First and foremost, this is not a marketing post from a KCYP board member. This is me, speaking truly from the heart, being vulnerable and open about my experience.
Let me start by saying I was a pretty reserved individual in my teen years and early 20s. Time spent with friends was few and far between as I finished college and began my career. But, fast forward to 2018; after living a life chasing my career and not really knowing anyone, I reached a turning point in my life and wanted to change that.
You see, my career in hospitality at that time meant that I needed to network to gain business and build awareness for my properties. A similar concept to literally anyone with any job. I discovered KCYP on Instagram and followed the organization for a while, not really sure if I would be a good fit. I mean, I was a hotel manager with weird hours. Who cares about that?
I finally took the plunge in January of 2019 and joined Kootenai County Young Professionals on a whim as I was being pressured to do more networking.
Here’s what I was expecting to get out of it:
- Periodic meetings where I would force myself to meet new people and tell them about the hotel I was trying to reinvent.
- General communication from other members trying to promote their businesses as well
- Maybe a few acquaintances that I could seek out and put into my “comfort zone” for larger events full of strangers.
This is what I actually got out of it:
- An open and welcoming environment! My first experience with KCYP was an event where I met maybe 20 people, and every single person in attendance made a point to introduce themselves to me.
- Great events! I started attending committee meetings and got to see the thought and care that was put into planning events for the membership base. (Side note- I planned an event that I’m to this day extremely proud of. You might remember it; the Tubbs Hill Cleanup in April 2019!)
- A network of individuals that I could call on for just about any need. I became proud of how “well connected” I became in such a short period of time.
But most importantly, I made FRIENDS!
This is where I’m going to get vulnerable, so bear with me.
When I joined KCYP, my circle was very small, and the majority of my friends lived in different states. I spent a lot of downtime on my own, with the occasional night out for drinks with coworkers, both former and current, but not many real connections.
Being a member of KCYP opened me up to a world where I was accepted for who I am and not because of a job title. The friendships I’ve made are like none that I’ve ever had before, and I know this for one simple reason:
The day before my Tubbs Hill Cleanup, I was let go from a job that I loved and one that I felt really defined me. The outpouring of support I received from my friends at KCYP made me feel like I was “worth it” no matter what I did for work. I spent the next six weeks unemployed before I found a service-level job. I spent a year serving my friends at several formal and high price events. And not once did I ever feel judged. In that time, I felt more at peace with myself and what I had to offer than any time before that. And that’s when I knew that KCYP was more to me than just an organization. It was and is to this day a family.
Had I not taken that plunge in 2019, I don’t think I would be in as good of a place as I am now, with friends that I talk to on a regular basis, countless nights spent bantering over good food and good wine, and an extension of my family that I never thought I would have, living in North Idaho.
Fast forward to today; I have a great job with a great company and an incredible network of friends to confide in. And I’ll say it again, KCYP played a large part in getting me there.
So I’ll circle back to why I think you should join KCYP. Maybe you’re like me; maybe you’ve found yourself in a place where you know you need to get out and meet people, but you’re not sure where to start. KCYP is the organization to do just that!
But don’t just take my word for it. Come to an event and talk to some of our current members. While I know everyone’s story is different, we’ve all come together for one main reason: A sense of community.
Trust me, I guarantee you’ll feel it too.
This post is dedicated to those KCYP members who have lifted me up in my times of need and cheered me on in times of success; you all know who you are.
Shane Solorza has been a KCYP Member since 2019 and has served on the board since Jan 2020. By day, he is a Staffing Coordinator for Amazon.com Workforce Staffing supporting Customer Fulfillment in Eastern Washington. Strike up a conversation with him talking about your dogs, his dog Aspen, or your favorite coffee shop!