Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tis the Season

Well Traverse City, this will be my last TCYP blog post for the year 2012. In the holiday spirit, I will be spending my time with family for the remainder of the year and will not be blogging about my Young Professional life from my trip home to Florida.

With that said, we will be back with even more great guest bloggers, random ramblings of my Traverse City adjustments and updates on local happenings the first week of January! We are making the Traverse City Young Professionals program bigger and better than ever before, so get excited for some fantastic new programs and events!

I hope that everyone has a safe and memorable Holiday, whether you're in the Traverse City snow (if it keeps up, that is) or on the beach somewhere in Florida (if you are, feel free to contact me...I'll be the one on the tie dye beach towel). I've had a wonderful first year with you, Traverse City, and I look forward to many new experiences and to creating new connections and memories!

From my laptop to yours, Happiest of Holidays!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guest Blogger: Andrew Kohlmann

This month's guest blogger is Andrew Kohlmann, owner of Signs Now. I'll let Andrew take it from here!
Andrew and his family

I am a "transplant" from Flint, Michigan.  I moved up with my mother at the end of my 5th grade school year. Upon arriving, I quickly came to appreciate what Traverse City had to offer and especially loved the outdoor activities and closeness to nature. During junior high and high school I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in something related to fine arts or graphic design. A family member recommended that I look into the sign business as they thought it would be a good fit to my creative side. In 1996, while attending high school I started my career with Signs Now. As it turned out, it was a great fit -- I truly enjoyed seeing my creativity as a graphic artist come to fruition as signs that I designed were being installed all over our community.

Fast-forward seventeen years: Still with the same company but now with a new title -- owner. Four and a half years ago, my wife and I purchased the business and have never looked back. My role with the company has, of course, changed and I wear many "hats" but I enjoy this business without end. We're proud to say that we've grown the business in a down economy, been named as a Top 10 Traverse City area Small Businesses by the Chamber of Commerce in 2011 and 2012 and have enjoyed many other milestones such as the birth of our daughters Annabelle and Alissa.

I share my history with you as a testament to two fairly straight-forward but sometimes overlooked concepts:  "going the extra mile" and building relationships.

Earlier this year, I came across an article online that was inspired by the teachings of Napoleon Hill -- "Habits of Going the Extra Mile". It gave many examples of how important this practice is to the success and growth of individuals. While the concept seems very basic and simple, I think it's the small things as demonstrated in the article that can make the biggest difference in a person, a business, a city and more. While reading the piece, I found many parallels to times in my life in which I went the extra mile and how, later, the impact became more apparent that my success was due to these efforts. I've found the article's examples to be so impactful that it's become a standard part of our hiring process -- It's a required read for potential job candidates prior to starting the interview process.

Building relationships for me has been the more challenging of the two. Being a "typical" right-brainer, early in my career, I found it very challenging to muster up the courage to get involved in the community and to go to events and network. However, knowing that it was a “must” to build a successful business and to help build our community, I forced myself to “come out of my shell”.

I think that Traverse City has become such a vibrant and dynamic city largely due to these two aforementioned concepts. We are part of a city that's built on relationships and we welcome all of those who want to contribute to make it a better place for all. We have amazing organizations such as the Young Professionals, TC Chamber, the Rotary and many more that help us to build relationships and encourages “keeping it local”.

I also think that we're a community of people, businesses and organizations that “go the extra mile” – which has helped our area remain relatively isolated from the effects of the recession. We're lucky to have such an amazing mix of strengths, positive community members, a beautiful natural resources and a growing number of Young Professionals relocating to Traverse City that all help to make our community “the place to be”.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Take a minute to enjoy the winter winds.

Knock knock. Whose there? Winter.

In case you were still in denial/living under a rock/still holding on to the hope that there will be a beach day sometime soon...I have an awakening for you: Winter is no longer headed our way. Winter is here and it is not going anywhere.

So enjoy it. Breathe it in. Break out those scarves and long winter coats. Throw on some warm gloves and fashionable-yet-functional hats. Drag your skis and snow shoes out of storage.

We live in Traverse City. We are building relationships and raising families in a place where you can drive twenty minutes and arrive at a ski resort. Our streets are decked out with lighted trees and gorgeous store fronts.

