So let me take this in another direction and say, without hesitation, that over the last two years I’ve learned more from interns and young professionals than I have from fellow boomers, business books, blogs and big conferences – all put together.
The reasons are simple… 1) I’m a sponge when it comes to learning new things, and; 2) I listen – regardless of the age of the person talking and without equating “level of experience” with “ability to contribute”.
With an open mind firmly in place, here are the Top 10 lessons learned from Interns and YoPros…
1. Engagement Matters
While now a common thought in my head, it was a Millennial who first taught me that engagement – rather than mass emails, DMs and auto-responders is what sets you – and your brand – apart from the rest.
2. Diversity is Expected
In today’s younger workforce, diversity isn’t some corporate mandated program – or some kind of equality we strive for… it is already there, and more than expected.
3. Work Happens Before 8am and After 5pm
As a morning person on the west coast, I admit this one kills me. However, I’ve come to embrace that with the night owls working in different time zones, our company is practically (albeit unintentionally) a 24/7 operation.
4. Google, Dammit!
No, YoPros didn’t invent Google – nor were they first to use a search engine. However, they sure perfected the use of the technology. It only takes one time for a Millennial to look over your shoulder as you email a question to four team members and say, “Would have taken 7 seconds to Google that…” (Shuddap!)
5. Communicate Quickly
Maybe this is the influence of texting or Twitter… either way, it is brilliant! Say what you have to say – quickly and succinctly – and then be quiet. All the time management books in the world never thought of this, but they should have.
6. Virtual. Good.
Working in an office? Commuting nightmares? Brown bagging lunches? Office gossip and politics? Not necessary. Again, Millennials didn’t invent the virtual office, they just made it a better place.
Used to be that every project was a do-or-die individual assignment steeped in deadlines. Now, Millenials expect to brainstorm, work together to achieve a common goal and celebrate team wins. Good logic. Great results!
8. Motivate and Inspire
Through Millennials, I’ve learned that when properly motivated and inspired we can use innovation, collaboration and, yes, Google to solve almost any business problem – and chances are we’ll come up with a much better solution than we might have in the “old days”.
9. There’s an App for That
Sometimes, the solutions from No. 8 lead to an app that makes all our lives easier – all we need do is find and implement. A Boomer may struggle for days or weeks on how to solve an issue, a Millennial just knows… “There’s an app for that!”
10. Sometimes, Experience Doesn’t Mean Squat
Back to what I said in the intro, it is amazing what happens when we open our minds and listen to others without preconceived notions about age, generation or experience. It doesn’t take a bunch of greybeards to solve every problem… sometimes it takes a little youthful energy, innovation and some of Number 8 on this list.
Those are my 10 real-life lessons learned from the young people I see – and enjoy working with – on a daily basis. What have you learned from Millennials in the workplace? What would you add to this list? Please let us know in the comments below!
About the Author: A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, CEO and Founder of YouTern Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter: @YouTernMark.