Is your YPN having trouble with the definition of what a "young professional" is for the purpose of membership? You may wish to limit membership without arbitrarily discriminating against those who may get a lot out of being a member or who have a lot to offer. As the Young Professionals Network of Ontario has addressed in the past, this is a common issue. Obviously there are two parts to the definition, so let's break it down:
What is your definition of ‘young’? Are you going to create an age cut off?
Across the board, the generally accepted age cutoff for a ‘young’ professional is 40 years old throughout Ontario. The young professional network of which I am Chair is no exception to the ‘under forty’ rule; however we have implemented an alternative criterion as well.
In Simcoe County, we have used the model of 'under 40 or in your first 10 years of practice'. This definition covers some people who are a bit older than the age cut off but who are in a newly established career and are looking to make connections.
What is a professional? What types of jobs are ‘professions’?
Your professional network probably doesn’t need to have a definition for a professional; it’s a pretty self-explanatory standard. If a person is passionate about his or her job and is interested in being involved in the community, he or she would probably fit into your group.
In Simcoe County, we have determined that a ‘professional’ is someone who is in a regulated profession (like a lawyer, doctor, accountant, etc.) or entrepreneurs. Although we are not very strict in vetting people’s credentials, having this standard does create predictability in what type of people you may meet at one of our events. That being said, we have members who are between careers or those who are still completing entrance requirements, such as articling students.
It’s clear that there's room to get creative with both categories and you can probably get away with not having any criteria. In the end, the goal is for your members to be exposed to other like-minded individuals who are young at heart.
How does your YPN define a Young Professional? Do you agree with these standards? Let us know on our Facebook page.
Chair, Simcoe County Young Professionals Association
Co-Director of Communications, YPNO