I've almost lived here for a year now. I've experienced actual seasons (no offense, Florida...but you only have one season: summer.all.year.round). I've survived a busy season in the event planning world. So, now here I am: almost a year of Traverse City living later -- and I plan on enjoying every second of this winter.

So do yourself a favor. Take a minute to walk outside and look around. Take a deep breath or two and be grateful for everything that is surrounding you. If you're like me, you'll probably stand there and think to yourself, "Wow. How could anyone not want to live here?"

Maybe you won't have that same feeling of happiness when you embrace your surroundings, but at least you'll enjoy a breath of fresh air. What I'm really getting at is that the seasons are changing, the holiday season is upon us, and sometimes everyone needs a second to sit back and enjoy the things that they have.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Traverse City YPs are Thankful For

When you ask someone living in the Traverse City area what they're thankful for, you're likely to hear the following:

"My wonderful family."

"Being lucky enough to live in such a gorgeous and thriving place"
"To have a job that I enjoy"

While those are all valid and extremely important things to be thankful for (and believe me, none of us take them for granted -- I'm thankful for all of the above every single day), they're, to put it bluntly, expected. So, we reached out to some of our Young Professionals to offer some more personal and creative "things they're thankful for."

So, enjoy the following answers from your local Young Professionals while you spend time enjoying the things you're thankful for. 

"I’m thankful for when I’m transitioning my business for bigger and better things, that other businesses, non-profits, and friends I’ve met through work have offered to step up and help me pack and move KidzArt to our new location over their Christmas breaks. Taking time that normally goes to their family to help their community family. I’m so blessed to work with amazing organizations that believe in what I do and support me unconditionally."

-Kate Daggett, KidzArt

"I'm thankful that each day I get to make an impact on someone's life.  From helping people determine their dream job to giving people the encouragement to finish that last math requirement, I leave work everyday knowing I've made a difference."

-Shannon Owen, Northwestern Michigan College

"I am thankful to have a boss who not only taught me how to use my brakes when driving in snow(after I drifted us into the division of Grandview Parkway and Union...more than once), but also one who has taught me at least six ways to tie my scarves, let me know that I will probably freeze if I did not purchase outerwear that goes down to my knees, that Gobblers are the best turkey sandwich ever and who surprises me with gifts like obnoxious colored nail polish and Hello Kitty Make-up holders."

-Meaghan Jameson, Events North

'I’m thankful for the red-brick paved streets in the old town section of TC.  I just think it’s good character - If it were up to me, all the streets downtown would be brick."

-Warren Call, Huntington

"I am most thankful for three things (in no particular order):
1.       Mary’s Kitchen Port
2.       Frozen yogurt
3.       Meeting Allison Beers when I moved to Traverse City!"
-Kelly Schramski, Traverse City State Bank

"I'm thankful for Shorts microbrews. Where else can you find such unique, tasty concoctions with memorable hand-drawn labels and silly names to enjoy with loved ones during the holiday season?"
-Andrew Kohlmann, Signs Now

Well, there you have it! I hope that your Thanksgiving is wonderful and that you have some great things in your life to be thankful for (whether it be your job or your favorite microbrew)!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Keeping it Local...Because You'd be Silly Not to do So.

One of my closest friends from Florida came to visit this past weekend and I was so excited to show her my new city. I wanted to make sure to take her places that only Traverse City offered...which was probably the easiest goal I've ever achieved.

The main reason that showing my friend the best of Traverse City was so simple was because local Traverse City businesses are fantastic. The businesses of traverse city offer such great products, food, drink, etc. that making sure to show off what we offer locally was a breeze.

We started off at Firefly on Friday night and had a wonderful dinner (and far too many pita chips), which included a lot of locally grown ingredients. We went back to my apartment and snacked on some Great Lakes Potato Chip Co. Tortilla chips...yes. I even keep it local at home.

