[This is an article I wrote that appeared in the August 4 edition of the Berkshire Business News. See the full PDF here.]
As chair of the Berkshire Young Professionals, I sometimes feel like Sisyphus might have, rolling a giant rock up a hill that never ends. There are hundreds of smart, charming, and compassionate individuals between the ages of 21 and 40 who live and work right here in our beautiful region. These are Berkshire Young Professionals, but many of them don’t know it—yet.
Misconceptions about our group—a volunteer-driven faction of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce founded in 1998—abound. Recently I urged a former high-school classmate to join me at our monthly BYP Networking Social, held after work one weeknight at Rouge Restaurant in West Stockbridge. You know, meet some new people, sample some succulent French fare, sip a glass of robust red?“Eh,” she demurred. “I’m not a professional.”Cue the record scratch.“What do you mean?” I asked, dumbfounded that this intelligent, witty, and confident young lady would utter such blasphemy. Turns out, she didn’t think the label suited her, because—drumroll please—“I’m only a teacher.”According to an informal poll among BYP steering committee members, friends, and Facebook acquaintances, the “I’m not a professional” sentiment is widespread. Perhaps it’s a sneaking suspicion that real professionals wear power suits, carry briefcases, and worship the conference call. Well, take it from me, a dictionary-wielding scribe who often rocks jeans to work: that’s not always the case. The goal of BYP is to foster camaraderie among the younger generations here, link them to the “old guard” so to speak, and enrich our diverse community along the way. Therefore if you grew up in the MTV era, live in the Berkshires, and work in some capacity, we want to meet you.In addition to laid-back mingling, BYP tackles a number of volunteer civic endeavors, fun, of course, always being the common denominator. Case in point: the annual Downtown Pittsfield Corporate Clean-up. In April, a bunch of us played hooky from our jobs one sunny, blustery afternoon to slip on work gloves and rake a few dozen pounds of trash from a three-block section of Fenn Street. Though BYP didn’t win the coveted Golden Trash Bag award, we did play Terminator with a leaf blower and shriek over some seriously shady discoveries while tidying up the city.Next, on Saturday, August 21, BYP channels its inner carpenter by helping to build a house on Lincoln Street in Pittsfield for Habitat for Humanity. Got woodworking- or people-skills? Please donate a few hours of your day to tooling around in the name of a needy family.So: BYP revolves around networking, volunteerism…even shopping! Now in its second year, the BYP Membership Card ($25), which grants free entry to most of our events, also provides some sweet deals (my favorites: a 20 percent midweek discount on pampering at Cranwell Spa in Lenox; half-price small plates on Wednesdays Mission Bar Tapas in Pittsfield; shopping coupons galore from the Prime Outlets at Lee). Let’s face it: many of us are broke. Retailers, restaurants, and cultural organizations realize this, so a select few offer additional markdowns each month; see our advertisement herein for the “Big Four” in August. Go green, buy local, build our economy, and smile: you’re conserving some hard-earned dough just because you’re still young.Despite these and other happenings—career development seminars, which reboot in the fall; our annual BYP Golf Tournament in September; continued partnerships with organizations such as the American Red Cross and Hillcrest Educational Centers—another fallacy endures: that BYP only schmoozes at Happy Hour. Well, we do partner with local eateries and entertainment outfits to host those monthly networking events and our Halloween Bash, a raucous sellout every October. And yes, cocktails are typically present at these functions. All that chatting about how professional or unprofessional we are makes us thirsty.Check us out at the next get-together, on August 26 from 5 to 7 p.m., at Moe’s Tavern in Lee. The funky little joint on Railroad Street maintains a stellar selection of craft beers—a total coincidence, I swear.Amanda Rae Busch is chair of the Berkshire Young Professionals and senior editor of Berkshire Living magazine. Learn more at www.berkshirechamber.com/byp . Amanda represents BYP as a voting member of the Berkshire Chamber’s Board of Directors.
Great article from Amanda about being a Young Professional in the Berkshires!