For Young Professionals, There’s Never Been a Better Time to Make an Impact

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By Julia Tolstrup

The word “millennial” has had a checkered past. Though still in its youth, the term has often been used to conjure images of an inept generation, the result of helicoptering parents sending their unprepared children out into the big, bad world.

Scratch the surface though, and it becomes quickly apparent that millennials are not just the future of our society by default. In many cases, millennial professionals are embracing their youthful advantages and the unique opportunity that comes with being a generation raised in technology.

Rebekah Castagno and Adwoa Dadzie are two such young professionals in Connecticut. Although their roles are quite different, one taking on the corporate sphere while the other makes the nonprofit world go round, both have distinct worldviews and a seemingly unlimited capacity for optimism and growth.

Adwoa Dadzie is vice president of Human Resources for Comcast Western New England, which currently employs approximately 1,300 people across Connecticut. Dadzie oversees what she calls “the people agenda.” She helps individuals navigate and advance their careers within the company—as well as helping them transition into retirement—and she firmly believes that chronological age has far less to do with success than the ability to remain relevant. In today’s world, technological changes make the ability to constantly update and reinvent our knowledge an imperative. That said, her youthful outlook does perhaps provide an extra dose of creativity and access to innovation.

Dadzie points to social media as one of her generation’s game-changing contributions so far. As a young professional, she can already see how social media has reshaped the landscape of both personal and professional realms. She encourages her friends and family to embrace the technology that will move us all into the future.

To other young professionals just starting out and finding their voice, Dadzie says, “Your perspective is valid and your perspective is needed. That perspective could be the seedling for something great.” Dadzie adds that Comcast encourages young professionals to grow their minds and their careers by joining Employee Resource Groups like the company’s Young Professional Network, which strives to impact innovation, collaboration and exceptional business results by developing future leaders and serving the community.

Differently, Rebekah Castagno heads up the Emerging Leaders Society (ELS) at United Way of Central and Northern Connecticut. ELS gathers around 350 young professionals from companies throughout the Greater Hartford area to participate in community outreach programs. Castagno says what sets ELS apart is their commitment to changing the community through volunteerism.

ELS partners with young professionals from more than 100 workplaces in the area promoting volunteerism for after-school and year-round learning programs for K-8 students in Hartford Public Schools under the mission of “Connect Leaders. Cultivate Relationships. Change Our Community.”

Castagno feels the weight that accompanies the title young professional. “There certainly is a responsibility and sense of expectation that comes with the reference,” she says. “People are watching us, and we have an opportunity to leverage that platform. How we decide to do that within our unique space is up to each individual, nonprofit and corporate alike.”

She knows both the nonprofit and corporate worlds well. Before joining United Way, Castagno worked in the corporate sphere. “It was a big leap, but a welcome shift for me at the time,” she says of the change.

Having worked in and around Hartford for years, Castagno was unaware of the connections being made between professionals and the community. “I was struck by the importance of bridging the communication gap between neighbors who were in a position to help one another.”

Her youthful outlook allows Castagno to take risks and try new things. She sees the unlimited potential within technology and the immediate availability of information and wants to continue tapping in while maintaining a hands-on approach.

“I strongly believe that maintaining the human connection while taking advantage of the rapid advancements in technology creates opportunity for higher impact in less time,” Castagno says. “Our generation may demand it!”

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