Saturday began with some Higher Grounds coffee and a trip to the Commons. The commons did not disappoint - especially High Five Threads, which even had free (yes, you read that North Peak Siren on tap. Quality local goods...and local brews? We were sold.
We grabbed some so-delicious-that-I'm-still-thinking-about-it whitefish dip at Mackinaw Brew Co. before changing and driving over to The Jolly Pumpkin for dinner. The Jolly Pumpkin was beyond-words delicious. Where else can you get a side of truffle fries with your turkey sandwich topped with cherry pesto? Probably not many places...except for Traverse City.

Saturday night finished off with a trip to the new and improved Right Brain Brewery. If you have not taken a trip to their new location you need to go. right now. It has all of the charm of their last location, but with around four times the space. Plus, they always play the best music, not to mention have the most creative names for all of their beverages (who doesn't want to tell people that they had a wine called "The Betty White" the other day?!)

Sunday morning included a walk by the bay, a lot of touristy photos, and a brunch stop at Morsels, where my friend claimed that she had "the best breakfast sandwich in the world" and that her latte was "as close to perfection as humanly possible."

What I'm getting at is that we have such amazing locally owned businesses. It is really great to be able to allow our out of town guests to really experience what Traverse City has to offer...and that we get to enjoy these places on a daily basis.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Making Sure Your Voice is Heard.

I'll be honest, I was under the impression that as a 22 year old who was new to the Traverse City community, no one was really that interested in what I had to say.

For a few months, I kind of just kept my mouth shut (which, if you know me personally, you know is not an easy feat). I attended meetings, conferences, events and networking nights, but I tended to only speak when spoken to and stayed inside of my shell when it came to local issues or questions where I wasn't 100% sure I knew the answer.

In my mind, I was positive that not one of these local leaders or business professionals actually cared about the opinions of a young professional, especially one who did not have much (no, really...I hadn't even been out to the dunes at this point) experience with the area.

...then the Young Professionals asked me to write this blog. My first thought was What?! Who wants to hear about a girl who moved from Florida to Michigan and her adventures adjusting to snow and thoughts on Traverse City?"

Well,  I've been writing this blog for a few months now. I've been planted in Traverse City for 10 months. I've attended countless meetings, networking nights, events and conferences. I can even give someone directions on how to get to the dunes. Most importantly, I now realize that Traverse City cares a lot about what the Young Professionals in the town have to say.

I speak up in meetings and find my opinion on local issues and how to find solutions is actually valued. Local leaders are are listening to what the Young Professionals in the area have to say because they are interested and want to hear from us, not because they're simply being polite.

The Young Professionals program is continually changing for the better, and 2013 is going to bring a lot of improvements and involvement opportunities. Why? Because the YP's of Traverse City have a lot to offer, and Traverse City's leaders are taking notice.

So, if I could go back to the beginning of this year and tell myself one thing, it would be to speak up. We're lucky to live in a place where the opinions of Young Professionals matter, even if they are from 22 year old Florida transfers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Guest Blogger: Lindsey Dickinson

This week's post is compliments of guest blogger, Lindsey Dickinson. Enjoy!

We did it.  We moved back to Traverse City.  We found great jobs.  We bought a house.  We made the move and made it work.  Just about every week now I have friends, colleagues and contacts from different parts of my life who ask me, “how did you do it?  How did you make it work?”  Coming back to Traverse City, during a time when the economy was even worse than it is today, was tough.  It wasn’t Facebook or blogging, Tweeting or tagging that got us reconnected in TC.  It was good old-fashioned hand shaking, meaningful conversations, tireless networking, elevator speeches and resume tweaking that landed us where we are today.

Like many of us who grew up in Traverse City (or any other smallish town in Michigan), all we ever wanted to do in high school was leave Traverse City -- a place where we knew everyone and everyone knew us.  After trying out Virginia and then Arizona my husband and I, both TC natives, made the big move across the pond.  We spent an amazing stint living and working in London.  We did the big city thing, we traveled, and we met lifelong friends.  Then, we started missing the place that always seemed too small.  We missed the incredible seasons, the natural beauty, and the bank tellers who knew us by first name.  Like so many other young professionals we decided to make the move back.

