Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Make New Friends, but Keep the Old...

Keeping up with the theme of "Things that I have learned since moving to Traverse City," this blog post is going to touch on the topic of making new friends.

I should start by letting you all know that I am a huge advocate for the saying "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold." Cheesy, I know, but still pretty accurate. The only part of the saying that I somewhat disagree with is the part where it insinuates that new friends will ever only be "silver"- I personally think that a handful of new friends may absolutely have the potential to become gold one day.

What I'm getting at is that leaving my friends in another state was not easy. In fact, it was terrifying and somewhat depressing at first. Picture this: Me, boarding a plane to leave Florida on New Year's Eve (where the weather is still a balmy 80 degrees) for Michigan, where I one and am completely unprepared with my single coat and fashion-not-function boots. Five days later, I celebrated my 22nd Birthday at Right Brain Brewery with my parents. Then my parents left, making my friend count a whopping 1: my boss.

So, it is safe to say that at first, I was a little worried about finding people to hang out with after work. I'm a very social person, but I had never been in a situation where I was "the new girl" and I have to admit: I'm not very good at being new.

Thankfully, Allison Beers (my boss) threw me right into as many socializing and networking opportunities at possible. I can honestly say that without Young Professionals Events and networking opportunities like Business After Hours, that I would not have met half of the wonderful people that I have. That is also a huge reason as to why I'm such a promoter for Young Professionals Events- because they really are a superb way to meet people who are around the same age as you who understand what it's like to be a Young Professional in Traverse City. They get it. They're in the same boat, and it's so much easier to row that boat when you have people in it with you who are headed in the same direction you are: forward.

With that said, let's switch over to present time. I still miss my friends back home, I still willingly hang out with my parents, and I still hang out with my boss after work... but my friend count has raised significantly. I can thank Young Professionals Events and Volunteer opportunities for a significant amount of those new friends.

I'm also pretty certain that a good number of those new friends have the potential to go from being "silver" to being "gold" in the future.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Learning that Smartphones are not always smart.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that while in college, I was glued to my iPhone. I would go out to dinner with friends and be texting someone who was not in attendance the entire time. I would go over a friend's house to watch a movie and would have no idea what occurred during the film because I was too busy checking my phone. If my ringtone went off, there was absolutely no way that I could ignore it. I simply HAD to check it right that second.

A young professional stuck to their iPhone?! Shocking, I know.

However, one of the main adjustments to living my young adult, career-woman life was learning that having your eyes glued to your phone 24/7 is just plain rude. What was once my saving grace in three hour lectures is now completely unacceptable in meetings and presentations. I have finally come to realize that I am not fooling anyone by having my phone in my lap...everyone knows it's there (C'mon... Pants are not that interesting).

Let's backtrack to January, when I was still having a really hard time accepting the concept of not texting my friends from Florida during work hours and not skimming Facebook every five minutes to see status updates of what everyone was eating for lunch. When I started my internship at Events North, one of the first things my lovely boss, Allison Beers, told me is that there is minimal texting during work hours. My first reaction was "UGH!" and I still snuck in a few more texts than I should here and there.

...but I quickly realized that in the world of Event Planning, taking time out of what you're doing to answer a text completely throws off your work-groove. One of the key factors to my job is to remain organized and not overlook small details, which is almost impossible to do if you're constantly distracted.

So, fast forward to the current time. I now realize that going out to dinner with someone and leaving your phone on vibrate in your purse so you can spend time with the person you are physically with is the only way to do it. Turning my phone off before meetings is something that I just do automatically now. It's not only embarrassing if I forget to turn it off and my ringtone, Tom Petty's "American Girl," goes off during an important meeting, it's just a courteous thing to do.

Oh, and if you text or call me for personal reasons during the work hour, you shouldn't plan on getting a response. Don't take it personally, but I realized that my productivity skyrockets when I'm not recapping the Bachelorette or making small talk. Plus, I love my job and I plan on sticking around for a while.

...unless you're my Mom. Even as a Young Professional, I will still always take calls from my Mom.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On Thin Ice...Literally.

Before I update you on my current, sunny, busy Traverse City summer, I should bring you back to the chillier months of winter and let you in on a little secret:

The hardest part about moving to the North is not having to get used to thicker socks, it's not having to adjust to a post-college life or even leaving behind all of your friends and's driving in the snow.

