This is a guest post from Sarah Eutsler. She is a freelance writer, the founder & editor of twentysomething Indy, and owner of On a Good Note Designs, an online stationery and gift shop. She’s a proud DePauw grad and active Delta Gamma alumna, serving on the board of the Indianapolis Alumnae of Delta Gamma and as an alumna volunteer for the Purdue and Butler chapters. When she’s not busy running around trying to do everything, she’s fueling her addictions to magazines and How I Met Your Mother or trying to blog here. Don’t be shy! Follow her and say hello on Twitter.
When I graduated from DePauw last year I was prepared for a lot of things: to work, to pay those dreaded bills, to spend weeknights going to bed early instead of doing homework (or splitting pitchers of Blue Moon at the campus bar with a few close friends). What I wasn’t prepared for was the loss of community.
Going to college–especially at a small school–provides an instant group of people sharing a common bond. Your friends become your family as you share meals, cram sessions, and campus events. By the time you graduate you have a well established and comfortable community of people you depend on for socialization and support.
I knew when I got my diploma I would be leaving friends behind as they flocked to different post-grad opportunities. But I thought finding my new community would be as easy as slipping into an entry-level job and establishing my “real life” career. But alas, the economy had other plans, and as I’ve worked toward establishing myself as a freelancer and entrepreneur, it was apparent that finding that post-grad community was going to take more effort than just living in the dorm room across the hall.
Working at home and by yourself definitely takes a toll on the whole social aspect of life. In recent weeks, though, I’ve learned that Indianapolis is truly a great place to find your way and start making connections that will create your community.
In June I checked out Indy Alpha Chicks, an organization for female entrepreneurs and professionals. The women in the group are the definition of go-getters who show genuine interest in each others’ ventures. It’s not just a networking group, but rather a support group for the challenges and successes of being a small business owner. Though I’ve just joined, it’s already proving to be a valuable asset and a stepping stone to forming my professional community.
Finding pockets of your existing community connections also proves valuable, whether alumni networks for your university or organizations you have already established affiliation. I’ve been lucky to have a strong DePauw alumni presence with a variety of events–both social and professional–offered. In addition, getting involved with my Greek organization’s alumnae group has been a way to meet new people, find volunteer opportunities, and have a supportive group of people around.
The best tool, however, has proven to be Twitter. The site is set up as an easy way to interact with complete strangers. Some of those have become friends or professional connections. And if you’re a little on the shy side like me, sending a tweet to someone you don’t know isn’t all that scary.
Overall, Indy is a connected place and the Midwestern hospitality rings true. If I’ve learned anything over the past few months it’s that people want to meet, connect, and talk. They want to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for a few minutes of their time, to have coffee or lunch.
Whether checking out organizations like Indy Alpha Chicks, events like IndyHub Happy Hours, or reaching out to people you want to get to know, lots of great tools exist for developing that post-grad community. It may take some time and I’m still in the process of establishing my new circle, but I’m definitely enjoying the journey.
What ways have you built your community in Indy?