Last year we launched our first “Early-Career Special Issue” to highlight and share the work of some of the pioneers in systems microbiology science who are just stepping into their first independent research positions. The special issue—published in March/April 2018 (https://msystems.asm.org/content/3/2)—was, we believe, a great success. First, it provided a platform for these early-career researchers to highlight their work and their vision, in a format frequently reserved for people further along in their careers. Having such a large collection all in a single place allows one to get an excellent perspective on the future of microbial systems biology. Second, we believe the collection also serves as an important networking and communication resource. For example, conference organizers, companies, department chairs, and others looking for early-career scholars working across the breadth of microbial systems biology can use these articles. In addition, the collection provides an opportunity to see the bigger picture of the vision driving the work of key people in the field, which in turn could be a key resource for those looking for new collaborators, or possible mentors for graduate school or postdoctoral training.