Finding great jobs and professional matches
When Nicole Broch first came to Springfield ten years ago from Florida to be with her husband, she never dreamed she would be serving as a voting member on the board of the city’s Chamber of Commerce. But she is now doing just that in her role as president of a local networking group called Young Springfield Professionals Network (YSPN).
YSPN is a group of more than 200 young professionals, living and working in the Springfield area – occupations ranging from working for the State of Illinois all the way to the private sector in the banking, medical and other industries. The group participates in community service projects, networking events and hosts six professional development events annually.
Broch has been a member since 2007 and says YSPN is an outlet for young professionals to find other young professionals to network with, to have fun with and to engage them in the community.
She is especially passionate about the organization because she knows the struggle she endured when she first moved to town. “I had a network of three friends when I got here and they were my husband’s friends’ wives, and I scraped, bartered and begged to find jobs, and that network has grown because of my affiliation with YSPN. Just meeting new people I might have not had a chance to meet or interacting with them – anything to get me to a level of familiarity with the community and people here.”
Bailey Kramp is the Job Board chair for YSPN. She’s been with the group since 2009 and says YSPN has several resources for young professionals seeking employment. “The newest thing we started is resume reviews, and those are free for members,” Kramp said. “We have a job posting section on our website that I maintain and I always look for ways to find jobs and professional matches – a great added value and benefit for our members.”
For an annual membership fee of $25, members can participate in all the activities the group has to offer. It will host its Membership Drive Feb. 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Floyd’s Thirst Parlor. YSPN recently orchestrated a trip to Peoria to see the Rivermen hockey team play. The group also held a panel discussion on low-income housing with guests Deputy Director Melissa Huffstedtler from the Springfield Housing Authority, Executive Director Cindy Drum from Contact Ministries, Executive Director Sarah Mackey from Habitat for Humanity, and the panel moderator Sandy Robinson from the Office of Community Relations of the City of Springfield.
Past philanthropic events have included a fundraiser which raised $1,500 in proceeds that went to genHKids in Springfield, a Habitat for Humanity build and a meal preparation at the Ronald McDonald House. The group also hosted the Corporate Food Fight Challenge, a community-wide food drive that benefits the Central Illinois Food Bank. Last year’s Food Fight brought in over 40,000 pounds of food from donors.
Additionally, YSPN hosts an annual non-profit fair that matches young professionals with nonprofits seeking volunteers and employees. “The concern of the local non-profit organizations has been they are having problems getting fresh ideas and young professionals to get involved in community service,” Broch said. “Well, we’ve got a direct access to that.” According to Broch, many of the participants at the non-profit fair also expressed interested serving on the board of non-profit organizations.
Lauren Gibson is an MPA student at UIS and serves as the student liaison for YSPN. She has been active in the group since November 2012. “I’m going to be a liaison between YSPN, the Chamber and college community to get college students more involved in the Springfield community in hopes they will stay in the community after they graduate,” she said. Gibson hopes her involvement with the group will change student perspectives on this thriving city. “I’m very passionate about Springfield and a lot of students at UIS kind of see Springfield as a stepping point to where they want to go in their career; they want to move to a bigger city,” she said. “But I really want to be the person to show them that Springfield has a lot to offer if they would decide to make their career here.”
Gibson adds that the professional development events YSPN offers are especially beneficial to all students, including her. “It will help me decide if I want to pursue a career in a non-profit or in the government and give me the tools to see what a job in that sector in this city is like.”