I read a BBC article yesterday on how millennial preferences are driving recruiting differences for graduate student hiring for firms such as KPMG, Goldman Sachs, and Deloitte.
These are folks that can be impatient and self-serving (require instant feedback and reassurance), yet they are also the fuel that drives the engines of firms that need their grunt work. The question is: Can they do grunt work? Will they stick around for the hours required to get them up to speed for what they did not learn in education?
I say this as universities make it far too easy for them these days to graduate with little or no empirical skills. Firms now have to retrain these graduates to be the kind of workers they need, which is a larger investment than they have had to make in the past, because of the millennial expectations on how they work and what they do.
This article, also published on the BBC website, gives part of the issue. I just taught a summer school class for a group of study abroad students visiting here in Belgium from the US. They found two things difficult about doing an internship: being in the workplace for a full workday and not being told exactly what to do. They also felt that they were not important enough to the organisation (as interns). One of them commented they felt irritated that they could have spent their time on something else personal when in a slow period in the office. And dressing for work, vs comfortable clothing, was something else they had to get used to. Granted these were US students in an international environment, but it was more than a growing up issue, it was an expectation that work and personal life are one in the same thing. And that they have immediate value to the organisation on day one and should be properly cared for. I have to admit that in an organisation, being welcomed on the first day and made to feel part of the organisation is important in adapting to the culture of the firm.
My point is that we do not teach students how to succeed in the workplace, we only teach them basic skills. Doctors are trained in medical schools, but intern in hospitals. Lawyers come from law schools, but do initial stages with law firms. So why don’t we have a transition programme for business students beyond trainee programmes for specific fields? It is fairly clear to me that if we want the millennials to help us adapt the future of work for the next generation, we need to provide programmes to get them integrated and engaging so we can change the culture to suit both parties going forward.
Just my two Euro cents.