Young Professionals Institute takes shape in new virtual offering

3 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — It was just a few sessions into last year’s Young Professionals Institute when the pandemic shuttered businesses and altered gatherings. And even though organizers thought the institute could pick back up in a few months, it was obvious a new online format was necessary, Kim Jones, University of Maine at Presque Isle director of Employer U, said.

After several months of brainstorming and discovering new ways to create an engaging interactive online experience, Jones said the Steering Committee is poised to offer the institute’s first virtual eight-week institute with participant nominations now open. 

“I’m pretty excited,” she said about the new format. “We can add more participants with this format. We used to [admit] 20, now we can take 32. And we are not limited by location.”

YPI is a partnership between the University of Maine at Presque Isle and MMG Insurance and will run from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Employer nominations are due by Wednesday, March 31. 

“We’re encouraging employers from any location to consider nominating an employee, now that travel is no longer a barrier,” Jones said. “This program provides a unique and tremendously valuable experience that better positions participants for long-term career success”

This year’s 90-minute sessions will utilize Zoom and other online training tools, according to Jones, who was actually a participant in the first Young Professionals Institute, 13 years ago.

The theme of this year’s institute is resilient leadership and a focus on thriving in an ever-changing reality. And every week participants will hone their professional skills through virtual activities and business simulation exercises.

Topics will include personal and professional wellness, relationship building, communication, sustaining and strengthening organizational culture, decision making, goal setting and change management. 

“All of these topics will include an emphasis on leadership in both virtual and physical environments,” Jones said. “Every year we have a different theme and we are constantly assessing what employers need … in the middle of a pandemic, we realized you have to learn how to thrive in an ever-changing reality. 

“There are differences in leadership in  the virtual and physical environments,” she added. 

The Steering Committee — Jones, an MMG Insurance member, university representatives, an A.R. Gould member, a Cary Medical Center representative, Katahdin Trust and past participants — will select the new participants from the nominations.

They seek a diverse group from various professions and positions and ages and experience levels, according to Jones.

“Every week they are learning from someone different,” she said.

The online nomination/application form is now available. A $250 registration fee, paid by course participants or their business sponsors, is due by Friday, April 9. 

The people selected for last year’s institute will receive priority in the nomination process as YPI 2020 was unable to happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For information about the short course, which is not being offered for academic credit, visit or contact Jones at 207-768-9459 or