I will be the first to admit that I'm not the best driver. While I am a safe driver, I tend to be impatient and may have a slight case of road rage when the individual in front of me forgoes using his or her blinker. However, driving in snow...and having to learn to do so at the age of terrifying. In fact, my first attempt resulted in me drifting into an intersection and stopping traffic because the term "pump your brakes" was not yet a part of my vocabulary.

Nonetheless, I survived and became a much more cautious and patient driver in the process (which is extremely convenient since I have come to realize that there is a 90% chance that driving down Front Street during the National Cherry Festival will take me at least 20 minutes instead of the usual 3).

Which leads me to the point of this blog post: Acclimating to a new life in a brand new town/state/etc. is a process. At first, you feel completely out of your element. After a couple weeks, you understand the best way to scrape the ice off of your windshield and you feel a little better. True, there are bound to be roadblocks (that lovely 48 hour snowstorm, for example. I have never been so thankful for candlelight and dry cereal before), but once you get through them, you're right back on the path you were taking in the first place.
This is the snowstorm I'm referring to...Ick.
I'm not trying to say that I'm completely settled and consider myself to be a "local," but I'm well on my way. Now that it's summer and I'm back in my short-sleeved shirt element, I feel a little more like myself. Having the chance to attend so many events and networking opportunities (In fact, I'll be attending the Young Professionals Social Event at the National Cherry Festival Beer and Wine Garden tonight if you want to stop by and say hello!) makes me positive that this amazing, thriving city is where I'm meant to be.

Just like turning on your car in winter and letting it run for a minute to help defrost your windows, it takes a while to warm up to things. I'm getting there...and I'm going to show snow-driving whose boss this upcoming winter.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Guest Blogger: Brett McGreaham

As I mentioned in the first post, the first post of every month will feature a Young Professional guest blogger! As much as I enjoy telling you all about my life and experiences here, allowing you to read what some other individuals have to say is an excellent way to really get to know the "voice"of your Traverse City Young Professional population.

Brett McGreaham, TCYP Chair.

Our First Guest blogger is Traverse City Young Professional's Chair, Brett McGreaham. I'll let him take it from here:

As a Traverse City native, it seems that after high school, most people are eager to leave the “land of cherries” for places that are more fun, more interesting and more ripe with opportunity.  I will admit - I was one of those people. I will also admit that I was an idiot.

For the past ten years, I’ve had the opportunity to live all over the world and there is no place like Traverse City.  I’ve been back in Michigan for almost two years now and I couldn’t be happier.  The sense of community within this region is phenomenal.  The support from local business and citizens for projects, initiatives and each other is unprecedented.  There are festivals of every shape and sort.  The food is second to none.  It is safe, beautiful and full of people who love life.

So, why would anyone want to move away from this northern Michigan utopia?

I have a few ideas. 

First: many people don’t realize how much this region offers until they live somewhere else.  Moving to another place makes you miss all of the things you once took for granted, such as a commute along Lake Michigan or not having to worry about your car being broken into.  Being away and experiencing a different lifestyle is necessary for most people.  As I get older, more and more people are starting to make the move back to northern Michigan because the quality of life is unbeatable.

Second: historically, Traverse City has not been a good place to launch a career.  Luckily, that is changing.  With recent changes in demographics and Michigan business laws and taxes, the region has become much more favorable for starting or joining a business.  Through a little bit of networking and some leg work, I bet there is a job in the region that aligns with any young person’s career goals.  Having trouble hooking up with the right person? Get involved with a local organization that can help you navigate the local landscape (I hear the Young Professionals are good at this…).

Third: young people want to be around other young people.  Ten years ago, I would’ve said that Traverse City was mediocre at best for a young, diverse and culturally rich environment.  Not a weekend passes now without hundreds of young (and older) people celebrating something that the region has to offer (i.e. wine, music, art, water).  As more and more young people move back, this cultural scene is only going to grow.  There is literally something for everyone.    

I know that my list of ideas is only three-strong.  And, I have no doubt that there are other reasons for people moving away from Michigan.  But, what it comes down to is this: Traverse City is not what it used to be.  It still has all of the water, cherries and tourists that have been around for years, but gone are the days of your typical resort town.  The young demographic in the region is growing and with it comes even more opportunities for both work and play.  Cheers to that and cheers to Traverse City!

Have you recently moved back to the region? Tell us your story in the comments below!