In my adventures after college graduation, I needed something to fill my time both socially and productively. I had heard a lot about the meetup.com app and website where users can create groups and events, and decided to give it a try. I completed an account and took a look at the events in my area. In the central New Jersey area where I live, there were a lot of hiking clubs. This is where I started.
Immediately, Meetup provided me with a way to explore my hometown and home area in a completely new way. I was introduced to people and trails that I had never heard of before. Thanks to Meetup, I found plenty of new hiking areas around me. This helped me get outside and active, but also become more social.
What does Meetup have to offer?
Each group I joined introduced me to even more groups. From my first hiking club, one specifically for 20s and 30s members in my area, I met a woman who also ran a book club that met at a local Panera. It did not take long for me, a long-running book devourer, to join. One Tuesday a month, we met to discuss new books, typically fiction that spoke to the female, 20s and 30s audience. Many of them ended up being from Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club.
Another club I joined was called the “Wining Women”, ha ha. It was a group of women in their twenties and thirties who go together to drink wine or hang out at other fun events like bowling alleys and axe throwing. My first event in this club was at SM23, a hidden gem of a cocktail bar in Morristown, NJ. We shared stories of work, listened to music, and got creative drinks at the funky bar.
Through my book club I was introduced to yet another book club, this one a more personal theme–each month, we met at a member’s house, and each participant was charged with bringing a home-cooked dish relating to a chosen theme. We brought “food that reminds you of the water,” for Where the Crawdads Sing, and “southern food” for the Georgia-set An American Marriage. Our conversations hit deep into the meanings of the books, and friendships were forged. This club even inspired an article that I wrote for The Attic on Eighth about pairing books with food.
What does this have to do with a career?
All of these clubs have provided opportunities not only for friendship but networking and professional development, as well. I gained contacts in fields that I was looking for jobs in, particularly higher education and publishing, and receiving great help on applications from the willing and selfless new friends. They also inspired me to get outside, and gave me a schedule to make up for a lack in productive use of time.
I enjoyed these clubs so much that I have since started my own in a way. I have begun teaching basic knitting skills to members of my original book club. This is something that has, as well, encouraged me to break out of my shell and taught me valuable skills.
Have you ever tried meetup.com? What did you think?