How to Win Friends and Influence ‘Millennials’

Opinion Piece Written By By The Grand Student Survey Team — Ronja Sen | Tuesday, 15 May 2018.

Despite popular belief – or perhaps the belief of those who can’t figure out flight mode on their iPhones – millennials and the youth of today are inevitably the most creative, innovative and motivated sect of humanity yet.  More and more millennials are speaking out against the labels of laziness, rudeness, ungratefulness and impatience thrust upon them – and rightly so.

  1. The Great Millennial Issue

If you’ve seen the famous Simon Sinek video on millennials, then you know that there’s little one can do about the circumstances in which they are raised. Growing up in a digitised age means ultra-convenience, instant gratification and sometimes a tendency to give all those around you the same attention – whether they’re physically with you or not.

So, what does this mean for those who have grown up in a digital age?

Sinek argues that the dependency on social media that millennials have can be compared to the dopamine effects obtained from alcohol use and gambling. Sinek argues that the gratification that comes from likes and attention on social media is temporary relief from the anxieties of adolescence – and having such easy access to this model of relief has hindered the progress of and desire for soft skills, people skills and more importantly, deep and meaningful relationships. He suggests that the habits that millennials have of seeking attention for superficial conversation and compliments doesn’t do any favours for their future, and that corporations and employers have an onus to fine-tune these skills for millennials. Whether corporations are adapting to this onus or remaining traditional is a different story.

  1. The (Actual) Millennial Condition | How to Win Friends

Contrast this to that famous millennial Ted talk by Keevin O’Rourke.

O’Rourke is a founding partner of creative agency Monday Creations, and proud millennial. In his Ted talk, he hones in on the great millennial debate from a millennial’s perspective, highlighting that millennials are motivated, creative free-thinkers who just want to be happy. He identifies the very ideals that today’s generation is not afraid to standardise. These ideals are things such as autonomy over micro-management, and meaning over money. O’Rourke states that millennials want autonomy in their work and thrive in an interconnected team. They work well when they work for someone that they are passionate about, doing work that they are passionate about. This means that millennials place strong value on fulfilment at work – more so than competitive remuneration. This is backed up by professional opinions too, an example being Spencer Stuart’s search consultant highlighting that “today people work for you because they want to, not because they have to.”

If we can change our attitudes towards millennials through understanding these qualities about them, we will foster collaboration, empowerment, positivity and overall success. In other words, our attitudes towards millennials adapted to this understanding will allow us to be friends with millennials – an entire upcoming generation that we will inevitably deal with in the pretty immediate future.

  1. How to Influence Millennials 

The Millennial Condition above actually highlights the irony of millennials – urging to create meaningful impact in life more than any generation before, yet lacking the soft skills more than any generation before to develop meaningful relationships. That’s where initiatives in work experience for Gen Z and millennials comes into play. That’s what works through the Grand Projects – we highlight the importance of work experience for our younger generation from a young age to give them the self-confidence, open-mindedness and ease in performing the tasks required to find their ideal work in life. This comes in the form of soft skills – the ability to make friends in all contexts through deeper relationships. And guess what, this generation is hungry to learn.

Furthermore, Gen Z needs work experience more than any generation before. Regardless of their ideals as employees, it is no secret that unemployment is rife. As the job market tightens around the world, companies have already started new recruitment processes that vary to anything ever used before. Work experience in schooling years indicates and fosters the ‘creativity, willingness to work hard, and love of learning’ that employers are now looking for, as Accenture’s head of global recruiting remarked. Research indicates that young people still use tactics similar to their older counterparts despite increased competition for entry-level jobs as well as desire for previous experience even for these entry-level jobs. Yet, the  talk of networking, contacting employers directly and being able to create real relationships is seemingly the edge in landing relevant jobs.

Given the block that this millennial generation is facing in building those relationships in their personal life, work experience in their student years closes the gap between wanting/needing and creating/building meaningful relationships.