It was 2009, the economy had slowed to an almost-standstill, jobs were scarce and housing, as usual, was expensive in Traverse City.  We set ourselves a four-month time limit, figuring that if we couldn’t find jobs within that time frame, it would be time to explore another new place.  Both my husband and I graduated college with history degrees.  Both of us went into education -- I through the Teach for America Program, he through a more traditional teacher education program.  Coming home we knew that our odds of getting into teaching in Traverse City were slim to none (although it can be done!)  So we started making a plan to find jobs in related career areas and began tapping the contact lists from our high school days, our fantastic community college years, and the rolodexes (yes they still exist!) of our parents and their friends.  “It’s all about connecting the dots,” my mom told us.

We made cold calls to friends of friends.  We prepared our one-minute “elevator speeches” for each of the different career areas we were interested in and gave them at every chance.  For days and weeks we set up and attended meetings, resumes in-hand, ready to jump at the first lukewarm opportunity that presented itself.  We did it for one whole month, then two, then three.  We added to our strategy by volunteering and taking temporary jobs that weren’t in our chosen fields -- he worked retail and I did substitute teaching.   We languished in no-job land for what seemed like an eternity -- did I mention we were living at home the whole time?!  It all felt so totally unproductive and we were getting discouraged.  The dots did not feel connected.  But slowly, our phones started ringing -- people were calling us instead of the other way around.  Our meetings and volunteering and hours of follow-up were starting to pay off.  We were given opportunities to apply for jobs, have interviews, take meetings with higher-ups, and start to get what felt like a foothold in the local job market.

In the end, my husband landed a great job in the social work field; the first introduction to which came through a meeting with a family friend, who mentioned a potential job opening, that was available earlier than was first planned, which fit perfectly into our four-month time limit.  My job, landed just at the four-month mark, with a fantastic local marketing company, was the product of a connection made in high school during a summer job.  My former employer -- a long-time local small business owner -- remembered my skill set from high school and college, talked to me about my strengths and suggested me to a friend, who owned and operated her own marketing and communications firm, and gave me a chance. 

So we did it.  We moved back to Traverse City.  We found great jobs.  We bought a house and we made this amazingly beautiful, sometimes tough-to-crack, city our hometown again.  We connected the dots.  Young professionals: it can be done.  I encourage you to make the leap of faith and live back at home for a couple of months to give TC a chance again.  I think you’ll find that everything you remember from your time growing up here, is the same…but different.  You’ll find that little Traverse City has grown and that not everyone knows everyone else anymore -- but that the best way to go about finding your dream job in this dream locale is to go old school and start reconnecting the old-fashioned way.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An Overview of the TCYP Annual Conference

Yesterday was the Traverse City Young Professionals Annual Conference (if you're friends with me on Facebook you already know this. I may or may not have been casually mentioning it for the past month or so) and it was quite the event.

Everyone in attendance left the event feeling like they had gained a ton of knowledge, tips and tricks from all of the speakers they experienced.

The day started out with Keynote Speaker, Organized Audrey. Audrey was not only a joy to chat with, she gave a presentation that I'm pretty positive inspired everyone in the room to live a much more organized life. Her audience was engaged the entire time- seriously...someone had to take a bathroom break and literally sprinted back into the room so they wouldn't miss too much of her speech...she was that great.

When Audrey's presentation concluded, we had a round table session with a wide variety of topics. When I say wide variety...I mean a wiiiiide variety. We had Round Table topics that spanned from "What is Rotary" to "Vegan and Vegetarian Living" all the way to "How to Exercise at Your Desk." All of our speakers came prepared with goodies for attendees and all the knowledge a person could want about the subject being presented. I also want to let everyone reading this blog know that yes, you can work out your triceps while at work.

The Lunch Panel speakers were not only an impressive and influential bunch, they also had great advice and interesting things to say. The topic of the panel was "Things I wish I knew when I was 24," so the audience of YPs was absolutely kept engaged.

The afternoon breakout sessions were a hit- speed networking even had to turn YPs away first session because it reached max capacity! All of the other breakout speakers were extremely well received and from the feedback I've received thus far, all of the YPs were very happy with the presentations and were kept engaged the entire hour they were in attendance. The speakers I spoke to said that all of the YPs had excellent questions and were a fantastic audience- way to represent Traverse City, YPs!

The conference was followed by a reception in Aerie Lounge, which was a hit (but when is Aerie Lounge not a wonderful time? You really cannot go wrong!).

