Enter the Young Professionals of Central Virginia

Most jobs are secured through a relationship of one kind or another. Someone shares that his or her employer has an opening; another contact may slip in a quick recommendation to a supervisor. Each of these connections can go a long way in propelling a career forward. But what happens when one’s personal network is lacking, and there’s a real possibility of missing valuable professional opportunities? Enter the Young Professionals of Central Virginia (YPCV).

A group designed to connect young professionals with each other and various development opportunities, YPCV’s mission is “dedicated to cultivating a young, vibrant, professional community.” Such a mission comes at a good time for Lynchburg, where the young professional, or “millennial,” population has grown by 13% since 2012 according to the Lynchburg Office of Economic Development (LOED). In fact, this rate of growth is partly why Lynchburg’s millennial population is “45% larger than the U.S. average,” says Anna Bentson, Assistant Director of the LOED. And with a median age of 28.6, young professionals are a critical population to attract and retain for the City’s long-term success.

Retention largely revolves around connection and investment, both primary goals of the YPCV.

Jamie Glass, YPCV Coordinator from the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance (LRBA), explains this significance, saying “people are two to three times more likely to stay in a community where they make connections.”

Zach Martin, who has been involved with YPCV since 2014, felt motivated to step up as President this past January because he enjoys “connecting people and loves this community,” adding, “this organization is dedicated to attracting and retaining talented individuals in this community.”

To that end, YPCV has seen a resurgence of activity and focused growth in the last year, leading to additional events, offerings, and opportunities for those involved and all with the purpose of promoting lasting and meaningful connections.

Martin says, “We are primarily focused on expanding professional development offerings while connecting our highly talented members to CEOs, hiring managers and entrepreneurs across the community.”

To accomplish this, YPCV is offering events such as “Lessons from Leaders,” an option for young professionals to hear advice and stories of failure and success directly from senior leadership and executives. YPCV is also orchestrating quarterly lunches that pair one local C-level executive with a group of 10 young professionals. Their goal is to expand personal networks while giving executives a platform to share “lessons learned, best practices and [advice on] how to grow professionally,” Glass says.

“This generation loves learning and continuing to grow professionally,” Glass says. “They also value employers that invest in their continued growth. YPCV provides a local and cost effective opportunity for businesses to get their young professionals plugged in.”

Again, with a large millennial population, Glass says engaging “young talent” is “critical to our regional workforce and keeping [them] in the region.” And, such an approach “ties nicely with the [local] economic development goals to attract business and individuals to our region.”

Bentson echoes these sentiments, explaining that “young professionals are concerned with quality of place; [so] engaging this population creates a ‘sticky’ city and ensures long-term workforce success for Lynchburg’s employers.”

YPCV also organized a “Lessons from Entrepreneurs” panel in late June that featured local business startups such as Selective Wealth Management, Generation Solutions, and JETR Holdings. Plus, every third Thursday of the month the group hosts networking events at different restaurants and businesses around town right at 5:35 p.m.

Such events allow interpersonal relationships to develop while opening doors for potential business deals and opportunities. These are especially meaningful for small business owners who may not have many employees or coworkers to interact with. And entrepreneurs can benefit from the increased exposure to peers and more experienced businessmen and women.

Glass says, “There’s a huge benefit for the young professionals to be able to connect with businesses and individuals as it provides access to companies for sponsorship opportunities and also mentorship opportunities with our individual members.”

Additional YPCV benefits include proximity and familiarity with LRBA members because it currently operates as a LRBA partner; this status allows them access to LRBA staff such as Glass, who acts as their coordinator, plus “all Alliance resources such as newsletters, social media, website promotion for their events, and usage of event space at no cost.” Events are often held at the LRBA’s newly revamped space in the previous James River Conference Center on the corner of 5th and Church Streets, and their new website and other LRBA support allow them a platform for sustained growth that they hope to see continue into 2019.

The benefits of trying out YPCV are diverse according to Glass, who says, “Being a part of an organization like YPCV can grow your network, develop leadership skills, build your resume, find friends and connect you to the community where you live and work.”

While the primary age range of those involved with YPCV is 20 to 40 years old, all ages are welcome; membership is free, as are the majority of events.

Martin says plans for the coming fall and spring of 2019 will bring “additional pop-up socials and networking events” designed for members who may be unavailable for “traditional YPCV events.”

More information can be found at their website: www.ypcv.org.

YPCV Fast Facts:
• No cost to join
• Monthly networking opportunities
• Upcoming events found at www.ypcv.org/events