The View From Here

Rising to Success

Written by: developer

If you told me nine years ago, that after graduating from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, I would be working for the Space Foundation and organizing New Generation programs for young professionals in the space industry, I would have told you to keep dreaming!

As a young graduate, it was hard to imagine where my career would take me and what opportunities would be afforded to me. But each opportunity led me to my current position as Space Foundation Director – Program Initiatives. In addition to leading our New Generation Initiatives, I coordinate and manage a wide range of Space Foundation activities, including program content for major events, our prestigious space awards program, customer engagement with international delegations and VIP guests at our annual Space Symposium and the special purpose volunteers who help us accomplish our mission. Throughout the year, I support the senior leadership team on a number of efforts in support of our strategic plan.

While those of us in the space industry cannot predict where our inspirations and passions will take us, we can agree that no other enterprise enables us to reach for the stars. The space industry is built on historic human achievements, all connected through STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. Our industry will continue to make a positive impact on mankind for the foreseeable future, but it’s up to us who work in the industry to ensure we are building a strong foundation. Young professionals today will undoubtedly become the leaders of tomorrow. So, how can we work together to create the workforce of the future?

Recognizing what motivates and inspires young professionals is the first step in investing in the future and helping the New Generation rise to success.

Members of the New Generation want to learn and be inspired. Providing a mentor for each young professional is vital. Not only can a mentor aid in skill development and career advancement, but having a role model helps drive and motivate a young professional to continue developing their talents throughout their career. Integrating young professionals with experienced leaders in the workplace will allow for active engagement, collaboration and the development of a thriving space industry.

Young professionals today want a challenge — they want a job that will test them in exciting ways and that will also utilize their education and expertise. Providing continued opportunities for personal and professional growth through collaborative projects, conference participation, young professional organization involvement, workshops and networking events is a necessary step in developing skills that will propel the industry. It is also important to recognize individuals for their achievements and successes, as they take advantage of the opportunities given to them.

Work Culture
Recognize that the New Generation wants flexibility in work hours, schedule and a diverse work environment in order to meet the ideal balance. Since many have grown up with technology all around them, they also expect that same innovation in the workplace. Establishing a work-life balance will help young professionals value their position and develop a sense of stewardship toward their organization.

Investment and Commitment
We must make a concentrated effort to be committed and invested in the growth of our future workforce. We are striving to create a workforce that is well-prepared, innovative and driven, and we can all be role models. The flip side to this is each young professional must also recognize that they must invest in themselves first by working hard for the role they aspire to play in the success of their organization.

The Space Foundation plays an active role in supporting the growth of young professionals through its New Generation program. The program was founded in 2008 as a forum to foster meaningful, long-term peer relationships between space professionals aged 35 and younger, and to provide access to top space leaders and opportunities for individual career development and mentorship.

Recently, we held a New Generation team building event at our Discovery Center, located in Colorado Springs, Colo. Attendees were challenged to build a spacesuit out of recycled materials, drive a Mars rover across our simulated Martian terrain and test their knowledge of the space industry through group trivia. Bringing these young professionals out of their work environments and into a collaborative group setting created the opportunity for personal growth, relationship building, networking and team building.

Our exciting and energetic New Generation programs provide access to top space leaders, perspectives on industry developments and global space initiatives, insight into science, policy and space issues, and extraordinary networking opportunities. New Generation Initiatives include both stand-alone events and targeted programs in conjunction with major space activities and conferences such as the Space Symposium.

To learn more, please visit our New Generation webpage here.

This article is part of Space Watch: August 2017 (Volume: 16, Issue: 8).