Mingle your way into a future career

Finding a job in the field of your major isn’t so common nowadays. If you are a graduating senior, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You are either lucky and already have a job lined up, or you are stressing about the big question: “What the heck am I going to do after graduation?”

You know you want to say that you’re no longer waiting tables and getting a big boy or big girl job, but you also know that the chances are rather slim.

Getting out of the college environment will be a challenge as you are establishing your career. You’ve become so comfortable in the past four, five or even six years (that’s you, “super seniors”). However, life outside of school doesn’t have to be so unfamiliar.

There is a local group that provides you with a number of networking opportunities where you can mingle with professionals of your age and meet future friends, colleagues and even your new boss. This group is called the Young Professionals of Fort Myers/Lee County.

Dan Sinclair founded it in March 2002 as the first young professionals group in the state.

“Initially our group covered the whole state,” Sinclair said. “We had people coming to our events from Daytona, Tampa, Marco Island, etc.”

You might ask how these networking events are different from the ones that are put on by various local chambers. The answer is easy; it says it right in its name: “young.”

At these events you don’t have to feel like you are the youngest person in the room who has nothing in common with the majority of people who might be in their 60s. The age range at the YP events and meetings is 18 to 50.

The idea for the group came to Sinclair after a social gathering.

“I ran into a couple of friends at a local chamber function who were from the area,” he said. “They were venting to me how we were the only ones at the chamber meeting who were under 60. They wanted to be able to network with friends their own age for business.”

Two weeks later, Young Professionals was born, and it’s been rolling very well ever since.

By becoming a member of the group you will be among local business owners and community leaders. In addition, attending the events will give you the opportunity to know people in the community, and more importantly, they will know you.

Sinclair says what’s most important is when you meet the business owners and obtain their contact information, you can become friends with them, so when you want a job, you are not just a faceless resume in a pile on someone’s desk.

“Often, submitting a resume isn’t even required at that point, and the owners are courting [you] for the position,” Sinclair said.

He also said they would like to see far more Florida Gulf Coast University students involved, and even talks about starting a YP group on campus.

Through YP, you are going to be surrounded with people who want to be more and accomplish more. When stepping out of college, that’s exactly the type of environment you need in order to be successful.

“Our organization helps groom local leaders as well, and we support our members running for office, getting on the board of directors of local charities, etc.,” Sinclair said.

The next Young Professionals event will be held on Wednesday, March 25, when members of the group attend the Fort Myers Film Festival at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers. You can find details on the event at www.YPEvent21.com

For more information, go to their Facebook page at YPFanPage.com or contact the founder directly at facebook.com/DanSinclair.