Don’t settle! Go after your dream job.
That’s what they told her in college. They even made her read the book How To Get Your Dream Job. As we sat discussing the topic of working your way up in a job, that particular path of life had not even entered into this college graduate’s way of thinking. Now two years out of school, she was educating those of us around the table as to what this generation is being taught in academia—and it’s anything but about starting in the mail room. University students today are not only being taught the opposite of the mailroom concept —most have never even heard of it.
If truth be told, success for this generation is, in many cases, coming easier than it did for some of us older types. And it’s due in part to the immediate access to the internet. Today, a job candidate can learn any skill by simply pulling up a YouTube video. And, if needed, they can slip off into a corner or hallway to google your last comment and discover where the country you mentioned is actually located, read a quick bio on that political leader, pull up some stats, or discern that unique phrase you just dropped during conversation.
When I was in school, if I wanted information, I had to go to the library. When it was open. Then, search painfully through those little library card boxes. I’d flip through cards frantically hoping to find a book on the assigned subject. A good resource, hopefully, at that. And if I didn’t, I had to place an interlibrary loan request and wait about two weeks or more for that book to arrive. By the time it did, assuming it had the information I needed or was even the right kind of book, the report or paper I was working on was usually due, and it or missed my deadline altogether. But I digress…
But isn’t there something to be said for the wisdom that comes alongside information gathering? You know, that experience over time that teaches you how to finesse or present the data. The building of a seasoned professional if you will. That, however, may best be left to a future discussion.
Basically, this up and coming generation that will soon be running our businesses and companies is not being groomed for, nor are they interested in, learning on the job, gaining experience in the position or climbing the corporate ladder over time. They are simply told to shoot for the top, or just say, “no thanks” to your entry-level position offer.
From what our young team member was sharing that day, students are not being guided to search for the right work culture to invest in, the best skill set fit, or to perhaps find a company they can grow into. They’re being taught to take the bypass route by people who went to school, then got a lifetime job teaching at one. Professors aren’t usually known for having been business owners.
Back in my day, you know the one, where we walked six miles in the snow, uphill, both ways, just to get to school? That wasn’t the case. If you wanted to work at your dream company, you took whatever position was open, and then worked your way up. You didn’t worry about the timeline. You knew it was just a matter of proving yourself, timing, and opportunity.
It got me thinking. If you’re a business owner, is hiring someone fresh out of college to handle your broad range of clients or customers and important business decisions truly a wise move? Yet, this generation is thinking you should be doing just that.
Rule of thought on that process would say: they haven’t seen the good, the bad, and the ugly side of the professional world as yet. They don’t know how to finesse your older or even international clients. They have little grasp of 20th century TV shows and pop culture “isms” which many times are needed to clinch or close the deal. Still, they expect to be placed in roles that call for these types of interactions.
Ironically, I actually have, many times, placed so-called millennials in key positions. But I did so strategically. And to be honest, they nailed the projects or the responsibilities I gave them. That’s because when they want to learn or excel at something, they have immediate access to the information to help them attain that task or goal. And believe me, they learn fast!
On the flipside…
If you’re 21 and land your dream job, where do you go from there? And, if you max out early, what’s next? Success too early and too often, though applauded in our current culture, can actually be a double-edged sword.
It’s not uncommon for me these days to sit across from a young, talented entrepreneur or client who has peaked in their 20s only to look at me and say, “I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know what I want to do or where I want to go. I can’t navigate this.” The hardest thing is when they say, “Is this all there is? I worked for—this?”
They appear frustrated, lost, and at times forlorn. I have come to refer to this as the “mid-life crisis at 30” syndrome.
But do not dismay. These younglings bounce back. And when they do, they easily skyrocket off to the next great adventure. It’s truly something to behold.
With that, I have come to fully enjoy engaging with these up and coming generations. They inspire me, intrigue me, challenge me, and they have managed to earn my trust on many occasions. The world we live in today changes faster than you or I could have ever imagined. The funny thing? They don’t even notice. It’s how they’re wired.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or stories on this topic. Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
And in the meantime, here’s to the new DNA. Long may it wave.