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City Workers Show Their Age At Youth-Focused Happy Hour

Philadelphia's under 30 population has increased, according to the latest US Census numbers, and our municipal workers reflect the new face of Philly. "I am one of many people who are young and have come into city government in the last couple of years," says Katherine Gajewski, Director of the Mayor's Office of Sustainability. Gajewski teamed up with Assistant Finance Director Maia Jachimowicz to kick off a professional development program for all the twenty and thirty somethings who live in and work for the city.

2010 Census data shows that in Center City East, the population in general is up 5,000 since 2000. In southwest Center City, 20- and 30-somethings make up 65 percent of residents, and Northern Liberties saw an increase of 77 percent for incoming young adult residents. People in their 20s and 30s now make up the majority of residents in six areas: Manayunk, Northern Liberties, Southwest Center City, University City, Center City, and Fairmount/Spring Garden. That is gradually being reflected in the city's government workforce.

On July 14, Gajewski and Jachimowicz co-hosted the Young(ish) City Government Workers' Happy Hour at Time, a centrally located bar in Midtown Village. Gajewski originally sent out an invitation via email to a few dozen contacts, asking recipients to forward to colleagues. She estimates that several hundred people showed up, exceeding her expectations many times over, proving that there is a strong networking desire among the city's newest employees who "are at a unique point of their careers, for the most part entering their first government jobs," says Gajewski. "The range of expertise and experiences in the room blew me away."

The happy hour is the first step in a larger program set to include professional development training.

"There is a certain perception and stereotype of city workers, and it's not true across the board at all," she says.

The happy hour was filled with hip, young, bright and enthusiastic people, the kind of crowd you would see at any popular spot, mingling and connecting. When building a career, "you have to be pretty deliberate, meeting other people, thinking about how you can grow your expertise, and these things don't happen on their own," says Gajewski.

After Tuesday's success, the professional development project is set to include a speaker series, workshops, a listserv, as well as more social outlets like a sports team and more happy hour get-togethers. Gajewski says next steps include seeking funding and partnerships from area institutions.

SUE SPOLAN is Innovation and Jobs News editor for Flying Kite. Send feedback here.
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