All in all, this year's conference was very well-received! Thank you to everyone who attended and we cannot wait to see you at the YP events coming up early next year and at the 2013 conference!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A New Outlook on Traverse City

Well, I've been a Traverse City resident for a little over nine months now. I know what you're thinking, "wow, she's probably a pro on everything and anything Traverse City!!!" Surprisingly (is my sarcasm palpable yet?) - that is a false statement. 
I credit majority of things that I know about Traverse City to a combination of having Allison Beers as my boss and mentor and also to my curious nature and attraction to new experiences (hence my moving across the country to pursue my dreams).
I also have accepted that not only do I still have a lot to learn about all things Traverse City, but that this town is constantly changing. I'm convinced that once I think I know a lot about the happenings of the area, there will be at least twenty things that have changed or are being created. Reasons like this are why I believe that events such as the Chamber Expo and the Chamber Economic Outlook Breakfast are so important.
They're also coming up soon- and both on the same day! What are these events, you ask? 
The Chamber Economic Outlook Breakfast serves to help the Traverse City community forecast the emerging business climate. There will be a question-and-answer section, highlighting of current and future trends and wisdom and insight on all of the issues currently affecting the economy.
I've been told that this event sells out every single year and also that the breakfast served is absolutely delicious. Find out more right here!
Directly following the Economic Outlook Breakfast is the Chamber Business Expo (same location, convenient timing- as an event planner, I applaud this arrangement). The Chamber Business Expo is essentially a trade show, but instead of highlighting just one industry, it showcases businesses from all over the Traverse City community. It also gives community members a chance to network and learn about new products and businesses first hand. 
Oh, and there is also a prize giveaway...and if I know the Traverse City area like I think I do, the prizes will be nothing short of top-notch. Find out more right here!

Keep the outlook on Traverse City's future positive...I foresee nothing but great things happening!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Traverse City, the City that never...well, sometimes, sleeps.

You probably read the title of this blog and immediately assumed that I was going to write about the various night-life hot spots in the Traverse City area. While I do enjoy a night out at 7 Monks every once in a while, that is not the purpose of this week's post.

This week's blog title (and content) is inspired by an event called the "Sleep Out."

If you've never heard of the Sleep Out, I'll give you a quick description- basically, community leaders (For instance, Doug Luciani) raise awareness about the need of home heating assistance by sleeping outdoors for a night. This year's "Sleep Out" is occurring on October 30th.

Events such as this are another reason Traverse City makes me consistently proud to call it my home. The Traverse City community is, to put it in the simplest terms, giving.

Every morning when I open the Ticker, there are at least three different events happening benefiting local charities. There is always a mention of a non-profit organization surpassing its fundraising goals or helping out a local cause.

Traverse City loves to support all of the non-profit organization in the area....and there are a lot of them.  It is so impressive to me that so many of these organizations are growing and continuing to prosper because of the helping hands and giving hearts of Traverse City's residents.

For instance, have you heard of Swingshift and the Stars? Chances are you have. In case you haven't, you can find out more about it right here.

Not only does Swingshift and the Stars raise funds and awareness for local non-profit organizations- it showcases six different non-profits every year, giving multiple groups a chance to tell their story and raise their funding. Not only that, but the event is sold out every.single.month. Why is that? Because the people of Traverse City care. Traverse City enjoys attending events that help the community.

How can you not be proud to live amongst people who are passionate about helping others and giving to the less fortunate? It's things like this that create such a strong sense of community in Traverse City.

So next time you have a free night, open your Record Eagle or Business News and see what fundraising events are happening around town. Don't be surprised when you notice that there are probably multiple opportunities every night. That's just how Traverse City does things.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Guest Blogger: Rachel

Please enjoy a fantastic blog by this month's guest blogger, Rachel Wasson!

3½ years ago I made the most exciting decision of my life… moving to Traverse City!

