Photo: Twenty20 / @bradneathery

By Stephen Silver

For Elizabeth Menna and Dedra Totin, two young women who work in the technology sphere, being a young person in today’s business world is both tricky and rewarding.

“It means a lot of things to me,” Menna said. “I think young professionals can sometimes get a bad rap… but it’s almost an empowering term for me because I know how motivated my peers and I are. Even though they may be younger, I always see them doing huge things, and always being the first ones to volunteer to do pretty much anything, take ownership, and really show what they can do.”

Totin agrees about the need to get beyond prior conceptions about young professionals.

“The phrase conjures an image, to be sure, but this image seems restrictive and based upon setting parameters: i.e. What is ‘young’ and what is ‘professional,’” she said.

“Ironically, being a ‘young professional’ is the precise opposite of that—it is about breaking down barriers, taking new approaches to situations, and being inclusive. Being a young professional means inspiring change, embracing change, driving change, and doing so in a way that it benefits the greater good. Age is a number, but being ‘young’ is a state of mind.”

Menna, who joined Comcast in July of 2015, works as the Advocacy Engagement Specialist for Comcast’s Corporate Communications division. She also serves as co-lead of Comcast’s Young Professionals Network (YPN), one of the company’s eight Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

Totin, at Comcast since 2015, is the Operations Lead for the company’s Executive Search Team. She works in such areas as candidate experience, process improvement, project management, and operations.

“My career thus far has been extremely fast-paced and very different than what I thought I’d see myself,” Totin said. “I think it’s important to stretch outside of your comfort zone and be adaptable to changes, but not at the expense of following your passions and dreams. I’ve learned more in a few short years than I ever thought was possible. I’m very happy where my career has taken me so far, and looking forward to where it’s going to take me next.”

Menna has worked with the Young Professionals Network since last fall, where she’s the co-lead for marketing and communication.

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“We do everything in terms of communication, from presentations to professional templates. If we have any large events coming up we’ll write all the communications for that. But besides that, I manage a social media group of six people, so we have different people across the company keeping up with what Comcast is doing across the company, as well as what the ERGs are doing.”

YPN has also recently held internal events, including a new monthly speaker series called YPN Tune-In Tuesday, in which Comcast executives speak and answer questions from employees. The first event drew in more than 100 attendees.

“It’s a great place to meet people, it’s a great way to network, and just see what other people are doing in the business.”

The Young Professionals Network has no official age cutoff; like all other ERGs it is inclusive to all. Totin is also involved with a Comcast ERG she is an Ally Co-Lead for the OUT Employee Resource Group.

Every day, Menna brings that youthful outlook to her role in the company.

“When you have a youthful attitude—and I don’t think it necessarily has to do with age—but just having that attitude when you’re willing to do even the work that someone else isn’t, there’s no job that’s too big or too small, and you’re hyper-focused on doing the best job you can, and really bringing the project to life and making it really something.”

Menna has brought that attitude specifically to her role, which entails everything from social media posts to a campaign for a ride-along video for the most recent Fast and the Furious film, and another with the Minions.

“I work in social media, but I also have to be a subject matter expert on everything the company is doing right now. I work on the reputation and advocacy team. It’s brand new, when I was on customer experience I worked on the beta team for it, and we kind of felt it out on social media.”

Where does Menna see her future going?

“I could really see myself going further in the corporate communications field, or being more of an advocate for our emerging technology,” she said.

Totin also sees big things ahead, both for herself and her employer.

“I think it’s the best time to be [at Comcast] right now,” Menna added. “It’s a super exciting time for the company.”