For many juniors and seniors in college the thought of entering into the “real world” is constantly looming over their heads. Most question what is in store for their future career wise and how to take the steps to get there.

In 2003 EMERGE Lakeland entered the scene in order to help ease the fears of the working world by providing valuable business connections in the Lakeland area.

The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Central Florida realized the need for an organization that helped and supported young professionals in their career endeavors.

The goal of EMERGE, as stated on their website, is “to create a venue for our members to build relationships, develop professionally, become politically aware, philanthropically active and contribute to the economic development and quality of life in Lakeland.”

The 2014 Chair of EMERGE William Link, could not agree more with this mission as he has seen it impact his own life. He was once a young professional looking for a job and EMERGE benefited him in that way.

“EMERGE instantly puts you in contact with over 100 young professionals in Lakeland who at one point in the last dozen years went through the same transitions that college students are getting ready to go through. They provide guidance and possibly jobs leads,” Link said.

EMERGE provides monthly events and workshops that focus on different aspects of the business world and making connections with professionals.

Their latest event was entitled, “Let The Good Times Roll,” which was a membership kick-off event. This event revolved around a Mardi Gras theme with dinner and drinks included for those who were 21 and up.

“The event is meant as a way to introduce people and hopefully get them engaged enough to come back and be a part of our group,” Link said.

An upcoming March event that is relevant to college students is “Scrambled Eggs and Social Media,” which focuses on how social media can make or break your appearance in the business world.

Social events and workshops are held monthly and can be attended by members as well as non-members.

Andrea Merritt, administrative assistant for the Barney Barnett School of Business, encourages students to attend EMERGE events.

“There are young professionals from a lot of different industries, so attending the EMERGE events could help students meet contacts at local businesses that may be able to help them with a job or internship,” Merritt said.

Young professionals can attend EMERGE events for a reasonable price or you can sign up to join as a member.

Former Florida Southern College student JD Arbuckle has attended several EMERGE events.

“I connected with EMERGE to expand my own network and find out how I could help the community too. It’s helped me understand more about what Lakeland has to offer and the opportunities all around us,” Arbuckle.

EMERGE provides valuable information for young professionals whether a student plans to remain in Lakeland after they graduate or not.

EMERGE presents students with the opportunity to advance themselves through networking, professional advice and insightful events that can help them emerge successfully into the business world.