After growing up on the East side of the state and attending GVSU in Western Michigan, I quickly realized the East side was not where I wanted to be! As I entered the final semester of my Senior year I decided to pursue a career in Banking (by the way it was April of 2009 – BAD time to realize that you wanted to go into Banking…). Walking through the Grand Valley Career Fair I stumbled upon our sister Bank, The Bank of Holland, who was hiring. So like any college soon-to-be grad I jumped on the opportunity and handed over my resume. It was shortly after I received a call from HR stating the Holland position had been fulfilled, but there was an opening in our Traverse City office with The Bank of Northern Michigan. I had only been to Traverse City once before – for a gymnastics competition – and that was during the yucky March/April time frame when the snow has turned brown and people are ready to be done with the snow. However, I had spent many early winters snowboarding at Crystal Mountain with friends from college. So needless to say… I was thrilled for the opportunity to head North!

Yay! I got the job and am moving to Traverse City! It wasn’t until my family and friends left after helping me move into my 1 bedroom Arbors of Traverse apartment did I realize I was all alone, in (what seemed to be a LARGE) new town, with no friends. Not to mention trying to figure out the one-way’s getting to work Monday morning was more than taxing on me the first couple of weeks. However, once I got settled I decided to join the Traverse City Young Professionals in order to meet new people. TCYP offered everything from fun Under Cover Nights out, to professional networking events, to philanthropic community volunteer events.

A few days later I decided to sign up with the volunteer committee, which was painting the Senior Center on West Bay. I was so nervous to go all by myself, but I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Once we all got started chipping away the old paint I was impressed with how many people took their time to introduce themselves to me as I was a new face they hadn’t seen before! As we started the daunting painting task ahead of us, I really started to connect with these new people! And despite my sore muscles and totally painted up clothing (apparently I painted myself more than the building) I walked away with a couple new friends!

However, the BEST part of TCYP for me was meeting my fiancĂ©, David J The networking event was at the Elmwood Township Marina and we toured an old schooner provided by the Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay. Having both taken Sailing classes in college – we hit it off immediately! We had our first date at Northpeak – enjoying local craft beers. Next was Apache – enjoying the beautiful scenery (and fantastic food!) West Bay had to offer.

For a young couple, TC has plenty to offer us. Microbrew Festivals, Film Festivals, 5k races, and Winter Festivals keep us quite busy! From Summers spent sailing & kayaking, Autumns & Springs spent hiking and wine-tasting, to Winters spent snow-shoeing and snowboarding (skiing for David) we absolutely love with Northern Michigan. Hikes to the Sand Dunes or Pyramid Point really make us step back, take a deep breath, and stop to think about all the natural beauty that surrounds the Traverse City area. Never once do we find ourselves wishing to go downstate to do anything. Even David who is a HUGE (and I mean HUGE) Red Wings Fan, because TC has the Red Wings too! Okay, maybe he would like to be at an actual Detroit game every now and then, but still! Holding the door open for Chris Osgood and Brett Lebda at a local bar one night was definitely the icing on the cake for David!

That’s why we can’t wait to be married in Northport of next Fall to show all our friends and family what a beautiful place we’ve chosen to call Home, Traverse City J

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

So...what are your plans on October 23rd?

Seriously. What are your plans on October 23rd?

Well, perhaps I should start out by asking you a few questions:

1. Are you are Young Professional between the ages of 21-40?
2. Do you enjoy networking with other Young Professionals in your community?
3. Would you like to learn from some of Traverse City's leaders?
4. Do you enjoy having your head shot taken....for free?
5. Would you like to spend a day doing all of these things at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa?

If you answered "Yes!" to at least two of those questions, then you should look into signing up to attend this year's Traverse City Young Professionals Conference at the Grant Traverse Resort and Spa. And yes...this event is on October 23rd (how observant of you!).

Why am I pushing this event on the blog, you ask? Well, there are quite a few reasons. I believe that it is actually an event that will be worth your time to attend. There are some spectacular speakers lined up and the topics they are speaking about are extremely relevant to Young Professionals and their current interests. There is also a phenomenal keynote speaker, Organized Audrey, who will be able to give you the tips and tricks you need to finally clear out your inbox, organize your files, and avoid sending irritating emails (Admit've probably CC'd far too many people at some point. It's okay, we've all been there). I'm also promoting this event because I'm one of the coordinators for it.

