As a Millennial living in the tech mecca of the United States, I’m surrounded by peers quite literally changing the world as we know it, many of whom just recently went off their parent’s health insurance.
We are the outspoken open source generation, pushing boundaries armed with technology freely at our fingertips, and we’ve been groomed to juggle multiple tasks at rapid speed. Equipped with these tools, I thought my entry into the working world would be a breeze… let’s just say #boywasIwrong #whatisa401k? and #timeforarealitycheck.
There’s no denying that stepping into the work world was exhilarating. I felt accomplished to have received an offer of employment from such a forward-thinking company, confident that I could quickly learn the art of consulting, and excited to share all the groundbreaking ideas I would surely have. Like most Millennials, I grew up hearing the phrase “you can do anything you put your my mind to” and I naively assumed this would apply. Turns out navigating the workplace and collaborating with a workforce full of non-Millennials was a far more complex task than I had anticipated, no matter how self-assured I was at the onset.
Fortunately, Blue Beyond has been an incredible organization to work at through this transition, from supporting me through my growing pains to helping me see where my Millennial mind can add true value. Here are a few things I’ve learned…
- Non-virtual community is something we crave
I recently read an article in Ozy with a tagline that resonated deeply: “We [Millennials] might know a faster way to send an email or do XYZ in the tech space, but there is no replacement for a sense of community and human, face-to-face interaction.” PWC’s recent NextGen study on Millennials came to a similar conclusion, reinforcing the high priority millennials place on work cultures characterized by teaming and a sense of community.Working in the consulting space with a geographically dispersed clientele and constantly shifting schedules, virtual teaming has been both necessary and effective. But it’s the efforts my team has made to build relationships with one another through retreats and in-person working sessions that have built the strong community of support that I’ve needed to feel connected outside of virtual collaboration.
- Causes are at the core of our value system
Interest in social change has been present across generations, but Millennials in particular have begun to bridge this passion for humanitarian causes more directly with the workplaces they pursue and prefer. According to recent research, 70% of Millennials consider themselves social activists, and of that group three in four actively seek employers that support a social cause (Chicago Business Times). As Millennials infiltrate a higher percentage of the workforce, employers will have to think critically about their CSR programs and the role they play in recruitment and retention of this population (Huffington Post).Recently I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to think through our own corporate philanthropy program and volunteer efforts. Aside from being thankful to be at an organization that supports my piloting of this program amidst client work, it has added an invaluable layer of meaning and purpose in the workplace for me. Tying our corporate brand and values into the cause work we invest in has also been an informative exercise – a challenge mirrored by many of our clients.
- There is competitiveness in cross-generational teaming
No matter how adept I am at navigating the newest technology, I am now keenly and humbly aware of all that I have to learn and the many years it will take to build that repertoire of expertise. That being said, Millennials have a wealth of perspectives and skills to offer, from our proclivity to think innovatively and challenge the status quo to our technical savvy. Fortunately, employers realize this too. In one of the most comprehensive studies on millennials to date, Bentley University found that 74% of non-Millennials agree that Millennials offer distinct skills and workstyles that add significant value to the workforce.I’ve been fortunate to experience the juxtaposition of multiple generations on almost every project I’ve been staffed on, most often by strategic design and justifiably so. Though finding a common language can be challenging at first, shifting our perspectives to play to our distinct strengths almost always results in an unparalleled group genius and a rich learning environment for all parties. Combine decades of deep content expertise with the inventive problem solving of a Millennial, and you have a dynamic teaming experience that is highly effective at addressing organizational issues we’re tasked to solve. Candidly, it’s also quite fun to be a part of.
One of my co-workers recently reminded me of the adage “green grows, ripe rots” and that philosophy has hit home. Yes, I am a green Millennial with humility to gain and much to learn, but like other Millennials I know (maybe some that you know?), I’m actively figuring out how to harness the strengths of my generation, leverage the wisdom of the generations before me, and discover firsthand how to create a workplace culture conducive to all.