By Elicia Pinsonault
Rutland Young Professionals celebrated its seventh birthday this year. Throughout the past seven years, our energetic group of volunteers has worked tirelessly to create a vibrant Rutland area that attracts and retains young professionals.
Chances are you’ve heard of us by now. But you may not understand who we are, what our purpose is, and why we do what we do. We hope that through these new monthly columns, you’ll learn more about us, what we’re accomplishing, and get to know our members.
Rutland Young Professionals is an all-volunteer organization. Our mission is to engage with our community, create social and professional networking opportunities, and work to build a Rutland area that attracts and retains young professionals.
Unlike many other nonprofits, we do not have any paid staff members. We rely heavily on our 11-person board and dozens of other committed volunteers to keep us going and to carry out our mission. Our board members and volunteers come from diverse backgrounds. We are Vermonters – either by birth or by choice. We are young – all under the age of 45, but youth is a state of mind, right? And we are professionals – lawyers, business development managers, communications professionals, healthcare workers, business owners and leaders, realtors. We’re also restaurant servers, retail associates, and yes – some of us are even unemployed and looking for our next career opportunity. We take so much pride in being all-inclusive. You’ll learn more about us, and why we chose to live, work, learn, and play in the greater Rutland Region, in future columns.
Rutland Young Professionals was one of the first young professionals groups in Vermont, but several more have emerged across the state in recent years. There’s no denying the critical need for support of this demographic group.
According to the Vermont Futures Project, Vermont continued to lose population in 2019. Last year, we saw 400 fewer residents than the year before, and 1,800 fewer than in 2010. We’re currently seeing an uptick from people of all ages seeking a safe sanctuary from the Coronavirus pandemic, but it’s not enough to reverse the years of population decline we’ve faced. A growing percentage of current Vermonters are now over the age of 50. We want to change that trajectory. Rutland Young Professionals’ programs and initiatives promote our region to young professionals near and far – ones who will grow or bring their businesses, start their careers, and raise a family here. This is important not only to Rutland County, but to our state as a whole.
Research suggests that one of the most significant factors that influences where someone decides to take root is the social factor. That’s why we’ve continued to engage our community in social and professional networking opportunities through in-person and virtual mixes and casual meet-ups. It’s why we participate in the Red Carpet Concierge through the Real Rutland regional marketing initiative.
We know that local employers often struggle to recruit high-quality talent. That’s why we offer our Let’s Dish program and serve as a welcoming committee for people who are considering making Rutland County their home.
We know that one of the greatest barriers to career advancement for young professionals is a lack of professional development opportunities. That’s why we’ve offered series, summits, and our professional development grant.
For the past seven years, our focus has been to find creative ways to connect people, jobs, volunteer and mentorship opportunities, professional development, and fun. This is important work, and we know it’s had an impact on our community.
We look forward to sharing more about Rutland Young Professionals and our members with you in the coming months. To learn more about RYP and how you can get involved, visit rutlandyoungprofessionals.org, find us on Facebook or Instagram, or email [email protected]
Elicia Pinsonault is president-elect of Rutland Young Professionals and chair of the organization’s marketing committee. She works as communications coordinator at Castleton University.