Natasha Nicholson says today’s graduating Millennial students will be working with four generations in the U.S. work force. Communicating with these various generations presents unique challenges for communication/PR professionals, both personally and professionally.
And that was just the beginning.
Natasha was keynote speaker at Towson’s Student PR Group’s annual Networking Fair April 30. The Fair links soon-to-be graduates with employers and undergrads with sources of internships. Participating organizations provide a wide array of useful information, services, and advice and counsel, such as cover letter and resume critiques, practice interviewing, and general job-related advice, along with real jobs and internships
But the highlight of the event was Nicholson. The students loved her, and for good reason. Natasha is an accomplished professional, but she is warm and accessible, traits lacking in so many who talk down to students. Not Natasha. She is a worthy role model.
Natasha manages IABC’s Knowledge Center as Vice President of Publishing and Research at IABC headquarters in San Francisco. She is also executive editor of IABC’s Communication World magazine and its electronic supplement, CW Online.
Natasha’s overall message was the value that communication bring to organizations. She outlined the work place that soon-to-be May graduates will face. “Regarding communication, each generation has its preferred method, speed, and frequency,” Natasha says, “at which they want to receive messages. These range from Traditionalists who prefer face-to-face and print to Generation Yers who prefer constant online communication.”
“There is a definite technolgy gap, ” Natasha says. “Today’s graduates are quite familiar with fast-changing technology that older generations are not as comfortable with.”
Potential conflict between the generations in the workplace centers on leadership, Natasha says. “Baby Boomers hold most management and leadership positions in organizations. As this generation prepares to retire, they are followed by a much smaller Generation X. Companies are scrambling to find and retain talent to fill leadership positions.”
The implications for younger workers is to acquire and refine leadership skills needed for management positions, so when the time comes, you’ll be ready.
Natasha warned Towson Mass Comm and Comm Studies students attending the Fair to be careful of stereotypes. “Younger generations face the perception that they are less loyal to their employers than their predecessors are,” she says. “Younger workers must combat stereotypes of being the ‘entitled generation’.” Natasha advises students to pay their dues — take entry levels jobs, have a good work ethic, positive attitude, and don’t complain. Take whatever job you are assigned and do it well. Boomers did. They expect you to do the same, or prove some of the negative stereotypes about you.”
In order to become part of the new workforce, Natasha suggests that students:
- Ask to sit in on important meetings and be copied on relevant correspondence.
- Read through old files and the organization’s Website that don’t directly relate to your job.
- Volunteer to help co-workers with their important projects.
- Volunteer for an association, organization, chamber of commerce or other entity that will help you gain experience.
- Demonstrate initiative without being a pest. Go beyond what is expected of you and provide help above and beyond when you can.
- Ask for opportunities, actively seeking out ways to contribute.
- Accept the entry level job as a new graduate. You will work your way up soon enough. Pay your workplace dues and do each job well, then you will get more and better assignments.
- Have a positive, can-do attitude.
- Don’t complain.
- Be peaceful and calm (This last point was suggested by Natasha’s precocious 11-year-old son Andy. Point well taken, Andy).