branding program Nov. 14.

Each event hits on the four pillars on which the group is based: social events, community engagement, service opportunities and professional development.

“We have these four pillars that we find are really important to developing as a young professional, and we have put them together and tied all of our events and programs to work specifically for one of those pillars.”

— Katherine Keller

“We have these four pillars that we find are really important to developing as a young professional, and we have put them together and tied all of our events and programs to work specifically for one of those pillars,” Keller said.

Although the group currently only has events planned for the rest of this year, Director of Events Ally Stricker said organizers hope to have three to four service opportunities and professional development workshops throughout 2018. Stricker also plans to incorporate numerous social and community engagement events next year.

Along with events, Keller and Stricker hope the perks of becoming a member of Young Professionals will help build both the group itself and its individual members. The assistance from the chamber will play a vital role in the success of Young Professionals, Stricker said.

“It has the full support of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce behind it,” Stricker said. “So it has those resources, those members, (and) the leadership — all of that support will be able to help make this program what we can only dream of.”

Troy Herring is the sports editor at the West Orange Times and Windermere Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Mount Olive (BS '12) and the University of Alabama (MA '16)....

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