When Juan Diego Paredes joined the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Young Professionals (BWHYP) Board more than two years ago, he had no idea the influence it would have on his career.
A volunteer-based employee resource group (ERG), the board hosts professional development opportunities, networking events and social gatherings for early-career Brigham staff. From community service outings to career workshops to trivia nights, the ERG offers employees a chance to explore areas of interest and pursue professional and personal growth. There is no age limit for membership.
“Two years ago, I would not have been able to lead events, speak in front of crowds or be a project coordinator,” said Paredes, a project coordinator in Ambulatory Services who now volunteers as professional development coordinator of the BWHYP Board. “I am so far removed from how reserved I used to be. It’s amazing to look back and see that if I had not taken this chance with the Young Professionals, things may not have turned out like this.”
One way Paredes was able to build connections was through a series the group hosts called “Coffee With.” Held every two months, the event offers a relaxed setting to meet one-on-one with Brigham leaders who share their own career paths, how they overcame professional barriers and their advice for those starting out.
Hearing from Timothy Ewing, PhD, vice president of Employee Diversity, Inclusion and Experience, during his “Coffee With” event inspired Paredes to explore opportunities that seem out of reach. With that advice in mind, Paredes recently pursued his current role in Ambulatory Services, which he discovered after networking with his new supervisor, a former BWHYP committee member.
To Paredes, the group is not only important to him as a young professional but also as a member of the Latino community.
“Oftentimes, minorities are fighting against the grain in terms of professional opportunities,” he said. “For me, the Young Professionals is a valuable resource for building connections and harnessing my skills in new ways.”
In addition to the co-chairs, the board consists of five committees: Professional Development, Networking, Sports and Special Interest, Communications and Engagement, and Community Service.
Kelly Peters, a senior program manager in the Department of Quality and Safety and co-chair of BWHYP, said community service events provide a chance to meet other young professionals and network while also giving back.
“Participating in community service events routinely can be valuable to young professionals trying to find where they fit into both the Brigham community and the community we serve,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to work with new people and identify your niche.”
The different committees play a role in building personal relationships by connecting members with social activities, such as intramural sports and Brigham-themed trivia nights.
“Starting a career can be overwhelming, and surrounding yourself with people with a similar passion can be valuable to finding your own community,” said Hannah Senftleber, a population health coordinator and BWHYP co-chair.
Paredes said the group continues to look for opportunities to reach new members. This November, the Professional Development committee will host a panel discussion about clinical careers, covering topics such as how to apply for medical school, the day-to-day life as a clinician and the clinical research field.
Looking ahead, Paredes hopes to create an even more inclusive environment within Young Professionals so that more early-career Brigham staff can experience the same opportunities he had in the group.
“Seeing my own skills grow and recognizing the opportunities I have been able to create through this group is incredible,” he said.