Young professionals are the future of the professional workforce. A Fact Sheet from the Department for Professional Employees (DPE) of the AFL-CIO labor union states they are more likely to be college graduates, work in fast-growing occupations and are racially and ethnically diverse.

In the Quad Cities, more than 115 such young professionals are members of the Prescott Area Young Professionals (PAYP), an organization founded in 2007.

The DPE Fact Sheet presents analysis based on Current Population Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Those young professionals, defined as 24 to 34 years old, are more than 17.2 workers strong, which makes up 28 percent of the professionals in the U.S. workforce.

In the Quad Cities, more than 115 such young professionals are members of the Prescott Area Young Professionals (PAYP), an organization founded in 2007.

“PAYP began with a few local young professionals after seeing successful groups from chambers of commerce in similar communities,” said Megan Smith, PAYP marketing chairperson. “The idea was supported by the Prescott Chamber and in 2011, then-PAYP President Kelly Soldwedel began expanding the organization to partner with the Prescott Valley Chamber and the Chino Valley Chamber. Continued growth from dedicated local young professionals has developed PAYP into what it is today.”

That evolution has included involvement in community projects such as hosting Party In The Pines, an annual benefit supporting the Prescott Unified School District Education Foundation; coordinating an annual golf tournament to benefit Prescott Meals On Wheels; and creating networking opportunities for members.

“Young professionals are invested in our local communities by growing businesses and families, which are impacted by community dynamics and city policies,” Smith said. “It is important to have a group in which young professionals can collaborate with like-minded peers, raise awareness for issues that impact them, and develop a sense of stewardship over their communities.”

PAYP supports professionals ages 21 to 40 by providing networking, education, and service opportunities to impact and give back to our community. “Through these practical opportunities, they are able to continue building leadership and communication skills, ensuring a role in shaping our communities and establishing the next generation of leaders,” she said.

PAYP also has honored young professionals in the Quad Cities with Visionary Awards. This year, eight men and women were so honored.

QCBN asked the awardees for their perspectives about business, life/career success, and thriving in today’s business environment. Among the trends often repeated by young professionals are strong commitments to family, concern for community and the ability to impact the world around them.

Stevie Vawter, office manager for Fann Contracting, Inc. and a 2018 Visionary Award honoree, follows this advice she found on LinkedIn: “Be authentic, find your passion, celebrate your strengths and bring them to the table because you can and will make a difference.” She added, “A successful career is defined as getting to do something each day that brings joy, provides you with a feeling of self-worth and adds value to all aspects your life.”

She stressed the importance of having an employer who fosters leadership and helps build a rewarding career.

“I’ve been inspired by an exceptional leadership team within the company I work for that has shown how a fulfilling career can influence personal life in such a positive way,” she shared. “Learning more about community, civic involvement and philanthropy has transformed the way I raise my children and the life lessons we are instilling as part of our family values.”

Vawter also emphasized the importance of a mentor relationship as an essential element of career success for young professionals. Her mentor is Scott Thomas, equipment manager at Fann Contracting.

“My number one tool/resource is my mentor,” she said. “It is critical for me to be able to collaborate and discuss different things with someone who has experience and insight into business. I rely heavily on the relationship I have with my mentor, keying in on his leadership experience, practical knowledge and industry-specific background. My advice to any aspiring young person would be to seek council from a mentor or join an organization, like PAYP, where you can seek advice and collaborate with other professionals.”

Nationally, young professionals earned an average of $53,192 during 2015, according to the DPE analysis. Average annual earnings that year for a 25-year-old young professional were $43,000, while the average 34-year-old was paid $69,914. The two highest occupations in earnings were legal at $72,886, followed by computer and math at $64,660. The lowest annual earnings among young professionals were in community and social service fields at $35,981 a year.

“An ideal work environment for me is one that provides flexibility in scheduling, company core values similar to mine, a collaborative working environment and options for growth and advancement,” said Vawter. QCBN

By Sue Marceau, QCBN

Photo caption (with Visionary Awards):

Ariana Bennett (far left) and Breeanya Hinkel (far right) of Prescott Area Young Professionals (PAYP) presented the group’s 2018 Visionary Awards to eight local young professionals on January 18. The winners, at center from left to right, are Tyler Goodman, Meghan McAnally, Jill McAdoo, Stevie Vawter, Laura Tulley, Alexis Miller and Grant Quezada. Recipient Holli Maurer is not pictured. Bennett currently is PAYP President and Hinkel was a 2016 Visionary Award recipient.

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