New faces are bringing a breath of fresh air to Upstate NY
A transformation is occurring in New York State. With more than 4 million millennials in the state’s workforce, new faces and perspectives are bringing a breath of fresh air to places like Buffalo, Plattsburgh, Syracuse and a variety of other cities and towns along the way, spearheading innovation and revitalizing local communities.
Here, four New York-based millennials talk about how they’re contributing to their respective emerging industries, what makes their locales special, and how a new American Dream is building throughout the Empire State.
Junior Developer, Insum Solutions
As a high school pitcher with hopes to continue playing in college, Neil Fernandez, 22, learned that, in order to be successful, he had to adapt to a variety of situations, all while relying on a core skill set to get the job done.
As a student at SUNY Plattsburgh, he soon discovered that the same rules applied.
“I wanted to go to college and play baseball, but I got injured and had some health issues, so from there I focused on what I wanted my career to be,” recalls Fernandez. “I used to help out family members and friends fixing their computers — whenever my friends had an issue they came to me — so I thought about studying either IT or Computer Science.
“Initially, I picked IT because the thought of programming didn’t seem too appealing. But then I took my first intro to programming course as part of the IT major and realized I really enjoyed programming, so I switched to Computer Science.”
After graduating in 2016 with a B.S. in Computer Science, Fernandez landed an internship with Insum Solutions, a Montreal-based IT services provider, looking to establish an office in Plattsburgh that would be primarily staffed with current and former students from nearby universities. The opportunity to gain hands-on experience working on web development eventually led to a full-time role for Fernandez.
“On a day-to-day basis, we create tools and applications for large businesses that heavily rely on databases,” Fernandez explains about his role at Insum Solutions. “We specialize in a tool called Oracle APEX, which helps us rapidly build applications so we’re not starting from scratch. We work with some pretty large clients: I recently had the opportunity to work with Carnival Cruise Lines, creating reporting tools for all of their ships, so that was very exciting, being able to develop an application that would be put into production at a large scale.”
As far as activities available for a growing community of young professionals in Plattsburgh, Fernandez says there’s plenty to do in the North Country region.
“If you’re an outdoors person, Plattsburgh is a great place,” says Fernandez. “There’s 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks, so I have a lot of friends here that go hiking. They have the Bass Pro Tournaments at Lake Champlain, so fishing and kayaking are popular. There’s also a lot of local, good food, restaurants, bars, and there’s four or five breweries in Plattsburgh too that are popular.
“The community is growing — over the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of college students staying, I think that’s the direction that Plattsburgh is going in,” relates Fernandez. “I know plenty of people that think there’s not much going on in Plattsburgh, but once they come visit, usually their views change — they realize that there’s beautiful scenery around, and there’s definitely plenty to do.”