Lakeland Business Guide 2019 Chamber Guide_2019 - Page 62

EMERGE, meeting someone new can often be intimidating, especially when a main goal may be to leave a lasting impression. “So you build that network, and now you all together can go to a Chamber event or volunteer event or whatever it may be, and you’re going to be more comfortable meeting those owners or those managers and maybe get a job out of it,” says Hamid. Along with an expanded network, the connection with the Chamber is also greatly beneficial as it resources EMERGE leaders with helpful tools through a number of programs and events. The Chamber’s annual programming better prepares professionals in their careers, and EMERGE has come alongside these initiatives to make them accessible to young professionals as well. “We hold multiple events every month, and one of the things we started last year was subsidizing some professional development,” says Hamid. Another unique program is EMERGE Serves, which is designed to give comprehensive training for professionals interested in community service. “[EMERGE Serves] teaches us the value of building a board that has different perspectives to help determine better direction for the future,” says Hamid. This 12-hour course details the fundamentals behind effective board service. The program is taught by well-respected community leaders and nonprofit directors from a diverse range of backgrounds and professions. At the end of the program, participants are to complete service résumés that will be used to match them to agencies and volunteers for board service opportunities. In addition to better preparing young professionals with connections and leadership skills that will serve them throughout their professional careers, EMERGE also facilitates events such as the Polk Emerging Leaders Awards (PELA) to continue to connect with other professionals and celebrate the significant contributions made by young leaders to our community. This annual event is a collaborative project partnered with the Winter Haven Chamber’s young professional group, Endeavor, and the Bartow Chamber’s young professional group, Engage. “At Polk Emerging Leaders Awards, we’re saying ‘look at our members who are doing a lot. We want to recognize you,’” says Hamid. Along with providing another networking opportunity, the recognition given at this event inspires other young professionals to give of their time and resources to serve their local communities. EMERGE believes greatly in instilling into young professionals an appreciation for volunteerism and philanthropy. “We participate in volunteer opportunities with local nonprofits,” says Hamid. Among these nonprofits are VISTE, Big Brother Big Sisters, American Cancer Society, Central Florida Speech and Hearing, and many more. No matter what you’re interested in, EMERGE provides countless opportunities for young professionals to grow. “You can start getting experience in leadership roles before you’re on a board, before you get that position at work,” says Hamid. “So, truly, from meeting people your age to developing yourself as a leader, to then finding successful positions utilizing the talents and résumé builders within Lakeland — that keeps you here, engaged, and holds the talent.” 62