Behind the Music: Young Professionals Summit Edition

This is the story of one of InterAction’s premier tracks at Forum 2016. The Young Professional (YP) Summit shines a spotlight on one of Forum’s most interesting and diverse groups.  Let’s hear the story of how it happens.

Last year was my first InterAction Forum.  I’d heard from colleagues and members about workshops, plenaries, and, of course, the Gala Banquet, but what I was anticipating most was the Young Professionals Summit. I had helped coordinate the Summit – brainstorming sessions and recruiting speakers. I worried about who would come, if the speakers would show up and if young professionals were even interested in the same things as me. Luckily, the 2015 Summit went off without a hitch, and this year is going to be even better.

So what makes the 2016 YP Summit a can’t-miss event?

1. It is of, by, and for young professionals

Being a young professional in the international development and humanitarian sector is unique – not many of my friends outside of the sector have to wonder if they should be getting field or HQ experience and whether a MA, MSc, MPH, MBA, and/or JD are the best letters to have attached to their names. Every year, about six months before the Forum, a group of young professionals meet to talk about the challenges we’re facing in our own lives and how we can create Young Professionals Summit workshops to talk about those issues.

The Young Professionals Summit is a great opportunity to tap into our collective experience, and learn from each other and experts in our field to set us on a path to success.

2. It is actually interesting

I’ve sat in endless conferences where the presenter lectures on and on, not realizing that the participants are barely able to stay awake. The YP Summit is not that kind of conference – there won’t be a 75 minute diatribe completely unrelated to the topic, and there won’t be anyone hiding in the back corner wishing they weren’t there. We favor interactive sessions and a safe space for real talk. So far no one has needed to force their eyes open, which we think is a good sign.  

3. There will be networking. And it will be okay.

The dreaded word of conferences. No one likes forced conversation and small talk (and if you do, teach me your ways) but being a young professional at the Forum is one of the best chances you’ll have to network with some of the top names in our sector. The YP Summit speakers, moderators, and lunch buddies are an impressive bunch and they’ve already agreed to chat with us.

And the best part is, in my experience, our speakers and other Forum participants love to offer advice, share their experience, and do what they can to inspire the next generation.

Still not convinced?

Here’s one more bonus: the YP Summit is the same day at the Gala Banquet. We’ll see you there.

Note: This post was not sponsored by VH1. But there will be a night full of music at the Gala. 

Editor's Note: This blog is part of a month-long series from InterAction staff, highlighting the various opportunities Forum offers to participants.

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