So, TL;DR:

  1. Growing up in a digitised age means a lack of soft skills;
  2. Millennials are not lazy, they’re actually the coolest humans yet and want to do something significant in life;
  3. Companies have an onus to help the incoming generation ace millennials’ soft skills;

And, school students need work experience because:

  1. Work experience = confidence and self-image;
  2. Work experience = companies helping to ace millennials’ soft skills;
  3. Work experience = demonstrating skills that are desirable in the market; and
  4. Work experience = closing the gap between potential and action.

In a nutshell, we have the ability to positively influence millennials through work experience. Befriend them, and teach them how to be friends too. Do that with a positive, enthusiastic and genuine attitude, and pretty soon, you will find that you hold the influence of the future of work.

5 Reasons Why Business Should Embrace Work Experience

5 Reasons Why Business Should Embrace Work Experience

Opinion Piece Written By By The Grand Student Survey Team — Stephanie Holland and Dhawal Nayak | Updated February 23, 2018.

To be effective in a global economy, businesses need to adopt and support work experience programs for students.

In Australia, we have many industry leaders such as the Australian Computer Society, QMI Solutions Group, MEGT, Blue Dog, Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ) and others advocating for and connecting young Australians with work experience opportunities. These industry partners and the businesses associated with them understand the importance of work-ready graduates.

We now more than ever need to embrace the fact that world of work is changing. Without work-ready graduates, employers will struggle to recruit and retain the vital skills they need for the future of their business.

There are many reasons businesses should embrace, enable and engage the younger generation. The Generation Next aka GenZ, born after 1995 are shaped differently, then generation Y. They have different characteristics, expectations and communication styles — therefore engaging them effectively requires a new approach, as cited by an education future report from McCrindle.

1. Future of Work

Future of Work is not just a buzzword, it is an evolutionary process. Changing industry demands requires us to bring new generation minds in the business. An executive briefing written by James Manyika, Chairman and Director of McKinsey Global Institute stated, ‘The world of work is in a state of flux, which is causing considerable anxiety — and with good reason’.

Generation Z is the future of the global economy, and that future is already at our doorstep. Bringing students into the workforce, to gain an understanding of their way of being and working gives any business an advantage. The Everything Guide To Gen Z, a report from Vision Critical stated that ‘By 2018, GenZ will control $200 billion in direct spending. In the meantime, they influence more than $600 billion in spending by their parents.’

Work is changing slowly, but surely. Let’s engage students from the early stages of their career.

2. Attracting right talent

Some industries in Australia could be in trouble soon when it comes to finding talent. One example of this is the mining industry. An article by Ben Creagh of Australian Mining, says that the ‘University of Western Australia (UWA) was forecasting only eight students would graduate as mining engineers in 2018.’ The article also mentions that ‘enrolments for mining engineering at the University of New South Wales were expected to be the lowest in 40 years.’

‘These worrying forecasts surfaced as mining in Australia started to see skills shortages emerge in vital areas during the second half of 2017, including engineering,’ Creagh writes.

It has become more important than ever before to have right people working for your business. Everyone has talent and it is about finding the right chemistry between the employees and organisation, says Roberta Matuson, in her new book named Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace that Attracts and Keeps the Best.

Talent is often overlooked because of biases. People with the best qualification and CV always had a competitive advantage. Some businesses even use pattern recognition tools to onboard best talent. Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup said pattern recognition tools have been OK for quite a while, however, ‘as the world is getting more and more unstable and disruptive, patterns aren’t holding.’. ‘The things that made you successful in past don’t make you successful in future, and it’s produced a crisis, a vacuum.’

Work experience enables employers to build and nurture a new talent pool for future job opportunities through exposing bright young minds to an organisation’s culture.

3. Turnover

Implementing work experience programmes has shown to help turnover within organisations. Work experience can give students a chance to see if they enjoy a certain role. It’s a chance to find the best match to a company’s culture and mission. This ‘try-before-you-hire’ approach can have huge benefits on both sides, increasing the chance of finding the right person before they enter an organisation as a full-time employee.

