Why You Should Join a YPO

Why You Should Join a YPO

Written by: Sarah Gray

Continuing with our professional development theme for October, we are featuring guest blogger Sarah Gray, President of The Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club. Sarah will be additionally be covering this topic at our YP Workshop on Saturday, October 2. Registration closes Wednesday at 11:00am.

Let’s face it … as young professionals we’re kind of fickle. You know what I’m talking about. We might change our plans when a friend randomly texts and says ‘hey come meet up for a drink.’ Other times we are nose deep in trying to advance our careers and sometimes skip scheduled events in favor of staying late in the office to finish up that one last project. We don’t always want to commit to formally joining something, let alone joining a Young Professional Organization (YPO). We want options! Flexibility! A broad canvas to paint our own path on! Well you can have your cake and eat it too. Keep reading.

All In - Sarah

There are 100+ reasons why you should consider formally joining a YPO. Think about it: it’s a young professional organization. Membership is organized around the theme of being young, motivated to advance professionally, and other like minded attributes. These are great qualities to have in common with people!  The benefit list is endless:

  • Professional development
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Networking
  • Political impact
  • Fulfillment outside of work
  • Friendships / meeting new people
  • Exploring the city

So why did I initially join a YPO you ask? I broke up with my boyfriend and needed a new project. #bestdecisionever Let’s back up. My route to joining a YPO was certainly non-traditional to say the least. After graduating I started my career in Cleveland and spent time with friends hanging out in the city. I went to YP events once in awhile but never really considered joining anything formally. About five or six years into my career my company started its own YPO [with the help of Engage! Cleveland] and I was craving professional development to continue climbing the corporate ladder. I decided to get involved and joined the group’s Community Committee where I became the liaison with The Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club. I started going to 20/30 events, I dug further into my career and was promoted twice, met a cool new guy I was crazy about, and I thought I had my entire YP life figured out. Until I realized I was MISERABLE, obsessed and overwhelmed with work, and totally dating the wrong person.   Enter sweeping life changes, the break-up (ugh was my mother disappointed I would not be giving her grandchildren anytime soon), and a fresh slate where I could focus on something for me, something I loved - being involved in the community. I formally joined The 20/30 Club’s Board and never looked back.

This is CLE Over the next two years I learned more than I ever could have imagined. Joining the Board of a YPO allowed me to develop my skills, forge my own path, and also impact others in positive ways.

  • Learning to run a board is like running a business. I had opportunity to hone my leadership and project management skills, while learning from each member of my board.
  • Networking became easier. I had opportunity to meet other leadership teams and interact with a wide array of groups who reached out to partner with 20/30.
  • Professional Development was presented to me left and right. I had opportunity to grow my communication and public speaking skills, learn about organizational behavior, and provide professional development to other YPs who were looking to network, volunteer, or establish new friendships.
  • I also shared my community and YP engagement with my employer, who not only supported me but recognized my work as part of our company’s brand. Wow. Talk about opportunity


Opportunity was the key .. it was all around me and the best part was I was having a freaking blast! Being part of The 20/30 Club was a darn good time!!!

  • Friendships - I met new people I know will be lifelong friends, went to charity fundraisers, bopped around to new Cleveland hot spots, and had impromptu fun late nights hanging with Club and Board members.
  • Cool Experiences – I’ve been to the Natural History Museum’s rooftop after hours to view Saturn through their giant telescope, sat at dinner with local CEOs and peppered them with questions, enjoyed the Cleveland skyline on a rooftop patio while tasting Great Lakes beers. The list keeps going…
  • Personal Development – I’m happy, confident, and feel more fulfilled outside of my career.

2030 Board

So remember earlier when I said you can have your cake and eat it too? You can! Joining a YPO didn’t box me in, it allowed me to expand and grow my horizons and career while having a great time. I’m sharing my personal story to encourage you to find a young professional organization you’re passionate about and get involved. You have so much waiting for you and you never know how it could change your life! Cleveland is THE place to be right now for young professionals and you have every opportunity to make it yours.

The question isn’t why should you join a YPO .. the real question is why would you NOT join a YPO. DO IT! Great things are waiting for you.

Engage! Cleveland serves as a resource hub for all things young professional. Check out our website to look at the 80+ young professional groups that are a part of our Young Professional Organizations Directory. Additionally, consider coming to our YP Workshop on Saturday to learn more.

Thoughts or questions for our guest blogger, Sarah Gray, you can reach out to her at President@Cleveland2030.org