Watch out for 20-somethings on the job.

Much has been written about the millennials – how they work, what motivates them, and how to manage them. I have some on-the-job experience with this demographic because more than a third of the the people I’ve supervised in the past five years fall into this age group. Years working on a college campus was proof positive for me that recent graduates starting their careers have a lot to offer.

I have my workplace faults just like anybody else. But resisting and doubting the ideas and contributions of people half my age isn’t one of them. Recent college graduates work differently and I say we’re lucky that’s true. They have fresh ideas and often the technology savvy to implement them quickly.

I remember some aspects of my 24-year-old self and I can vividly recall my first few jobs after college. I had opinions, new perspectives about solving problems, and I wasn’t shy about sharing them. Most of the people I worked with accepted me, 20-something and all. But now, I wonder, were they amused at my enthusiasm? Did they view my uncluttered approach to my first professional job as naive? Did they take me seriously?

I worry about the 20-somethings with coworkers who are threatened by generational differences. I hope you’ll pay special attention to your own interactions with colleagues, peers, and members of your team. Perhaps you’ll watch out for new college graduates and young professionals you work with and step in to mentor a millennial.

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

4 thoughts on “Watch out for 20-somethings on the job.”

  1. Susan,
    I can’t agree more with this post. If it wasn’t for a department that embraced my crazy 20 year old self and hired me before I finished my degree things just wouldn’t be the same. The Web department has only two of ten employees over the age of 30. And only two our our employees did not start in our department as student assistants. Mentoring is a huge part of our team and our experience has been in line with yours. The 20 somethings are the ones really pushing the envelope and often beg for forgiveness before asking for permission.

    It takes a lot of work and a great community of employees to develop this type of atmosphere. Not every workplace can foster this type of environment for various reasons. But when it does happen it is magical.

    Thanks for this post.

  2. Nick, I agree and, like you, I have been fortunate to work with great teams (past and present).

    Taking it a step further, change is hard. It takes someone with an idea, a spark, an attitude that is not jaded from past disappointments to move organizations forward. Without that, no team does its best work. Anyone, of any age, can come along and shake things up. Usually, new employees play this role. But when you have a newly-hired, 20-something on your team, I say take advantage of it. Mentor, but also listen and learn yourself.

  3. Such good advice here. I think there’s something to be said for youthful energy and bold perspectives driving things forward. I’ve been grateful for my colleagues who were in their 20s and willing to engage, burn the midnight oil and offer insights that I think we were all better for. I benefited mightily from supervisors and mentors who embraced my boldness in my 20s and there are few days that go by that I don’t appreciate that having crossed the barrier into my 30s.

  4. Ron, I think “driving things forward” are the key words here. All teams need people who shake things up, force us to think about improvements, and reminds us that change is possible. Thanks for your comments. Welcome to your 30s!

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