For young professionals new to the greater Madison area or looking to network and expand their connections, the Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals will be hosting “Off the Clock: A Young Professional Networking Event” on Sept. 7 at Cafe Coda on Madison’s near east side.
“The purpose of the event is just to get young professionals together and network and get to know each other. We did our first one back in 2021 and that was a success. So we thought, ‘Well, it could be an annual thing,'” Tracy Duval, ULGMYP membership chair, tells Madison365. “With us kind of slowly coming out of the pandemic, we think it’s great timing because the graduate students are coming back and we want to provide a space for young professionals to network.”
The ULGMYP is a voluntary auxiliary group of the Urban League of Greater Madison. Members from the ages of 21-40 come together as community leaders to develop programming to assist in enhancing the Greater Madison area.
The networking event will include an ice breaker, a raffle, prizes, light refreshments and more. During the evening, the Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals (ULGMYP) executive leadership team will be in attendance to discuss their roles and ways to get engaged.
For many young people who are not from Wisconsin who originate from larger cities that are much more diverse, they are used to attending get-togethers with young professionals where people can network and feel included. That’s something they sometimes have trouble finding in Madison.
“In addition to networking, people are looking for colleagues and some people use it for a change of career. Some people use it to find referrals: Who’s your doctor? What’s your go-to grocery store? Which side of town do you live on? People are free to talk about whatever they like and the conversations are more natural, of course, with people around your age and where you are in life. And so we just want to create that space.”
The event is at Cafe Coda, Madison’s premier jazz space located at 1224 Williamson St.
“It’s a unique place because it’s not only African American-owned but the jazz place in greater Madison. It has that sense of intimacy and it’s just so cozy,” Duval says. “The goal is just to get young professionals together to start the fall semester, the fall season, the last quarter of the year, and then, of course, to promote the Urban League of Greater Madison’s mission, and to let them know that there’s a young professional component if you’re passionate about community service, getting people registered to vote and all the other great initiatives that we try to do to provide an inclusive community.”
“When I first moved to Madison, I was looking for space to connect with other professionals and I know someone that’s in Ohio, that’s a [ULGMYP] member, she recommended I look into this organization,” Duval says. “Ever since then, I have just been on board with the organization and I enjoy being the membership chair because I’ve moved quite a few times myself in my life for careers and opportunities.
“So I understand the loneliness when you come into a new space and then having people to take you under your wing and kind of show you around and show you the ropes,” Duval adds. “I think very highly of folks who move away from home for work and school because you sometimes have to do that from time to time to be where you want to be down the road.”
Part of Duval’s job as membership chair is giving a welcoming call to new members when they come on board. “I kind of get them started and tell them how we communicate with one another on our various platforms,” she says. “Nine out of ten times, the conversation is: ‘I’m new to the area for work or for school. I’m just trying to connect.’”
The networking event is free, so greater Madison young professionals from all walks of life are encouraged to attend.
“A young professional for us is 21 to 40. One thing I like about this event is you don’t have to be a member. The intent is for you to get to know us and to know that we’re here,” Duval says. “And when you’re ready to make that commitment, we’ll be glad to have you on … because I know how it is when you’re new and you’re just trying to find the right spaces to move in. This is also an opportunity to get our name out there and brand recognition that we are a vibrant piece of the community. And the fact that we’re slowly getting back to in-person [events], this is more important than ever to do events like this.”
“Off the Clock: A Young Professional Networking Event” will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 6-8 p.m., at Cafe Coda, 1224 Williamson St. Registration is required by Monday, Sept. 5. To do that, click here. If you have any questions about membership or about the networking event, please contact the Membership Chair Tracy Duval at email@example.com.