After graduating magna cum laude from UCCS with a degree in criminal justice, Colorado Springs native Bailey Gonzalez participated in the Quad Innovation Program, a summer program designed to help students adopt the entrepreneurial mindset and learn how to implement it.

Six months ago, as a 23-year-old businesswoman, she became one of the first paid workers of Colorado Springs Rising Professionals. Gonzalez spent time with the Business Journal this week to talk about the networking and leadership group and her role helping young professionals succeed in Colorado Springs.

What business functions do you perform for the Rising Professionals? 

As the administrative assistant, I’m responsible for the day-to-day management of membership, finances and the website. I oversee the communication, implementation, registration and evaluation of our events and programs, as well taking photos of all our events. I prepare for all board and leadership council meetings, the agendas, reports, reminders and meeting packets.

How did your previous work experience prepare you for the job?

My work experience has taught me to adapt when I have limited resources available, how to coordinate events, to multi-task and so many other skills. I don’t know that I could have ever been prepared enough for this job, but I do my best to learn from those who’ve been a part of this organization for years.

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How does the organization help boost businesses and careers? 

We promote other businesses and careers within our organization as much as possible, whether it’s highlighting a member in our e-newsletter or promoting them at our events. Small businesses are crucial to our economy and our community, so when we have the opportunity to promote their business, we’re more than happy to do so.

What other benefits do members gain?

CSRP is more than a networking group. We’re dedicated to helping our members grow personally and professionally through professional development events, civic engagement and mentorship. We want young professionals to feel a sense of community, and we try to build that community through our events.

What advice do you have for other young professionals?

Young professionals need to get involved; this is the best advice I can give. It’s difficult to join the workforce, especially when you don’t know anybody. Get involved and have fun. Being a young professional in the Springs isn’t easy, but there are so many groups — CSRP included — that will help you expand your network and help you navigate the business community.

What challenges do young professionals have here?

The biggest challenge for young professionals is the lack of opportunity. Most companies aren’t willing to hire someone with limited experience, and that’s why some young professionals are moving away.

How can Colorado Springs retain more young professionals?

I think the business community needs to be more welcoming and take a chance on young professionals. We have a lot to offer the community, but when no one’s giving us the opportunity to prove ourselves, it can be frustrating.

How do you overcome this? 

When I was looking for any opportunity to work here in the Springs, I didn’t want to ask people for help, but that’s not the way it works. I had to go to my small network of people and ask about any job opportunities they knew of — and lo and behold, that’s how I found the Rising Professionals. Now I have a job I love and co-workers I love working with. For all those young professionals looking for an opportunity, use your network.

How does the group create its events?

CSRP has six different committees that put our events together: big event, civic engagement, professional development, membership, mentorship and sports and culture. Volunteers on these six committees coordinate the majority of  the events.

Our events range from membership mixers to track day at the Pikes Peak International Raceway and everything in between. We hold events all over the city, and we put a lot of effort into making sure the topics are never the same.

What do you do in your spare time? 

I spend any spare time I have with family and my two dogs. Both are boxers. In the winter, I love to ski, and during the summer, I love to go whitewater rafting. Of course, I watch the Broncos, and I try my best to make it to their training camp in August. I’m also an avid moviegoer and I love to travel.

What was the last book you read?

The last book I read was “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari. I was reading it because I love his stand-up comedy, but I was also intrigued by the study he was conducting. He explains how dating has changed in this age of technology and what dating is like in various countries. It’s a pretty interesting read.