Students who had completed an internship or work experience are better at making effective career decisions than those who did not. A study found this is because students could better distinguish their own personal values and how this affects their career.

4. Participation in an ecosystem

Let’s look at the big picture. An article written for The Conversation mentions that ‘students who completed internships as part of their university degree are better at making career decisions and are more satisfied with their career choices.’ The more businesses that participate in offering internships and work experience, the more we are contributing to a healthier career ecosystem.

The article continues, ‘In an era of intense global competition for jobs, being able to recruit and retain graduates who are committed, satisfied and productive is critical for any business.’

So, it’s crucial that students get experience to figure out what they like and don’t like, discover different job roles, and grow their professional network. Businesses are a crucial part of improving this ecosystem, for everyone involved.

5. Work experience programme

Now, more than ever, you can find effective and structured work experience programs in all different industries. Australian Computer Society, QMI Solutions, Govt. and many other educators have implemented a structured work experience process. The stereotype of students making tea, coffee, and cleaning floors has largely been overcome due more due diligence from educators.

The Australian government rolled out the National Work Experience Programme’ which is part of jobactive. ‘It is a work experience programme which places job seekers in real life work experience placements. It helps students gain experience and confidence while demonstrating skills to potential employers’ — Australian Government, Department of Jobs and Small Business.

Many businesses that I’ve spoken to recently are working to create project-based programs integrating work experience for students.

The Grand Student Survey is actively working with Australian businesses to understand how to create the best outcomes and keep up with the changing industry demands.

What steps is your business taking to participate in work experience opportunities?

Modern Student Dilemmas: Work Experience or Gap Year?

Modern Student Dilemmas: Work Experience or Gap Year?

Opinion Piece Written By Megan McMahon, The Grand Student Survey Team

A decision each round of graduating students is faced with, but what is really the best option?

There is nothing wrong with a gap year. It’s a chance to stop and breathe after 12 years of schooling and to finally think about where one is going. But, the question remains, what would happen if work experience were easier to come by? Would fewer students take the gap year and go straight into tertiary education; or would they take the break anyway, but with a clearer, more achievable goal in mind?

The problem is that in Australia, the variety and amount of work experience for school-aged students is limited, which leaves graduating students with little to no idea of what the possible career options are, and how they are supposed to get there. This is one of the reasons as to why gap years are seen as a plausible option for students who don’t have a clear direction after graduation; working for a year can supply young adults with more life skills than anything in high school can. While this is far from being a bad option, the Australian school system can do better.

The state of work experience in Australia

Despite Australia’s reputation as ‘the lucky country’, this idea is seriously lacking in the education system. A recent study completed by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), ranked Australia’s quality of education at 39 out of the 41 nations included in the study. Would having more opportunities for work experience help Australia improve their ranking?

In Finland, the top ranking country in the study, upper secondary students choose whether they continue on an academic pathway, focusing on preparations for the university, or if they want to receive training to develop vocational competence. This option leaves them better prepared for the workforce, and life after high school, as well as allowing them to get more of a feel for what career path they would most enjoy and be best suited to. It would also leave them better prepared and more capable of finding work straight out of school if that were the intention. This in Australia, is a lot harder to come by; and that needs to change.

The Foundation of Young Australians (FYA) hypothesized that by 2030, workers will be spending at least 30% more of their workday learning than today’s workers do. The FYA report states, “Today’s young people will need to spend more hours learning on the job than ever before… continuous learning will be part of our everyday engagement in work.”

If Australia were to follow this approach, not only would graduating students have more experience in the workforce, but it would also greatly benefit Australia’s education system. Students would be using their classroom skills in real work environments, allowing them to excel in their own way, and find a purpose for their learning.

