Perspectives | November 2007New Page 1

From the Executive Director

Have you ever heard your college student described as belonging to the "Millennial generation?" This term is assigned to people born between 1982 and 2002. People born in 1982 likely graduated from high school in 2000 - hence the term "millennials." Millennials are an interesting generation. So far, sociologists have characterized them as optimistic, tech-savvy, collaborative and team-oriented, multicultural, confident, civic-minded, goal-oriented, multitasking, and used to having strong parent advocates.

As parents of millennials, we know they are wonderful! They teach us new ways at looking at life and challenge what is important to us as Baby Boomers. But some of these young adults are having difficulties fitting into the work world as they leave college. Why? There are many reasons.

  • Their orientation to "team" can cause business recruiters to think they are overly dependent on the work and input of others.
  • They desire structured and supportive work environments.
  • Their strong abilities in technology have resulted in a less formal style of communication because of e-mail and Instant Messenger shortcuts.
  • They have been told from birth that they are special and they know they are. Millennials also feel great pressure to achieve. The outcome of this is that they don't want to "pay their dues" for great opportunities.

How do parents help their adult children utilize the best characteristics of their generation and take corrective measures for the weak ones as they prepare to search for their first jobs out of college?

  1. Encourage them to take leadership roles on teams.
  2. Help them understand how to identify and communicate their individual contributions to team efforts.
  3. Remind them of the importance of formal written communication.
  4. Encourage them to get away from their computers and out into internships and mentorships where they encounter and learn from real business people and environments.

Millennials tend to have very involved parents. Some parents even involve themselves in their children's job search and interview processes. Involvement at that level is, in my opinion, inappropriate. But we can certainly take the steps outlined above to encourage the kinds of activities that prepare our children for jobs in the real world while they are college students.

Sheri Philips
Executive Director of University Relations

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