Empowering the future leaders of STEM:

How the Early Career Network is helping young public servants succeed

November 30, 2018— Ottawa, Ontario

NRConnect Poster: NRConnect is a mini-conference hosted by the Early Career Network biannually.

A key goal of the National Research Council of Canada's (NRC) Aerospace Research Centre is to advance scientific knowledge in order to stimulate innovation, enhance our capabilities and sustain our relevance as a knowledge generator. Not only do we share our knowledge outwardly with industry and academia, but we also do this inwardly – by providing the opportunity to grow and learn from each other by exchanging ideas among colleagues.

One successful example of our approach is the Early Career Network (ECN), a collective of early career employees, visiting workers and students from the NRC's Aerospace Research Centre. This network provides a platform to support NRC employees through the early stages of their working lives. This grassroots initiative grew from the efforts of one young researcher who had a vision for a supportive, inclusive and diverse network to help navigate the challenging transition from academic study to the work environment. With strong support from the Aerospace Research Centre's management team, he launched the Early Career Network in March 2017. Since then, the network has expanded under the direction of six highly motivated members who form an executive team tasked with organizing networking activities. The ideas behind the Early Career Network are quickly expanding across the entire NRC and have inspired similar initiatives.

The primary objective of this network is to empower the young public servants of today in order to develop strong leaders for tomorrow. With this goal in mind, ECN has focused its attention on three main areas:

  • Providing opportunities for early-career employees to connect and collaborate with the rest of the organization in an inclusive environment where everyone's voice is heard and appreciated
  • Providing mentorship opportunities so that early career employees can benefit from the one-on-one guidance of an experienced advisor
  • Providing a platform for external networking and collaboration where early-career employees from the NRC's Aerospace Research Centre have the opportunity to establish relationships with colleagues in academia, industry and other research centres around the world.

Professional development sessions for young professionals hosted by the Early Career Network.

The Early Career Network organizes internal events such as mini-conferences and public presentations by distinguished speakers. In addition, it recently developed NRCareer, a new mentorship program. On the international scene, the network is a key player in running a parallel network with the International Forum for Aviation Research (IFAR) which consists of 26 member nations from organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA - USA), the German Aerospace Center (DLR - Germany), the French Aerospace Lab (ONERA-France) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The success of the Early Career Network and its operating model has inspired and impacted other grassroots networks within and, more important, beyond the NRC. Now, dynamic, driven, young public servants are reaching the next generation of international academics, empowering the world's future leaders in science and technology.

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