True Life: I Became a YNPN Board Member

When I joined INROADS at the tender age of 24, I found myself to be the youngest person on my team, in my region, and in my entire company … for two and a half years. Full of promise and energy, all I needed was good professional soil and the right chance to prove myself. I had a strong and supportive boss, and my team was diverse by culture and career experience. But I was inevitably met with generational prejudices of being The Token Millennial.

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My methods and work ethic were at times questioned, my interests were occasionally met with a “wait until you get older” jibing, and I often found more comfort on the college campuses where I recruited than at a glossy wooden table with my national director or CEO.

Because of my company’s coast-to-coast lean staff structure, there were no “afterwork” drinks or staff Christmas parties for me. With an uber-limited budget, and often operating as a “team-of-1”, professional development training was only a dream. But I excelled, trudging against generational stereotypes to become “The Best”, managed by becoming a workaholic. I was promoted to become the national marketing manager in less than two years.

Do I mean any of this to be a heartfelt diatribe? Not at all! Enter YNPN…

Excelling at work, but with much room to grow, I wanted the chance to move beyond networking and work with people who were much like me – young, gifted, and driven leaders. After some initial hesitation, I joined the YNPN board as the communications chair and learned a lot in a little time. But now that i’m relocating to Atlanta, I must profess why joining Orlando YNPN was one of the best professional decisions I’ve made.

YNPN made me face my fears of Leadership.

I know that I’m a leader, but I wanted a worthy experience that would prove it to myself, and to others. I wanted to graduate from “paper pusher” to thought leader, but feared the baptism by fire that comes through new trials and impending errors. Before joining the Board, I questioned “Can I do this? What if I make a big mess? What if I don’t do enough? What if i’m really not as good as I think?” But at the end of the What If’s, I took the step to get the professional experience and practice that i’d wanted all along, and found that I had plenty to offer, and was supported to grow.

YNPN gave me the opportunity work with skillful peers.Pic 2

I strongly believe that birds of a feather flock together, but I was still pleasantly surprised and impressed by the board and committee members. Rising stars on their jobs, young entrepreneurs who’ve started their own non-profits, former Peace Corp volunteers…I’d found my tribe! A rising tide lifts all boats, and I knew at once that I was in good company.

YNPN Supported my Individual Growth

I was the keynote speaker for a business event in May. You know who was there? YNPN board members, that’s who! In joining the board, I gained professional peers, and I gained a support system.

YNPN Taught Me People Management

Receiving the word manager in a job title doesn’t mean you automatically learn how to manage a team of people. I want to be an effective leader of people, and accepted the YNPN opportunity to acquire this new professional skill. Working with YNPN gave me the chance to exercise examples of great team leadership that i’d seen, while avoiding the poor.

My short tenure with YNPN has been exactly what I’d hoped it would be – a chance to try on the senior leadership hat in a safe place and with a strong team, to find that the hat (and shoe) fits. If you aspire to be a senior business leader in any function or industry, try your hand with a board position today. Click here to apply for the Communications Chair position: 2014-2015-ynpn-orlando-mid-year-vacancy-application-communications.pdf!

Danielle McKinley

Danielle McKinley

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