[IMGCAP(1)]I just returned from a conference packed with young professionals. When I was settled and had a chance to look around, it was a bit of a culture shock. After all, let’s be honest—the majority of today’s accounting professionals are of the Baby Boomer generation, and it’s this group that traditionally makes up the majority at most events.

The conference I attended was AICPA’s E.D.G.E.—an event designed for the next generation of accounting professionals and emerging CPAs. The focus is on helping this upcoming group develop skills and learn sound strategies to succeed in the profession. The conference offers sessions on the topics of advanced technologies, developing a personal brand, and other specialized learning tracks. It’s very cool…as is the upcoming generation of accounting professionals.

E.D.G.E. promotes a much-needed balance of mentoring and innovation. It advances the notion of learning from the existing brain trust, while also having the courage to explore new ideas and present new concepts into firms. Overall, attendees leave with the message that the world is their oyster—there are so many opportunities to make a difference and be successful.

What I witnessed was a highly professional and hungry group of young accountants and CPAs, ready to be mentored and become valuable assets in firms. What that means for us seasoned pros is that we must be willing to mentor—otherwise these bright young professionals will look elsewhere. This group really does represent a goldmine of new talent and innovation.

So, it’s time to get involved, get to know them, and take them under your wing. If you don’t, someone else will. And we all know that the pool of qualified candidates isn’t exactly bottomless.