Where ‘gap years’ fit in

Gap years tend to have a reputation of dragging students away from their studies, with the older generation often suggesting that a year off will leave students unmotivated and uninspired. This notion, confirmed by Bob Clagett, the Dean of Admissions at Middlebury College in America says, “the prevailing wisdom is that kids are going to lose their hard-earned study skills if they take a gap year”. However, Clagett wholeheartedly disagreed with this belief, saying that “[taking a gap year can] lead to a much more productive experience once they are enrolled in college since those students will frequently be more mature, more focused, and more aware of what they want to do with their college education.”

Middlebury College isn’t the only educational institution in favour students taking a gap year. In fact, there is a long list of prestigious schools such as Harvard University, Princeton University and Columbia University that also support the idea of gap years.

Furthermore, a study referenced in The Australian found that out of 5000 Australian students graduating in 2005, of 2900 that had planned on going to university, almost 700 students had not done so by the time they were 23. However, out of 1500 who did not have any set plan for after school, approximately 700 students had enrolled in university by 2010. Another 180 students enrolled after planning to work, doing an apprenticeship or partaking in other kinds of vocational training.

John Ross, the author of the article, summarized the evidence, stating that a post-school stint of work and travelling is more likely to encourage young people to go to university than turn them off the idea, “This study helps prove that a gap year does not demotivate students from returning to their studies. It also affirms that just because a student intends on going to university, does not mean that all will go according to plan.”

So which is optimal?

Students take gap years for a number of reasons: to work to save money, to travel, to rest and to figure out their next step. Sometimes gap years are part of the plan, and sometimes they are used as the chance to come up with the plan.

Work experience would help greatly with the students who struggle with direction, those who have passion but don’t know how to use or channel it. Work experience is the key. It is the only way that students can get a feel for their desired workplace environments before they graduate, and give them something to work towards through the rest of their student careers.

The final decision is really left to each individual student and their individual needs. Do they need to formulate direction early-on with the help of work experience? Do they need a chance to breathe and find the way they want to go? Or, do they make the best of both possibilities and work it out from there?

Both have their pros and cons, but the question will always remain; which is the best option for you?

Top 5 Ways Decision-Making Has Changed for Students

Top 5 Ways Decision-Making Has Changed for Students

The world is advancing faster than we could have imagined. Students today often feel a lack of direction when it comes to preparing for the future. We are facing hard (decision-making) questions about the future of work that do not yet have a solid answer. Jobs today are changing at such rate that it’s has been difficult for the emerging Australians to keep in trend.

When we asked students — What are your plans after finishing school? we got a lot of responses like;

I’m confused, I don’t know where I start

I would like to do drama and theatre, but there is no industry

I’ve thought a little bit about it but there’s only so much you can think about it before you start panicking!

It’s really hard to like to find what I want to do because there are so many things I want to do

Does this feel familiar to you? What was your answer when someone asked you those questions?

I believe we all went through this ‘phase’ of growing up — where we were unsure of what we wanted in life and for our future. We questioned our skills — our values, and how those apply to finding a job we would enjoy. After all, on average we spend one-third of our lives at work.

It’s natural that we feel pressure during these days of our adolescence.

‘Not all those who wander are lost’

– J.R.R. Tolkien

In my assessment, there are few key reasons why students struggle when it comes to deciding their career, pathway, or next move. The top five listed below are amongst few that resonates with me;

1. Paralyzed by Choice

Let me illustrate an example here. I recently had to buy presents for a friend’s baby shower. Since I am always working I didn’t have time to drive around and shop for the present. So just like everyone I went online and started browsing for the baby shower present. Amazon and eBay had a great selection online all in one place. Amazon recommended me their ‘Top Rated Baby Gifts’ and I kid you not — it had just over 40,000 results.

First I was just browsing through causally — to help decide among the choices, I could view people’s reviews and the product rating. The freedom of choice made me feel I was in control. Nearly an hour later, after having browsed hundred of items, read countless contradictory reviews and pondering far too many choices, I was confused and exhausted.

