Millennials, those born between 1981 and 2000, face many challenges as young professionals, including negative stereotypes and difficulty finding a job after graduation. They also are considered to be the most financially stressed age group.
However, young people are still looking for ways to get involved, develop skills and gain experience, with one-half of Millennials reporting that career advancement opportunities are very important to them.
Organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) have developed initiatives to engage this younger demographic. For example, SHRM established the Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC) to build a community for the next generation of HR leadership.
"The young professional leaders on this council help SHRM connect with our young members and help them succeed in today’s ever changing workplace,” said Elissa O’Brien, vice president of membership at SHRM. “Our young professional members hold the key to the future of the profession.”
This year, SHRM received 328 applications to fill the 15 volunteer positions on the YPAC. Of the individuals chosen, several work for Fortune 500 companies such as McDonald’s, Honda, Kraft Foods and Microsoft. The group represents regions from across the United States.
YPAC members, who can serve up to two years on the council, advocate for SHRM’s young professional members (those under age 35) and provide resources and educational opportunities relevant to young HR professionals today.
According to Ashley Cuthbertson, a second-year YPAC member representing the Northeast, council members play an important role in fulfilling the YPAC mission. Cuthbertson, 28, is from Amherst, N.Y., and works as an HR generalist at Greatbatch, a technology manufacturer.
“Our main responsibility is to serve as liaisons between SHRM and young members,” said Cuthbertson. “We produce support guides and toolkits for SHRM chapters on how to engage young professionals, respond to member questions, organize networking events, plan monthly Twitter chats and volunteer at conferences.”
For Cuthbertson, the YPAC has provided a beneficial experience. “I have learned more about what young people are looking for in a job and why they stay at companies,” she said. “They want to make a difference. It’s not about a title; it’s about the contribution they can make.”
The YPAC strives to help SHRM young professionals become critical players in their organizations.
“We want them to know that there is someone out there that they can relate to. We want to share our experiences, knowledge and successful practices to help them in career development,” said Daisy Alviso, a first-year YPAC member.
Alviso, 32, is from Alamo, Texas, and represents the central Southwest. She works as a senior employee relations specialist at a financial institution.
When asked why she decided to join the YPAC, Alviso said, “It seemed like there were a lot of opportunities to give back to young people and learn more about the trends in HR for my generation.”
To learn more about the SHRM Young Professionals Advisory Council, please visit http://www.shrm.org/communities/yp/pages/default.aspx.
YPAC members Ashley Cuthbertson (left) and Daisy Alviso (right).
YPAC members (from left to right) Ashley Cuthbertson, Daisy Alviso, Chanel Jackson, and Greg Low volunteer at the SHRM 2014 Annual Conference & Exposition.