Volunteer to Prepare the Next Generation

Every 12.6 seconds, a blog about generational differences is written. Ok, I made that up, but you get my point. Much is written about what is wrong with the expectations of generations, but there needs to be more action around what we can do to make it better. As HR and business professionals, we need to take a more active role in preparing future generations for expectations in the workplace.

I recently had the good fortune to speak to about 900 students at Muncie Central High School in Muncie, Indiana. I was initially referred to Lisa Letsinger, chairperson of the Business Administration office, by my brother. He sells scholastic products to high schools in Indiana and works closely with Lisa and the school staff.  Lisa works hard to prepare her business and technology students for situations outside of the classroom.  She brings in guest speakers, from various professions, to speak to her students about preparing for a career after high school. She was discussing a future topic about social media and the impacts on college applications with my brother and he referenced a previous blog I had written here

Lisa contacted me initially to speak to her class of 25 students. After I agreed to speak to her class, she contacted me and said I would be speaking to the entire student population. The last time I spoke to a group of 900 people was, um, well, never, but, I believe in stepping out of the comfort zone, so I agreed to do it.

I spoke to the students about using social media to their advantage when applying for college or for a job. I stressed the importance of being aware of your online image and how others are watching and judging. I showed some examples of some successful uses of social media to find a job and also showed some failures.  The audience was engaged and, at the end, many students stayed around to ask questions on how they can improve their digital footprint and stand out in a positive way.  

In a recent Reuter’s article, 42 percent of college grads feel they need an advanced degree to further their career. Many are underemployed and not working in their field of study. We are always demanding these graduates get more training or learn more in college. We complain about generations not being prepared for the workplace, but what are we doing about it?  We expect high schools, trade schools, colleges and universities to know exactly what we are looking for.

Lisa is doing a fantastic job to prepare her students for the “real world.” But great teachers like Lisa can't do it alone. I know parental involvement is key, but I don't need to tell you that this isn’t always the case. As long as GenX and the Boomers are still in the workplace, let's do something about it instead of complaining. Yes, it makes a great blog post and sells a lot of seminars, but let’s put some of that into action. If you are an employer looking to hire a specific skillset, reach out to where you would search for entry-level talent. Work with the faculty and let them know what you are looking for.

Spend your time volunteering and making a difference. And GenY, you start, too, because you will be writing the same things about the next generations. You can bookmark this post and thank me for it in 15 years.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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