Barry Schwartz, an American author wrote a book calls — The Paradox of Choice, where he compares the choices we are faced with in almost all areas of life, including education. In his own words, Barry express his views on current education system –

‘Today, the modern institution of higher learning offers a wide array of different “goods” and allows, even encourages, students — the “customers” — to shop around until they find what they like. Individual customers are free to “purchase” whatever bundles of knowledge they want, and the university provides whatever its customers demand. In some rather prestigious institutions, this shopping-mall view has been carried to an extreme.’

Schwartz continues, ‘In the first few weeks of classes, students sample the merchandise. They go to a class, stay ten minutes to see what the professor is like, then walk out, often in the middle of the professor’s sentence, to try another class. Students come and go in and out of classes just as browsers go in and out of stores in a mall. ‘You’ve got ten minutes,’ the students seem to be saying, ‘to show me what you’ve got. So give it your best shot.’

The bottom line is that students today are required to make choices about education that may affect them for the rest of their lives. And they are required to make these choices at a point in their intellectual development where they may lack the experience to make the decision.

‘As the number of options increases, the costs, in time and effort, of gathering the information needed to make a good choice also increase,’ writes Schwartz. ‘The level of certainty people have about their choice decreases. And the anticipation that they will regret their choice increases.’

2. Content Overload

Who would have thought learning can have a side effect — well it’s true. Many researchers have agreed digesting information without proper structure or process can experience ‘information overload’ or ‘cognitive overload’ as the neuroscientists would say. Saga Briggs from Open Colleges talks about the concept of ‘INFOBESITY’ –

“Just as our eyes are sometimes larger than our stomachs, our interest can be significantly greater than our brain capacity.”

The word ‘Information Overload’ was coined by Bertram Gross and first recorded use by the futurologist Alvin Toffler in 1970. Alvin predicted that the rapidly increasing amounts of information being produced would eventually cause people problems.

Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School has spent more than a decade studying the work habits of 238 people, collecting a total of 12,000 diary entries between them. She finds that focus and creativity are connected. Students are more likely to be creative if they are allowed to focus on something for some time without interruptions. If constantly interrupted or forced, they are less likely to be creative. Overload can also make students less productive. David Meyer, of the University of Michigan, has shown that people who complete certain tasks in parallel take much longer and make many more errors than people who complete the same tasks in sequence.

The root of the problem is that, although computer processing and memory are increasing all the time, the humans that must use the information are not getting any faster. Effectively, the human mind acts as a bottleneck in the process.

3. Disruptive Future of Work

An unchanging assessment about work is that it is changing. Disruption is a word that usually links with Innovation. We have been innovating since time began and technological change are not new, but changes are now happening at a scale and speed that is unprecedented. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that

“up to 30% of work activities globally could be displaced through automation by 2030, with a midpoint of 15 percent.”

As per the report, humans are estimated to be increasingly exposed to automation — which will bring both opportunities as well as challenges. Students are uncertain about the future ahead. In the future of work — automation and artificial intelligence will replace humans — jobs, as we know them today, will be somewhat obsolete. That’s an obvious worry that affects the decision-making process and makes it difficult for emerging students.

I think I’ve been avoiding it a lot — I’ve thought a little bit about it but there’s only so much you can think about it before you start panicking — about everything!

—  a comment from a Grade 12 student.

I believe the uncertainty and overwhelming excitement about the future, and the ever-changing landscape of work makes students feel disrupted.

4. Personal Factors

There are a lot of factors that can influence Students’ decision-making ability. While growing through adolescence can be difficult — decisions are still required of them. Some factors in the mix include;

  1. Value vs. Passion — We’ve all experienced the feeling of conflict, when we have to decide on value proposition offered that contradicts our interests or passions. For example “I would like to be a dance teacher, but the pay isn’t enough to raise a family”.
  2. Avoiding decision making — During adolescence, many defaults to the view that it’s easier if someone made choices for you. Students avoid making decisions in hope that it will go away.
  3. Multiple interests — Wanting to experience many different things can make the choice harder for students. When I asked a year 11 student what her interest was, she answered — “ I am really interested in a lot of things, like boxing, acting, legal studies.”
  4. Fear — Fear of the unknown is often the most difficult to deal with. Students are left wondering whether pursuing a certain course or pathway which will help them get ahead in life, which can build a level of anxiety and fear. Fear of making a bad decision can also influence decision making.
  5. Guidance — Poor guidance can contribute to difficulty with decision making. Parents and guardians aren’t always able to weigh-in on future work trends. They find it difficult to provide advice and may lead to a decision made poorly or not made at all.

