Colleagues often ask how I put up with so many Millennials at my small firm. I say because I’m addicted. I’m addicted to employees who stress me out, ask too many questions at the wrong time, and cause great angst. On the other hand, I’m completely and utterly selfish. I love the personal challenge of building, guiding, and leading the next generation of America’s leaders. So what should you plan on; more—more patience, more time, more encouragement, more pulse checking, more massages, more aspirin, yes more!
But seriously, Millennials have long been criticized for being entitled and to some extent it’s true. A friend recently asked me to consider her niece for an intern position, stating that she just needs experience. Well that she did, because I was told that when that young lady interviewed she knew NOTHING about the firm, she couldn’t even cite one of our many clients. I was devastated. How is this possible?
Sure, there is a level of responsibility that all managers and leaders should offer, but what are we getting in return. Is it the manager’s role to bring balance to Millennials in the workplace, or is it up to Millennials to self-check and self-correct? This has been an ongoing debate in leadership for years, and unfortunately, the solution is left up to the Baby Boomers and Generation Xers to resolve.
THEM (Senior Millennial: Age 28):
I still remember the day I solidified my first job after graduate school. I was bug-eyed and ready to take the workforce by storm. I had gone through three rounds of interviews, met with senior leadership, and was able to come out swinging. In preparation, I practiced in the mirror, recited my 90 second ‘who am I’ pitch and of course did a lot of good ol’ fashioned research.
But little did I know, the great impact that I was ready to leave on the organization was halted by a never ending system of outdated processes and unreceptive leadership. I cringed as I asked myself where are the efficiencies, the innovation. I so desperately wanted to leave my mark, but at the time, the only way I knew how to do that was by creating change—something that was far from the norm. I quickly realized that many of my managers lived by the philosophy that change disrupts homeostasis—but isn’t that the beauty of it! As I began to mature in my career, I learned that being prepared for an interview is merely a starting point—the reciprocity is equally important—I was so excited for the opportunity start my first job that I did not interview the company for their intangibles; culture and adaption to change. Having this knowledge could’ve helped me secure a position that shared my similar values.
THEM (Junior Millennial: Age 23 ):
Interviewing is one of the most exciting feats as a young adult. Editing a resume, tailoring a cover letter, and submitting the best writing samples can all be nerve-racking and tedious, but once I receive an interview offer, my dancing shoes come out and I break into a celebration! Like most Millennials, I tend to get too excited too early.
Sometimes, that excitement isn’t reflected on the other side. I feel as though interviewers are out to get me, looking for reasons not hire me, instead of seeing all of the qualities I bring to the table. I once interviewed for a position that I really wanted. I had a friend who worked there, and felt that a connection to the company would be beneficial in their response time. I researched the company; looked at their website and social media platforms—I even name dropped in my cover letter to try to rub elbows with the CEO.
I didn’t hear back right away, but was relieved when I got an interview offer a few weeks later. My interviewer was pretty tough, and questioned me on everything! She was firing shots; and I was firing back. A week later I started my first day on the job, just as chipper as can be. The CEO came up to my desk and said, “I was pleasantly surprised. I thought you were going to be like the other young folk who send an application but can’t answer not one question in an interview.” I smiled and laughed, but thought to myself – ‘Like the other young folk?