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Young professionals are changing the workplace

Becca Oken-Tatum, web editor for Central Penn Business Journal, will be steering CPBJ's Young Professional e-newsletter when it launches next month. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

I often feel like my conversations with other young professionals in Central Pennsylvania come back to a common theme: how connected we all are – electronically, but, more importantly, as a community.

That connectedness in turn weaves a common thread through the work we all do in the region, whether we work in media or government or own a small business. I’ve reported about a range of topics from the revitalization of rural Perry County to makerspaces that bring tech to the masses. By the end of most of my conversations, I find I’m talking about a shared goal: to connect people across Central Pennsylvania.

Despite that hopeful spirit, young professionals – by which I mean people ranging in age from their early 20s to under 40 – still sometimes get the short end of the stick. Like other generations, we’re compared to our predecessors, who lived and worked in a world that no longer exists. We’ve been over-simplified and generalized as addicted to technology and lacking motivation and work ethic. Economic uncertainty has left us financially unstable.

The reality is that these nuanced changes in the workplace have ushered in a new era in how Americans work: we’re more connected than ever, which means we can accomplish more than ever. A post-Great Recession economy has left young professionals rethinking how they make their livings, the value of their work and traditional workplace culture.

Just based on numbers alone, young professionals – made up of people from both the millennial and Gen Xer generations – are a force to be reckoned with. According to a 2017 report from the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees, young professionals made up 28 percent of the professional workforce in 2016.

At the Central Penn Business Journal, we realized that young professionals in Central Pennsylvania are a dynamic and emerging part of the region’s workforce. We take on leadership roles in our companies, innovate and collaborate with our entrepreneurialism, work to build up our communities and prove that the workplace of the future is ripe with possibility.

Our annual Forty Under 40 celebration is the quintessential celebration of that spirit. We’re taking the excitement, passion and sense of purpose that Forty Under 40 embodies and bringing it you every month.

Come February, we’re launching the first edition of our monthly Young Professionals e-newsletter, where we’ll focus on issues and trends important to young professionals in Central Pennsylvania. We’ll also feature conversations with local young professional leaders from a range of fields who are working toward a better Central Pennsylvania and happenings around the region.

We work in offices and cubicles, from the comfort of our homes or the warmth of coffeeshops, in co-working spaces and startup incubators. We dress up, we dress down, we have piercings and tattoos. We connect on LinkedIn, we chat over lunch, we meet in conference rooms and over drinks. Our companies host yoga classes and community service days, professional training and networking events. They dedicate time and resources to diversity and inclusivity. They realize that a healthy work-life balance and happy workplace culture go hand-in-hand with productivity and success.

Simply put, young professionals are flipping convention on its head and proving what can be accomplished in a more connected – electronically and face-to-face – workplace.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Young Professionals newsletter, email me at [email protected]. You can also find me on LinkedIn. Look out for a CPBJ Young Professionals Facebook group, coming soon!


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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