We pride ourselves on the years of experience most of our consultants have, but we know we also need employees with fresh perspectives. NextCen is one way we reach young workers.
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are an important part of our culture. Runners, book lovers and environmentalists all find homes alongside Modern Software Delivery experts, innovation gurus and employees dedicated to making new hires feel welcomed.
Our chosen collaboration platform, Microsoft Teams, makes it easy to create groups of employees with similar interests or backgrounds. Still, attracting employees — especially young professionals — is tough in today’s environment. Our recruiters struggle with macroeconomic forces and our consultants’ average of 15 years of experience. At the same time, young professionals preparing to enter the market struggle to find employers who align with their values and give them opportunities to get to know their peers, especially in remote environments.
Recently, a group of young employees in our Cincinnati business unit came up with a novel way to both make Centric more attractive to young professionals and provide opportunities for those already on board. Building on the ERG model, they created a group called NextCen. NextCen not only gives younger employees chances to meet each other but sends a strong message outside the company that we take younger people seriously and want them to feel welcome here.
“Navigating the early parts of your career can be difficult,” says Sean McLeod, a Data Analyst for our Cincinnati practice and leader of NextCen. “As a young professional, you are trying to understand your new responsibilities and grow your network, all while trying to find a sense of belonging and satisfaction from your job.”
NextCen had its company-wide debut at our Spring Meeting. Held in Cincinnati in March 2022, a NextCen happy hour gave nearly 50 young professionals from across the company a chance to meet and mingle. Since then, NextCen hubs have sprouted in Columbus and virtually, led by our young professionals in Boston.
Like Centric itself, NextCen is a hybrid experience. Virtual meetings and game nights mix with in-real-life events, such as networking events in Columbus and Boston, which allow members to practice networking in a safe space, surrounded by friends and coworkers. Other events offer chances for learning as members discuss — virtually or in person — topics relevant to people who are early in their careers or want to talk over other topics that can help our company.
“Columbus and Boston have done a great job organizing and attending networking events,” McLeod says. “They have also generously shared group tips and best practices, which has helped our NextCen group as a whole.”
Of course, NextCen is not all about work. A NextCen member in Cincinnati even recently hosted a cookout at their house. And, NextCen also looks for ways to get involved in communities, such as Adopt-a-Highway programs and food drives.
“We are so blessed to have a way for our young professionals to come together to learn, socialize and connect,” says Marketing Coordinator and NextCen-Cincinnati member Tim Bresnehan. “It makes our work more meaningful and helps us navigate the early parts of our careers confidently.”
For McLeod, NextCen is an opportunity for everyone at Centric — and young job seekers.
“People looking for work should prioritize finding an employer that has a group for young professionals,” he says. “You deserve to be in a place that will invest in you, and your employer will benefit, too!”