Pomp and Circumstance: Who is the Class of 2012?
Posted by Steve Kleber on Feb 28, 2012
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A recent Ad Age article discussed the newest generation of employees and outlined a few distinguishing characteristics of the class of 2012. As these graduates prepare to walk across the commencement stage and into the workforce, I’d like to take the opportunity to reflect and elaborate on some of the key points raised by Beth Ann Kaminkow.
The Great Recession has plagued the majority of these graduates’ college careers. As they were entering college, the economy took a nose dive and since then, they have studied and seen firsthand how the recession has affected economies of every scale. Each year students watched the upperclassman ahead of them struggle to find jobs, only to remain unemployed long after graduation. College career centers have subsequently responded by preparing students for the tough job market. These young adults know that jobs are hard to find, and they’ve been preparing for it. They’ve been refining their knowledge, gaining experience wherever they can, polishing their resumes and interview skills, and starting the job search early. The class of 2012 knows they need to make themselves stand out from the crowd, and many of them will.
They’re also ready for a career… not a job. Future graduates want job security and they’re willing to be loyal if employers give them a reason to be. Employers need to recognize this and give these bright-eyed graduates a reason to stay with their company for many years to come. Remember that many of these young folks idolize Google, with its modern campus, collaborative work environment, and benefits galore, as the best place to work.
While they don’t expect every employer to be just like Google, we can all learn from its model. Employees like benefits, they like flexibility, and most of all, they like to be treated well.
And speaking of Google, we cannot forget that this is the generation who has grown up with technology. Most of these students have had computers in their classrooms since first grade and a computer (or two or three) in the home has always been the norm. They like technology and they’re good at using it. Information has always traveled a little faster for this generation with its prolific use of the internet, smart phones, and portable devices. These young adults like information on demand and consequently have lower patience levels for slow-moving processes and people. Employers should embrace this need for information. They need to encourage young employees to continue to seek new information and bring new ideas to the table. But they also need to address the inevitable tensions between young employees and other generations who are used to a slower-moving, less technology-driven environment. Bringing different generations together in the work place is always a challenge, but is incredibly rewarding when done correctly.
Congratulations to the class of 2012! We look forward to working with you and seeing the amazing things you will accomplish in your careers.