I’m really impressed with our summer intern Hannah. She’s smart, thoughtful, funny, creative and strategic. So far this summer she’s written blog posts about GenY’ers, edited video interviews, helped facilitate qualitative research on happiness at work, conducted a ton of secondary research and participated in a several brainstorming sessions. Just yesterday, she came to me with three different ideas for how we can grow our corporate business AND serve the educational and non-profit communities. Her contributions have been significant and I’ve seen her become more comfortable and confident in our fast-paced work environment. My hope is that she returns to her University studies with some tangible real-world experiences and a head start on a dynamite professional resume.
I have learned quite a bit from Hannah and, at the risk of generalizing, about what makes GenY’ers happy at work:
Observation: Hannah is drawn to the idea of positive change and meaningful work over a fat paycheck
Take-Away: It’s helpful to have a company or even initiatives that focus on making the world a better place. We’re lucky at YouEarnedIt because our focus is based on the science of happiness at work and the authentic exchange of positive recognition.
Observation: Hannah works part-time and keeps non-traditional hours; but, she’s most productive and creative when given the freedom to work without a rigid schedule. This means she might not start at 9 a.m. because she was writing a blog late the night before.
Take-Away: Flexibility is important. Let go of traditional office hour schedules as long as the work is getting done. The trust and freedom lead to better work, engagement and loyalty.
Observation: Hannah appears to be texting during our meetings
Take-Away: Hannah and others from her generation have grown up with quite a bit of digital stimulation. Unlike me, she can multitask and retain an entire conversation with ease. Unless things start slipping through the cracks, accept that GenY’ers are not being rude if their eyes are focused on a mobile device and not you. They ARE listening plus taking notes plus updating their Twitter feed plus planning how they’ll tackle a project. It kind of blows me away.
Observation: Hannah looks for opportunities to ideate and own project ideas
Take-Away: GenY employees have a desire to make an impact and contribute immediately. Be careful about assigning too many “Jr. Level” tasks and recognize that they have a fresh and creative perspective that outweighs their limited on-the-job experience. Make sure to encourage and coach them on how to think through their ideas and identify the key features/benefits for customers. Empower them to create and own the project by defining the deliverables and setting realistic deadlines.
Hannah’s been such a pleasure to work with this summer. She does a great job representing her generation and Miami University. I see her going places and hope to work with her again.
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