...but that does not mean that I am shamelessly self-promoting. I bring up the fact that I'm assisting in the coordination since because of that, I know how excited all of the speakers are to be involved. I am the one who receives phone calls and emails from speakers and speed networkers and such telling me that they are honored to have been invited because they believe that Young Professionals is an outstanding organization and that Traverse City's YPs are just such impressive individuals. I also know all of the topics for the round table discussions, break out sessions and other speeches, so I know that they are actually topics that I cannot wait to hear about.

As a YP - especially one who is on the lower end of the age spectrum - I can tell you that the topics of discussions and speeches are exactly what I would like to learn about. The topics span from business etiquette to learning how to keep the workplace green and even a discussion on ways to exercise while at your desk.

So basically what I'm saying is- this is such a wonderful opportunity- one that is right in the Grand Traverse area! Do yourself a favor and sign up to attend right here. You will not want to miss this- invite your friends, spread the word, and hopefully I'll see you there!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dear Graduate...

Dear graduates,

I hope you had a wonderful summer! I'm sure your post-grad summer life was just the best- no school work or exams to worry about, plenty of time to see your friends and hit up the beach, etc. However, now it is fall...and reality is setting in.

You need to find a career. You need to settle down in a city where you will actually have an opportunity to grow in your career path, but also where you can be among like-minded younger individuals. You are ready to leave your college-lifestyle behind, but still want to move somewhere that has a variety of culture and delicious (but still affordable) meals. You need somewhere near the beach, near a decent mall, and with housing options available at a decent price.

Well, let me explain something to you: I understand. I've been in your shoes...I just found my way a little sooner than most. I too was worried that I would end up living somewhere that could not offer me a chance to grow in my career path (or a career path that I enjoyed at all). I had no idea how to find housing anywhere that didn't offer a plethora of apartments or whether or not I would meet people my age who were, like me, working to achieve there goals.

Then I ended up in Traverse City. From one graduate to another, this is where you want to be. You may be saying to yourself "What?! Traverse City? A small city in Northern way. I want to go to Chicago or somewhere that will actually have career options."

Well graduate, Traverse City is thriving. There are so many different career paths available and an abundance of things to do, delicious (and yes...even affordable) meals to enjoy, nightlife, beaches, ski resorts and wineries...and it is all constantly improving and growing. Every day I hear about a new event space opening or a restaurant or microbrewery headed my way. Not only that, we have jobs available for you. Not just jobs that pay the bills...a whole variety of job options that actually represent the career choice you're interested in.

Do me a favor. Take the time to head over to the Traverse City Chamber website. Check out the Job Portal. Shoot- even ask me some questions! I would be more than happy to provide answers to your questions or address your concerns. Just know that Traverse City is a wonderful place to head to after graduation.

You won't regret it. Believe me- I sure didn't.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Traverse City Pride

People who live in Traverse City really love living in Traverse City. In fact, people who live in Michigan really  love living in Michigan. Not just in a "I live in a great place! We have a beach nearby and a lot of cute shops- it's lovely!" kind of way...more of a scream it from the mountain tops kind of way.

And I think that is just awesome.

Living in one really showed off their hometown. Naturally there were University of Florida and Florida State University shirts everywhere, but other than those and the occasional Disney World shirt...there were no other displays of State Pride.

After living in Traverse City for a little over seven months, I've noticed that Michiganders are proud of where they live. They display their Michigan love on their shirts, their hats, their cars...the list is never ending. Living in a state where the residents are absolutely infatuated with their place of living is so uplifting! It makes me even happier to have moved here when I realize that so many people want to represent Michigan.

Traverse City is an excellent example of this State/City declaration of love. There are literally stores selling "TC Love" shirts...and they're thriving! Where as in Florida, tourists were the only ones to purchase these types of shirts, Traverse City residents want them in every color. It's a change, but it's a wonderful one.

If you've lived in Traverse City for a while, you may not even notice the public displays of affection that the residents show for their city. However, if you spent an hour people-watching on Front Street, I'm betting you would notice a lot of Michigan and Traverse City love represented on what people are wearing.

I'm also betting that, like it does me, it will make you feel even more glad that you live somewhere to be proud of!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012's Fall?!

