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Five Questions with Mike Cashion, Concord Young Professionals Network

(Check back every Friday to meet someone we think you should know in our new series, Five Questions. -Ed.)

One of the most vital resources to businesses, the entrepreneurial environment, and the economy in general is the young professional workforce. Nationwide, young professionals hold 27 percent of professional jobs and often are motivated by a different set of values than the generations preceding them. They also have a different set of challenges.

Mike Cashion

Mike Cashion

To dig a little deeper into the young professional mindset, we spoke with Mike Cashion, a member of the Concord Young Professionals Network and an advocate for the growth and success of young professionals in New Hampshire.

What’s the state of the state for young professionals in New Hampshire these days?

Here are the positives: If you’re a young professional in New Hampshire who is willing to put the time and effort in, you’ll do well and be sought after, due to the comparatively low population of 20 and 30-somethings. The potential for a ‘seat at the table’ is decent. While New Hampshire is not as sought after as more popular cities for those in their 20s and 30s – like Boston, New York City, Denver and others – the future for New Hampshire could be great … it’s full of opportunity.

Here are the challenges: The largest concentration of young professionals is in southern New Hampshire, where the income potential is highest and the commute to Boston is easier, which can draw young professionals out of state. And it’s still very tough to be the only one at the table under the age of 40 and sometimes 50, because there is a resistance to new ideas and change. This is a challenge for young professionals everywhere.

Can you share a couple of examples of young professionals groups doing awesome things in the state recently?

The Concord Young Professionals Network has brought in anchor tenants to its events. Those are prominent people in the community who are advocates for young professionals, are successful in their careers and want to help facilitate change. CYPN is also heavily focusing on return on investment for its members.

The Manchester Young Professionals Network’s NH Startup Challenge and Corner Office Connections Program are top-notch and put young professionals in front of change-makers.

Fusion, in the Lakes Region, is fairly new to the young professionals realm and is doing a variety of cool events that are outside of the traditional networking activity, like kick boxing, snowboarding/skiing/tubing and more fun stuff that us young people really enjoy.

Finally, Catapult is bringing attention to 10 rising stars under the age of 40 out on the Seacoast with its “10 to Watch.”

What are a couple of the top challenges young professionals are facing right now? What’s keeping them up at night?

For those of us who want to work for other people, it’s finding the opportunities we’d like to have, with the right flexibility or pay grade. Those of us looking to start a new company have hurdles in regard to raising capital, and developing the talent pool is a priority, especially in regard to tech.

Education is extremely expensive in our country at this point and many young people are struggling to make enough to live comfortably without staying with mom and dad or rooming with multiple roommates.

A friend recently shared a very strong opinion that New Hampshire is welcoming to young professionals and yet there seems to be an important opportunity for the university system to offer more support for young professionals before they even enter the workforce.

Also, compared to more urban areas like Boston and New York, New Hampshire’s public transportation system isn’t as viable an option for young professionals.

“You must have a car to be successful here,” as others have told me, as I unlock my bicycle and put on my helmet.

How are young professionals and YP groups supporting the state’s economy?

As young people we want to support local as much as possible. We’re a very entrepreneurial generation. We know there’s no life-long employment moving forward. We’re all entrepreneurs in a sense, and need to support the local shops, restaurants, farmers markets, arts markets, local startups, etc. We’re starting businesses, paying taxes and doing our best to attract our talented friends to the area, and keep our friends from jumping ship and moving elsewhere.

If there’s one message that young professionals most want to get across to older (over 40) professionals, what would it be?

We understand that you have a large amount of experience, and we value your knowledge. Our lives at the ages between 20-40 are much different than yours were (extreme education costs, we’re always on, we have to look ahead or we will fail, we value a sharing economy). If we don’t see a future, we’ll struggle to stick around. Be open to change, mentor us, teach us your ways, and give us an opportunity to be a part of your succession planning.

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