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How AppianRise Makes Your First Job Less Isolating

Appian App Icon Cece Cizek Kirkwood and Rishab Iyer


Coming out of college into your first job can be overwhelming. 

You’re used to a rigid schedule, studying, and focusing on a test score. Then you come into the workforce and you have more flexibility over your time and projects, and it’s a lot to learn. Similarly, for making a career transition, it can feel like starting from scratch. 

That’s where AppianRise comes in. It’s our Affinity Group that creates an inclusive community dedicated to sparking meaningful discussion about personal and professional developments for employees early in their careers.

Cece Cizek Kirkwood and Rishab Iyer are AppianRise board members, and both know what it can feel like to be isolated at work. Now they’re leading AppianRise initiatives to help others on their early career journeys. 

Meet Cece Cizek Kirkwood. 

  • Engineering Analyst
  • Inclusion Chair, AppianRise 

Creating a space where it’s okay to say “I don’t know.” 

I lead the onboarding committee for new hires in engineering and I’ve seen how it’s a big jump to transition into your first full-time job, and experienced it myself. Through AppianRise, we want to be able to provide some structure, and create a community and space where people know that it’s okay to feel a bit lost at the beginning and that you’re not alone. It’s also about creating a space where it’s okay to not know your five year career plan. No one really does! 

When I joined Appian, it was a career switch for me. I had studied business in school and stumbled into non-profit fundraising. I was good with people, wanted to make a positive impact on the environment, and grew into three positions at the non-profit I was at. But, eventually, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes operations and project management work. 

When a friend reached out about this position at Appian, I didn’t check all the boxes. I didn’t know if it was exactly what I wanted to do. But it matched with the skills I had and wanted to keep working on, so that’s how I got here! 

There’s so much pressure growing up to have a plan and know what career you want. I hope that our work with AppianRise creates a space where people know that it’s okay to not know.

What you don’t realize in school is that everyone is figuring it out, even at a workplace. People change, and people’s interests in work change too. If there’s something you want to try, you can, and you have the support behind you.

Appian has proven for myself and others that you can grow here. Being able to help people do their jobs better is really fulfilling, and that’s a lot of what I do today and what I love about AppianRise. 

Helping spark new connections across Appian. 

We’ve heard from so many AppianRise members that they join to meet people outside of their everyday work. It’s a hub to connect with others you otherwise wouldn’t meet at Appian. When we can help build connections between someone in engineering and someone in marketing for example who don’t otherwise work together, it’s so cool to hear stories about how having another peer in their corner makes such a difference in their work experience. 

Here are a few of the events and initiatives we’ve led with AppianRise:  

  • Podcast and book club 
  • Professional development workshops on managing up, and ways to grow in your career
  • Partnered with Appian Engineering Guilds to host talks on leadership, and implicit bias
  • Social events like happy hours and trivia nights 
  • Mentorship program 

AppianRise table at one of our happy hours at HQ. We handed out AppianRise swag.

We host many events open to everyone, but sometimes the small and intimate ones are most meaningful. We have a podcast club where we pick a podcast to listen to and then meet to chat about it. One meeting only four people showed up and I remember thinking it’s too bad there wasn't a big turnout. But after the event, every single person messaged me saying how great it was to make those connections. It makes me so happy to hear stories about how people build these connections across teams at Appian.

Meet Rishab Iyer.

  • Consultant  
  • Mentorship Outreach Chair, AppianRise

Community of young professionals. 

I started at Appian in August 2020 and was looking for a way to meet other coworkers. Working remotely can be isolating and takes intentional effort to feel connected. I’m on a small team with others at director or VP levels and it allowed me to have a new network and community within Appian. 

Now being part of the AppianRise board, it's a totally different kind of work than my customer success work and I love the variety it brings to my work weeks. I lead the mentorship program, which pairs interns with Appian employee mentors who they can learn from throughout their term. It involves lots of coordinating, meeting with mentees and mentors, and providing resources and guides for people to draw from. 

Being the matchmaker behind mentorship.

 I’m the one behind the curtain helping coordinate the matches! I work closely with our HR partner who interviews all the interns. I meet with all the mentors who have volunteered to better understand their personalities, skills, and hobbies to see who sounds like a good match. We especially look for mentors to have 3-5 years of experience who can easily relate to the feelings of your first job. 

Here’s what the mentorship looks like: 

  • Meeting at least four times during the intern’s term 
  • Participating in AppianRise events 
  • Having someone in your corner, someone on another team to chat with for questions and support 

We provide email templates and guides to spark conversation but we leave a lot up to the mentors to see where it goes. I still talk to my mentee from last year who isn’t returning to Appian but followed up to say how much he appreciated the program and to have someone to lean on and trust during his first term.

There’s been so much interest from Appian employees to be mentors, we actually couldn’t take everyone this year and had a waitlist. It has shown us how many people see the value in mentorship and want to pay it forward to others. 

When it comes down to it, our work with AppianRise is about creating a community and making people feel less alone. We know your first job or making a career switch can be overwhelming and figuring out where to grow in your career is hard. Being part of it has made my Appian experience so much better. 

AppianRise is for anyone looking for community and professional growth, tailored to young professionals. We’re all about setting up programs for support, and creating a hub to make it easier to build connections.

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Written by

Cece Cizek Kirkwood and Rishab Iyer

Cece and Rishab are active AppianRise members.