For this week’s post, I had the pleasure of conducting a Q&A session with Jenny Floren, founder and CEO of Experience.com and author of The Innovation Generation: The Gen Y Way: How New Thinking Can Reclaim the American Dream.
Here is what Jenny had to say about Gen Y and how they approach their job searches and careers:
1. What do you feel Gen Y job seekers have to offer that older (more experienced) candidates don’t?
Gen Y has been brought up using the Internet, watching live, 24/7 news, expecting instant communication and emerging as the world’s first generation of “digital natives.” Today’s global economy brings new challenges and new rules; it truly is a new world—and Gen Y speaks the native tongue fluently. Their unique perspective and new thinking –also known as the “Gen Y Way” – brings a new view on a more socially conscious, global world.
2. You mention in your book that Gen Ys have a ‘why not?’ attitude. What do you mean by this and how is it an asset?
Think about it this way – in your own working environment have you learned more from the folks who have taken your direction as law or those who’ve stepped up to the plate and asked “why”?
In my opinion, an office full of robotic employees can only get you so far. Gen Y asks questions. They’re inquisitive and it’s been interesting to see some media thought leadership that’s condoned this quality.
When Gen Y questions the status quo, it’s because they’re looking at the situation through a different lens, and what they see doesn’t add up. They see that the old ways don’t work—and they can’t help but question why we’d want to continue down the wrong path. This type of questioning shouldn’t be chastised—it should be celebrated and rewarded!
3. What are employers’ biggest misconceptions about Gen Y?
“‘Generation Whine’ is entitled and needy.” For the past 15 years, I’ve been able to observe this remarkable group. What Gen Y really is, is the most misunderstood generation in history. This group is bringing new perspectives, new values and new thinking to the table – and this is exactly what we need to solve the challenges facing our world today.
They question old thinking and assumptions, and the reality is (as mentioned above) some people don’t like having their feathers ruffled. Gen Y also looks for collaborative methods to get the job done, which can differ from other generations’ beliefs that it’s a one (wo)man show.
At the end of the day, they’re less focused on financial endeavors and more so on creating a new set of life experiences and a balanced living. Gen Y isn’t whiny; what they are is in constant pursuit of new opportunities to learn and grow.
4. What is Gen Y’s impact on the workforce (positive or negative)?
I’m obviously going to say positive, but don’t take my word for it! Here in Massachusetts, efforts to attract and retain young, educated talent are a high priority. The Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX) launched a “Recruit and Retain” initiative to promote the growing new-media industry in the state, and to counter the misconception that all “cool” innovation is happening on the West Coast.
Today, many mainstream companies are attempting to step up the marketing of New England to attract the up-and-coming talent that is so critically important for innovation and growth. This effort by MITX and New England companies is indicative of the fact that the world is beginning to place a higher value on the Innovation Generation’s fresh thinking.
One need look no further than President Barack Obama’s utilization of social, collaborative technology in his campaign in order to assess the value of this new type of thinking.
Do you agree with Jenny’s assessment of Gen Y? How do you feel about being a member of this generation or working with Gen Ys? Please share your thoughts in the comments!