As BN360, the Partnership’s young professional engagement and development program, kicks off its 2019 programming year, we sat down with Rachael Herrmann, our BN360 Program Manager, to learn more about BN360 and how it can help young professionals throughout the region achieve their professional goals in 2019.
Q: For those who might be unfamiliar, can you give us an overview of BN360?
Rachael: BN360 is a program of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership that’s dedicated to developing young professionals. BN360 is an incredible resource in our region, designed specifically to help young professionals of all stripes—and that includes nurses, teachers, lawyers, marketers, mechanics, you name it—connect, develop, and feel empowered. There are a lot of incredibly talented young people in our region, who are all facing the same challenges and opportunities in the workplace. BN360 provides an avenue for those young people to come together, feel connected, and to work on addressing those opportunities and challenges.
Q: Who is BN360 for?
Rachael: BN360 is designed to best meet the needs of young professionals between the ages of 21 and 40 years old. And there are a couple of points I’d like to explain there:
First, that represents a diverse age range, and the people who fall into that range are facing a variety of circumstances. For example, they could be a recent college graduate or someone who has completed a trade program—both of whom are just entering the workforce. Or they could be someone who is farther along in their career and looking for ways to advance in their organization, someone who is considering going back to school, or someone who is rejoining the workforce after some time away. Through feedback and a general awareness of these differences, BN360 works to meet each person where they are professionally. Our content and programming offers something for everyone.
Second, many young people are hesitant to consider themselves “professionals,” because that can be an intimidating term. We consider any worker to be a professional—whether that person is a teacher, a machinist, an accountant, a medical technician, or works in some other field. We’ve found that no matter what industry you are in, the needs and wants are the same in terms of professional development. Young professionals are looking for ways to master soft skills, understand how to overcome workplace challenges and create opportunities, and how to advance in their careers.
Q: How do young professionals join BN360?
Rachael: We offer two kinds of membership. The first is a corporate membership that’s designed to help businesses connect their employees to BN360. And the second is an individual membership that’s designed for anyone who would like their own membership. Our individual membership is a great value—it starts at just $50 for the year.
Q: How does BN360 help young professionals achieve those goals?
Rachael: BN360 hosts more than 18 events every year, open to people who are members of BN360. Our events are almost always 2 hours long and include complimentary refreshments and appetizers, time for networking and making those meaningful connections, an interactive program that lasts between 45 and 60 minutes, and time for questions. Some of our events, like today’s Kickoff event or our Happy Hour for a Cause events, have a very short program and are purely social. Members don’t need to attend every event—we encourage everyone to come to the events that make the most sense for them.
Q: Can you give us an overview of the events that BN360 will hold in 2019?
Rachael: We’ve got an exciting year lined up. We use feedback from our members and from event attendees to choose topics for each event. This year, we’ll be talking about everything from communication and conflict resolution to ethics and morality in business and even an event that will help attendees learn how to become leaders.
To give you a quick overview, we’re offering a series on personal finance, called Money Matters, with support from Alliance Advisory Group. We’re also offering Skills for Success, a series to help young professionals develop their soft skills, with support from Niagara University. With support from Harris Beach, we’re offering All Rise, a series on business-related legal issues. Our Game Changers series explores exciting developments and changes in the region, and our Tech Talks series will give everyone a deep dive into timely tech topics. Throughout the year, we’ll be hosting Happy Hour for a Cause social events, where attendees get the chance to connect with—and give back to—local nonprofits.
Q: If you could tell a young professional one thing about being in BN360,what would it be?
Rachael: Just one? Don’t be intimidated. The thought of getting involved in a professional development group—or actually attending an event where you may or may not know anyone—can be downright scary. Most of us naturally do not like to put ourselves in situations that push us out of our comfort zone. But the only way to meet new people and work towards accomplishing those professional goals is to put yourself out there. BN360 members want to meet their peers and share their professional trials and triumphs. It’s important for young professionals to remember that they’re not the only one facing a particular issue, feeling a certain way, or going through professional growing pains. New members can always count on me to be there and make introductions.