advice for millennials

20863570_sI’ve been conducting interviews with communication professionals for a curriculum project and I’ve been asking them what students need to know or do to get a job.

One vice-president for talent acquisition at a major studio in LA has taken the measure of our future, and it is somewhat discouraging. She says students expect to start out as managers, but find out they are assistants—hard to explain to parents who shelled out $60 to $70 thousand for tuition.

Perhaps more devastating for them is that they were “top of their class” but suddenly find themselves surrounded by new hires who were also top of their class—it turns out they are no longer the smartest people in the room. In fact, it turns out the smart people are two or three times their age and more seasoned and mature.

Not that they can tell who is smartest, because no one is getting (or giving) grades, that most misleading of assessments. What they get now is actual feedback, not all of it kind. But these are the ones that do get hired.

The ones that didn’t get hired were texting and taking calls during their interview, after they showed up late. Still, some of their parents actually call the studio to find out why their progeny didn’t get the job.

The ones who got that far are the ones who didn’t use slang and emoticons on their applications. Or cutesy names and pop references in their email addresses.

She sent the email on April 1.

Let’s hope she was joking.

Do you think she was kidding? Why not?

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About wally metts

Wally Metts is the daysman. He is director of graduate studies in communication at Spring Arbor University and is a pastor at Countryside Bible Church in Jonesville, MI. The father of four adult children, he and his wife Katie raise barn cats and Christmas trees in Michigan. His grandchildren call him Santa.

5 Responses to “advice for millennials”

  1. I think she’s serious. My youngest brother falls into this category. Still living rent-free with meal service and allowance – in Dad’s basement. College now well behind him.

    Currently, its the rainy season where Dad lives. I mentioned (joked?) the other night that if he were to plug the sump pump – baby brother might just float on out of there. In a serious tone, he asked “Can I just stuff it with a blanket or do I actually have to cut wires?”

    It wasn’t April 1st.
    I sure hope the kid can paddle.

    • Mike—thanks for you help with this. 🙂 And for commenting and caring. You have these people working for you and with you too. What is your experience?

      • (Sorry Wally, ran long…)

        Obvious, but let me open by acknowledging that every child/young adult is different. Every growing environment is different. Every parental figure is different. We all react differently. We all experience different things, differently.

        However, when you begin to see trends and commonalities across all these differences, they seem significant – and informing.

        I think all of us, as twenty-somethings or so, graduated assuming we were going to take the world by storm. For most, it doesn’t happen that way. We wake up to reality. We adapt.

        That is not happening anymore. Young people don’t wake up. Don’t adapt.

        Instead, they are expecting reality to adjust to them and their needs. Amazingly, the plan works – for the top 10%. Maybe it always has? Workplaces now go out of their way to cater to the best and brightest. If you are truly one of them, you’ll likely get concessions.

        The other 90% will not fare as well. Hopefully, school has taught you focus, critical thinking and good basic skills. But it has not taught you how to succeed in a work environment. Employers must invest a great deal in young recruits. They are time-consuming, expensive and will likely move on after a year or so. Why gamble? Spend a bit more and get a lower maintenance hire – or invest in the future with a new graduate? Can be a tough choice.

        So the distracted, demanding, overly casual, young person who brings their phone to meetings (no) – answer it (never) and declares the need for all of August off because mom and dad have a vacation to Barbados planned and they want me to go too (fired).

        I can say it ‘cuz I am one. Parents need to tighten up. Say no. Dole out chores. Keep them grounded. More manners and respect. I could go on. And, it is not socioeconomic. My best and worst have been from all sorts of backgrounds. If parents stay strong (not hovering) then good job! Destiny, hopefully, awaits.

        Young people should not view starter jobs as demeaning (and they do). It won’t be your best one. But you’ll learn a lot. Don’t try and run the place on your first day. They survived before you arrived. Make them part of that world overthrow plan. “They never saw me coming!”

        We’re old. If not smart, we are seasoned, informed and wield some clout. If you work hard and play your cards right, your time will come, too. If not, you’ll amass a dodgy resume of short stays at increasingly dubious posts. That is a hard position to bounce back from.

        Last thought… proof and spellcheck – always and forever.

  2. I still consider myself fresh out of school, but I haven’t experienced starting a job with others who are smarter, more talented, and more experience. I’ve pretty consistently found that many places are full of people who do the minimum to not get fired, and like to complain about their mediocre workload. But that’s just me, for now.

    I’m applying to many places to work, and I am optimistic I will find an employer fit where we are both excited about the opportunity.

    While I understand there are a lot of bad applications out there, there are a lot of good applications too. It is hard competing for a job where they expect someone with 5-10 years of experience and a master’s degree with a degree in Global Studies. I think there is a lot to be said about studying more practical subjects for the future job market — if I could do school again I would do business.

    I am also curious about the parents paying for school. Myself, and many people I know, have parents who did not contribute anything towards tuition, but maybe that’s anecdotal.

    I like your posts about Milleniels, Wally, they’ve got me more worked up than any of your other posts, ha! It’s good to get different generational perspectives. Many of my peers are continuing to go into debt for Grad School in fields that are difficult to find jobs with. It’s weird.

  3. David—Glad to see you “worked up” about this topic, which I hope to explore for a while on #millennialmondays. I think there are many challenges facing your generation, and not all of them the same—different backgrounds, education, etc.

    I find most of them, like you, optimistic, although some, unlike you, without good reasons. The future of higher ed is more bleak than even for people of you age. I hope to generate conversations about both topics.

    In the meantime, I appreciate you and Valerie for the thoughtfulness with which you have engaged. Thanks for commenting.

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