5. Experience

Students can lack confidence in decision-making abilities due to a lack of experience. According to — Students have two kinds of thinking systems, which are referred to as“hot” and “cold”. Both have quite opposite characteristics; Hot thinking is intuitive, automatic, and reactive and Cold thinking helps them learn to analyze, reflect, and integrate complex ideas. Most students in their adolescence develop strong cold thinking skills like reasoning and reflection but lack the experience to conduct hot thinking.

I believe having more experience enhances your decision-making ability. Having an experience in something can change the way we will behave in future decisions. For example, we know not to put our hands in or near the fire once we experience the burn. Once we have experienced a task or an activity we know the process, input and the output, which give us more information for future decisions.

“This is a generation that has been ‘syllabused’ through their lives”, says Martin Artim, vice president at Enterprise, in an article written by The Washington Post. Artim is referring to how often decisions are made for students, leaving them unable to make decisions for themselves.

It is important to be able to play out your career aspirations in real life. Students in Australia are largely ill-equipped to find work experience. Many are confused about where to start, help and resources are spread out, and sometimes it’s left to them alone.

What’s your top piece of advice for making better decisions?

Get Experience – While You’re Studying

Get Experience – While You’re Studying

Education isn’t simply about what you learn in the classroom.

We all know how important life experience is ― how it defines us as humans, helps us understand our inherent values and makes us who we are today.

They say,

We grow through our experiences in life!
― (usually someone important).

Education is important, I don’t disagree. So is work experience ― however, I believe that one should seek the opportunity to get into the industry while they are still in school. At 15 years old, you may not know what you want, what you enjoy, where your passion lies, your values or what “lights you up” ― that’s just normal. I mean, most of us feel like we don’t know what we are doing – and we often change direction depending on the circumstance and opportunities we come across.

I would like to talk about how important it is to acquire work experience. I believe we can motivate students as early as high school to explore the workspace ― and grab real experience. This experience would better equip students to ask, and answer, the following questions for themselves:

  • What do I like about the job?
  • What don’t I like about the job?
  • Can I see myself doing the job on an everyday basis?
  • Do my values align with the kind of work they do?

and many more…

We are living in the 21st century – the “Ideas Economy”. The next generation preparing to enter the workforce is known as the Global Generation (Gen Z). It is comprised of around 20% of Australia’s population. A research conducted by Vision Critical, The Everything Guide to Generation Z states, “Generation Z is mature beyond its years. The words they use most commonly to describe their state of mind include happy, confident, motivated and excited ― just what anyone would hope for a generation now coming into its own.”

Gen Z is likely to be our most entrepreneurial generation, and given the right opportunities will help them discover where their passion lies. Experience will build confidence – which allows students to pursue a path and steer in the direction best suited for them

I remember when I was first entering the workforce, every employer I met, every door I knocked, I got the same response – “No experience, No job” ― a catch-22. At the time I realised what I had to do ― get work experience!

I did it the hard way, it took some time, several disappointing moments but at the end, it’s worth sharing my experience to help others with their journey.

I believe work experience allows the next generation to construct their own mindset and help them make more well-rounded decisions.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
― Mark Twain

I’m currently heading up a project called “The Grand Student Survey”.  Our goal is to empower young emerging Australians by providing real work experience opportunity in the area of their interest. We are working with schools, local businesses and industry partners.

Our mission to facilitate connections between students, schools, businesses and the community. Let’s work collaboratively to support them, help find right connections, provide mentorship, and opportunities to experience.

The possibilities are endless when you empower students to be lifelong learners.