We all have been bombarded with information about millennials in the workplace. A great deal of it revolving around the their expectations and behaviors. Unfortunately, I do believe they are getting a bad rap. Here at Acadia, we have been actively hiring millennials as interns for the past 5 years. I'm not saying that what we read or hear is incorrect, but more often than not, it is laced with opinions and perceptions which are not wholly accurate. Most of the time, these opinions come from, let's say, more seasoned individuals. I'm guilty as well. As business owners, we better figure out the formula. Why? Because these young professionals are the fastest growing sector of the work force and 50% of buying and sourcing decisions are being made by them.
Our experience with interns at Acadia is counter to the misconceptions we all hear on the news, in print and online. We have found these young professionals highly driven, incredibly insightful for their years and deadline driven. Not only that, they bring perspective to the workplace that we need to better serve our clients. Guess what, our client's customers are millennials too. To market to them, we need to know how they tick. Yes, they tick differently than I and many of my colleagues do. We recently had 3 interns from the University of Dayton spend the last year with Acadia. They graduated this past weekend. Two are off to Chicago to start their careers and one is now a freshly minted full time team member for Acadia. We couldn't be more pleased.
We are always working to understand what makes these young people tick. Well, what better way to find out, just ask! Before one of our interns departed, I provided a prompt...What do you want in a company when looking for a place to work or career? The following is straight from a newly minted graduate embarking on their new career. Maybe there are some insights for your company.
At the end of this week I will be ending my year long internship and was asked to write a blog about what I am looking for in a first job out of college. This was actually a struggle for me. I applied to many jobs of differing types because I was still searching for what it was I wanted to pursue. And honestly I still don’t exactly know. I have interned and worked for a couple smaller companies and have loved the
family feel but I had dreamed of living in New York City with some flashy job . This dream caused me to skip over the smaller companies that would have actually been a perfect fit as a first job. I was in the mind-set that I should stay at the same company for the rest of my life so might as well land my dream job right away. But, that is just unrealistic.
When I started writing this piece, I asked some of my friends what they were looking for in their first jobs. The response was overwhelmingly “culture”. After getting that answer from 7 out of the 7 people I asked, plus myself, I determined it must be important!
I had wanted a big company with a big culture but I didn’t realize that a company culture can exist in any sized company. Yes, the "Googles and Facebooks" of the world have a cafeteria on every floor with frozen yogurt machines and beers in the fridge, full sized gyms, no traditional desks, unlimited vacation, and the list goes on.
Just because your company is not of this size doesn’t mean you don’t or can’t have a fun office culture. It could be argued that culture is even more important for smaller agencies or businesses because you want to maintain the family feel and attract new talent. For me personally, I loved the people I worked with. Working on projects with the other interns often felt like just "hanging out" more than it felt like doing work.
People want to enjoy going to work everyday, and even if your job does entail sitting at a computer all day, you want the environment around you to help you power through those excel spreadsheets. Simple incentives like pizza parties or bring your dog to work day when you reach a sales goal is often just what people need to make just one more call and get through one more rejection. After work activities like company intramurals, happy hour, and going to a local minor league baseball game will also help people. There are many other options as well, none of which are very difficult to do. They just take a little effort that gives a big return.
Also, culture doesn’t have to be an activity. The opportunity to have a flexible work schedule is also a big draw. People want to work in an atmosphere that encourages quality over quantity. More and more companies are shifting to the concept of "do whatever you need to do to get your work done" as opposed to the typical sit at your desk from 9-5. If that means working from home some days or taking a workout class in the middle of the day, then as long as you get your tasks done, then so be it.
Growth is also an important aspect of culture; both personally and within the company. When searching for a new position, it is not uncommon for people to be thinking of the job they are applying for as well as how they can advance with the company. Room for growth is a big incentive for potential new employees. Personal and professional development also fits in this category. Providing opportunities for employees to network and get themselves out there is great for them personally as well as the whole company. The connections that people make at these events could be a potential new client.
When I had originally asked my friends what they were looking for in their first job and kept getting the answer “culture”, I wanted someone to come up with a different answer. But then I realized; if this is the overwhelming response, then it must actually be something companies need to be paying attention to!