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Flower buds and blooming friendships bring renewed energy

Spring weather has finally graced Central Pennsylvania with its warm embrace. We can pack this year’s brutal extra-special-long-lasting winter away with our snow boots and wool sweaters.

Every year, I’m amazed how the change in seasons never fails to create a buzz around town, especially in riverfront Harrisburg, close to where the Business Journal’s office is. Co-workers are out on walks by the Susquehanna over lunch, or, better yet, lunch is enjoyed on the outdoor patios of so many local establishments.  

I know it can be hard to stay focused in an office when the sun shining and flowers blooming outside are taunting you from the your window. At least that’s how I feel! I’m privileged to work for a company that acknowledges the importance of employee happiness and well-being, and that getting to enjoy the season is part of that. I hope all of you reading this can make time for that, too.

I’ve also been privileged to connect with some inspiring young professionals over the past couple months who are showing me a whole new side to creating professional relationships, and they’re giving me renewed energy as much as the weather is. As companies and organizations gear up for summer, often a busy time for events, I’ve been inspired as I talk with my peers about what they’ve got up their sleeves and how we can work together.

In this May edition of the Young Professionals newsletter, you’ll find stories about people whose work is as much about inciting change and affecting lives as it is about making a living. LaQuinn Thompson is fulfilling his life’s calling at the St. Matthews’ church youth program, Gabe Bell is disrupting the field of human relations and local artists are rallying around the value of their work and education at HACC. 

I’m also looking forward to sharing with you in June’s newsletter the words of a York young professional named Sharee who is deeply involved in uplifting and supporting her community, and she’s doing it with her own entrepreneurial flair and personality. She and I connected in April after she read my column about diversity. We talked about the blunt truths regarding diverse representation in the business community, and I left our coffee date motivated that our talk about the issue led to a positive step toward fixing it. I felt like, when so many diversity discussions are just lip service, our conversation was a productive step beyond that. Moreover, we laughed and joked along the way.

I recently had lunch with a fellow young professional with whom I had worked on a story for a previous edition of the newsletter. I was so pleasantly surprised when she reached out to follow up after the story was published just to catch up. Our lunch was an opportunity to get to know each other outside of our job titles, no business involved. It was so refreshing to feel like this relationship that started out as a business one had morphed into our connecting over our shared appreciation for Pennsylvania’s natural beauty and laughs about the strange world of social media.

I know I probably sound like a broken record, but I’ll say it again, anyway: Being a young professional today isn’t just about networking happy hours and straight-laced business talk. It’s about genuine connection, real, honest conversations and working toward stronger communities where all voices are heard. The more of you Central Pennsylvania young professionals I meet, the more I am convinced of that truth. If you want to meet up for a walk along the Susquehanna or lunch or coffee at your favorite spot with sidewalk seating, I’m your girl!

Becca Oken-Tatum
Becca Oken-Tatum is the web editor for the Central Penn Business Journal. She also coordinates and writes for CPBJ's monthly Young Professionals e-newsletter. Email her questions, comments and tips at [email protected].

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