Sure, more money would be great, but millennials are just as interested in jobs that fit their values, offer flexible schedules and provide multiple paths for advancement.
So says UC Irvine Extension career coaching instructor Jeannie K. Sticher, who has more than 20 years’ experience in senior level customer and human resource positions. In her coaching role at UCI Extension, Sticher uses her insights about millennials to help younger students carve out personalized career paths that meet their demands for fulfilling and meaningful work.
“Millennials grew up during a time of some major transitions in the workplace,” Sticher said. “They saw that company loyalty no longer seemed to matter. They saw their parents laid off after working at a company for years. They realize that longevity didn’t mean job security.”
Research shows that millennials — also known as Generation Y — tend to be ambitious, hard-working, civic-minded, more highly educated than other age groups, and with a strong sense of community, she added. All of which contribute to Sticher’s thinking on millennials and what they want from a career. Here are three key factors that stand out.
Millennials don’t want a job just for the sake of having a job. “What they really want is a career that fits in with their own personal values,” Sticher said. “They are very personal-values driven. They really seek a connection between what they do at work and what they care about in life. They don’t think you should separate the issues.”
And they’re not afraid to leave a company if it doesn’t match their values.
“They feel much stronger about it than other generations did,” Sticher continued. “I’m a baby boomer, and we were more willing to tolerate workplaces that didn’t match our personal values. We allowed the personal values thing to be set aside and be developed outside of work. It’s not that we didn’t have a conscience or any values, but we didn’t relate that to work the way the millennial generation does.”
The old 8-to-5 workday is so 1999. “They don’t see the 8-to-5 Monday-through-Friday routine as very appealing, which is why tech companies appeal to so many millennials,” Sticher said. “They’re still putting in tremendous hours, let’s get real. But their thinking is, as long as they’re achieving their goals, as long as they are doing the work, what’s the big deal with this 8-to-5 thing?”
Millennials also are less amenable to working in an office, Sticher said. If the work can get done at home, the local library or the neighborhood coffeehouse, why even have an office?
Paths to leadership
The generation born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s is often knocked for its alleged sense of entitlement. Sticher doesn’t see millennials that way: “They really see multiple paths to leadership positions. To them, defined career paths are not appealing.”
That means that taking time off to return to school or explore other career options should not be viewed as a hindrance to becoming a leader, but rather as an advantage.
“They believe that by exploring other opportunities, you become a more rounded person and that should make you more appealing as a leader,” Sticher said.
A growing trend
In recent years, UCI Extension has seen a dramatic shift in its student population. Millennials now make up almost a third of all students in the classes, a reflection of their stature as one of the largest and fastest-growing segments in the workforce. Recognizing the unique needs of the millennial generation, UCI Extension offers certificate programs with a wide appeal such as those in Human Resources, Project Management, Paralegal, and Internet Marketing, along with a free online Career Success program designed to build soft skills such as finance, communication, negotiation, business writing and project management. Other related programs include Strategic Leadership Development, Organizational Leadership and Communication, Meeting and Event Management, Social Media, and Mobile Application Development.
—David Ogul, Tribune Content Solutions