If you are new to NYC and looking for a way to meet people while learning and challenging yourself, I recommend taking advantage of a recent trend in many nonprofits: young professionals groups. Non-profits create young professional networks in order to get young adults more involved in the organization. I am a member of several of these groups and I strongly recommend them to young professionals for the following reasons:

  1. Network: What I love the most about these groups is that they tend to have young people from different fields working together on a common issue. It’s not an unfamiliar scene to find a teacher, a law student, an investment banker, and a nonprofit president-hopeful sitting together discussing their passion and suggestions for educational equality.
  2. Learn Skills: These groups aren’t just about sitting around and talking about an issue; you get to roll up your sleeves and get involved. Whether it’s fundraising and marketing or being a career counselor for a day, you get to develop interests and skills you may not have ever known you had.
  3. Give Back: All of your actions go towards the greater good of the organization and the community it serves. It’s not uncommon for discussions to lead to the creation of a new program for teens, or for fundraisers to go so well that more families can be served.
  4. Look Good: While the level of commitment can vary by organization, you are never turned away for wanting to become more involved. As a result your work can be placed front and center on your resume. Now, what looks better than community service that demands a commitment and innovation while also forcing you to grow professionally?

These groups allow us to use our passion and skills for good while providing a space to explore new ideas and interests. Below I have listed some organizations; the first three I am a part of, and the others are organizations that I have heard great things about. If you are in NYC, visit their websites to get involved.

  • Step Up Women’s Network: Step Up Women’s Network is a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to strengthening community resources for women and girls. Through teen empowerment programs for underserved girls, women’s health education and advocacy, professional mentorship and social networking opportunities, we educate and activate our members to ensure that women and girls have the tools they need to create a better future. Recent Event: Photography exhibit hosted by teens enrolled in their teen empowerment program. Cost: $50
  • Let’s Get Ready!: LGR’s YPN is a network of young professionals committed to supporting Let’s Get Ready through their mentorship of LGR students, fundraising, donations, and networks There are two main events for people to be involved in: Career Days (providing mentoring opportunities for disadvantaged teens to learn about different careers) and fundraising events. Recent event: Career Day for teens at NYU. Cost: None.
  • Emerging Leaders of New York Arts (ELNYA): The group aims to bring together local, young arts administrators to discuss challenges specific to their field and generation. Our events are designed to help build the contacts, skills, and knowledge of arts professional under the age of 35 or with less than five years experience in the field. By focusing on this specific demographic we can empower associates, assistants, and junior level staff to explore ideas and potential they may not have opportunity to with their day-to-day responsibilities. Recent event: Happy hour and book club. Cost: None
  • Food Bank for New York City: Food Bank For New York City’s Young Professionals is a special group of successful, ambitious individuals, aged 21 through 35, committed to the fight to end hunger throughout the five boroughs. The Young Professsionals support the work of the Food Bank by raising funds and awareness through social events and campaigns geared toward younger New Yorkers. Cost: None
  • New York Urban League: NYULYP is a unique entity of the NYUL designed to serve as an empowerment forum for individuals ages 21-40 that live and work throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The organization trains, develops and educates young professionals to take leadership roles within the National Urban League (NUL), the civil rights movement and society-at-large. Members of NYULYP are defining, developing, implementing and leading the next generation. Cost: $75
  • Red Cross: The purpose of the Young Professionals Committee is to build awareness and raise funds in support of the mission of the American Red Cross in Greater New York (ARC/GNY). In addition, it is a platform for grooming members for future leadership roles on its Board of Trustees or the Boards of Advisors of its Area Offices. Cost: None