This time last year I was starting classes at University of Florida while working 40 hours a week at a local Fitness Center. Now, I'm smack-dab in the middle of Wedding Season and actually starting to see a few leaves turn...which never happened in Florida. Our leaves are green all year long. All. Year. Round.

Honestly, the only reason that I ever knew it was "Fall" in Florida was because football season started and Starbucks started selling Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee. Being in an area where the temperatures start dropping and trees turn a different color is so exciting and new for me! I know that fall is literally JUST beginning, but these sort of new experiences make me appreciate living here even more so.

As I mentioned, Fall also means that Wedding Season is in full swing. As I'm sure you realized, Traverse City is the perfect location for a destination wedding. Who wouldn't want a Northern Michigan wedding? We have so many wineries and event spaces to offer, numerous hotels and resorts, and a plethora of fabulous local restaurant options for Rehearsal Dinners.

While I may not have my own wedding approaching anytime in my near future, there is just something about weddings that makes me so thankful that planning and executing them is a part of my job. I can tell you from experience that pulling off a perfect wedding and receiving a "thank you" hug from a stunning bride once the reception has concluded is definitely one of the best feelings in the world. It's one of the reasons I love what I do- making people happy is one of the most fulfilling things in life...and it's a part of my job.

So to sum up what I'm trying to say here is that while I may be extremely busy and seeing all of my younger friends going back to school and enjoying some Gator Football, it is absolutely a "good busy."
To me, the start of Fall in Traverse City represents only great things: new experiences, a fulfilling career, and a confirmation that change is a good thing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest Blogger: Jonathan Campbell

Our guest blog is a week early, but we just really wanted to share what Jonathan Campbell of 231 Commerce had to say. Our Young Professionals love living in Traverse City and Jonathan sheds a little light on why starting your own business in the area is a great idea. Take it away, Jonathan!

If you were to tell me Four Years ago, that I would be married, living in Traverse City and own my own company, I would have thought you were crazy.  But, here I am living, working and playing in TC, loving every minute of it.

Three years ago I moved to Traverse City from California, where I had been living and working for a friend and before that I was in Boston working for a Commercial Contractor.  I am a Northern Michigan native, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into, but little did I know how much had changed since I lived here 13 years ago!  My girlfriend (now wife) had a job in TC, so I thought it wouldn’t be bad to live here for a year before we moved down to Chicago, so we could both pursue our careers there.  I began looking for work, but never really expected to find much because the economy was so bad and hey, we would be leaving in 8 months anyways.

The rest of the story is history, because I found a job with MyNorth Media, began my new career in Digital Marketing and decided to buy a house and stay for a while.  I began meeting a lot of new people, networked into the business community and quickly learned that the Northern Michigan that I grew up in had changed.  Traverse City is now an incubator for young energetic talent looking to succeed in an array of different fields.

In April of 2012 , myself and a business partner decided to start our own company.  With his background in E-commerce and my background in web design and development, we thought it would be a perfect match for an E-Commerce Management and Digital Marketing Company.  We both agreed that there needed to be a young, fresh and progressive digital company in town that is well versed in the industry locally as well as nationally.  We are currently managing three online stores, Consulting with future clients about steps they need to take to successfully launch an online store, designing and developing websites and working on a couple smartphone applications.  We feel that we are able to offer our clients the best service in the digital market because we are diverse and have a proven track record of success.  Instead of telling clients what we can do, we can just show them the success of the products that we have already launched.

Everyday at 231 Commerce is different and exciting.  We are able to learn new techniques to optimizing our resources and trouble shoot new problems with customers.  We are writing our own book on Product Management, SEO, Customer Service, Product Fulfillment and online branding and Traverse City is the perfect place to do this. 

We have access to everything we need here in TC and that is credit to the continued hard work of the business community encouraging and supporting young entrepreneurs as well as the groups we are a part of, including the TCYP.  The TCYP is a great group that allows younger professionals the opportunity to interact and learn from one another and share helpful information as it pertains to our generation.  Without the TCYP I feel that our younger generation would be less informed, which would make it difficult for us to assimilate into the business community and be successful.

I couldn’t think of a better place to start a company.  Traverse City is a wonderful place to live and work and I look forward to growing my business here.