Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Place for Young Achievers to Connect

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Place for Young Achievers to Connect

Article excerpt

Sumaya Kazi, a 20-something professional, works long hours at a high-powered technology firm in California. On weekends, she likes to go out, talk to friends, and network - just like others her age.

Last summer, she realized that this kind of networking was a huge and untapped resource that could help solve two problems: the fact that she and other young Americans of south Asian descent rarely read or hear about themselves in the media, and that these successful young minorities could give back to their communities - if only they knew whom to call.

That's partly how Ms. Kazi and two others dreamed up The CulturalConnect, a free online magazine catering to people from four different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The magazine comes in four editions: "The DesiConnect" ("Desi" refers to a person with South Asian roots), "The MideastConnect," "The LatinConnect," and "The AsiaConnect."

"Our magazine really touches on the fact that young professionals have something valuable," says Kazi, who works in public relations at Sun Microsystems in Santa Clara, Calif. "Whether they're at a club, a bar, standing at the bus stop, they network, and we facilitate that."

Kazi and her two 20-something co-founders, Raymond Rouf and Kaiser Shahid, launched the online magazine last summer. Now the site has more than 30,000 subscribers. Kazi says it's filling a void for young professionals eager to hear about one another's work. It also puts readers in touch with nonprofit groups that can always use energetic people who want to help.

One reader, Maneka Sinha, says The CulturalConnect addresses a growing audience that other media are ignoring. "We have this new population of ueber-successful type-A young people who are always looking to do more," says Ms. Sinha, who works for consulting firm Deloitte & Touche in the San Francisco area. Unlike their first- generation immigrant parents, she adds, these young people are in a position to pour energy into their communities. It's hard to find stories about these successful young minorities, she says.

Derek Stevens, a chemical engineering graduate student in Minnesota, says The DesiConnect resonates with him, even though he's white. "I haven't really found any other site that profiles young professionals the way they do," he says.

The magazine is simple: Each week, readers get one profile of a young professional and one of a nonprofit organization. Magazine staff members are always looking for new people and nonprofits to profile, and they usually get more contacts every time they write about someone.

Kazi says she's realized that nonprofits don't get the media attention they deserve, so young people don't end up hearing much about them. As a result, a great resource goes untapped, she says.

Just last week, the magazine started running ads in its various editions from companies like Starbucks and Travelocity, and Kazi hopes the niche audiences in a powerful consumer demographic will attract more. …

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