Growing your career at any age
For Schneider, a senior principal engineer in the F135 sustainment program at Pratt & Whitney, an RTX business, one of the group’s main roles is to advocate for employees no matter where they are in their career. The group is creating professional development programs to support young professionals in advancing; help middle managers progress out of what can be known as the “frozen middle” to their next career level; and retain senior employees who have accumulated critical knowledge and experience to share.
Part of that work, Schneider said, is raising awareness of age bias – the belief that the company’s youngest and oldest employees have less to contribute.
“If someone is younger and surpassing performance and leadership skill expectations, there should be a route to growth and advancement. Likewise, senior employees exceeding their own performance expectations should not be forgotten or put to the side,” he said. “Age shouldn’t be a discriminator. It’s important to see all ages at higher levels of leadership.”
While previous iterations of RTX NXGEN focused on young professionals, the group expanded to serve employees of all experience levels in 2022. The community plans to continue the predecessor groups’ focus on in-person social outings to provide opportunities for all employees to broaden their networking skills, meet new colleagues – and, importantly, to have fun.
“The young-professionals employee resource groups started as very social, and we don’t want to lose how it started,” said Schneider.
While informal mentoring is already taking place between members, the community is also creating a formal mentorship program for all levels of employees to share career guidance and promote networking.
Schneider has seen how activities like these helped his own development. After that summer picnic in 2016, he joined the young-professionals group, became a board member and found it was opening new doors for him – particularly when he began looking for a new role within the company.
“Initially it was very challenging, but the second I leveraged my ERG network I was able to have someone advocate for me,” he said. “Soon after, I had two job opportunities to consider, and there began my way to my next career step.”