Reflections on Alexandra Levit’s New York Times feature on the coming of age of Generation Z
If you’ve spent time around our LearnServe Fellows, Abroad travelers, and alumni, none of these reflections on Generation Z should be a surprise: They tend to be independent. They don’t wait for their parents to teach them things or tell them how to make decisions. They prefer in-person to online interaction. They are accustomed to engaging with friends all over the world.
Yet, Alexandra Levit shares, organizations are so focused on capturing the talent, energy, and innovation of millennials that they’ve overlooked Generaztion Z rising just behind them.
Sejal Makheja — a LearnServe Fellow from the Holton Arms School quoted in the article — captured it best: these young people “want to take an active role in their communities and their futures. It’s an upbeat group that’s full of passion.”
Excerpts from “Make Way for Generation Z” by Alexandra Levit, published March 28, 2015 in the New York Times.
It took 10 years before most organizations identified the millennials as a talent issue on fire. By now, the oldest millennials are 35. They aren’t children anymore — in fact, a majority of them are leaders with decision-making power and direct reports. While executives have been fretting over the millennials, though, a new generation is growing up behind the scenes — Generation Z (born starting in the mid-90s to the early ’00s depending on whom you ask). Within the next three years, Gen Zers will be the college grads in my audiences, and they are poised to be somewhat different from the millennials.
I’ve now had the opportunity to meet lots of Gen Zers, and here’s what I’ve noticed. To start, they tend to be independent. While a 2015 Census Bureau report found that nearly a third of millennials are still living with their parents, Gen Zers are growing up in a healthier economy and appear eager to be cut loose. They don’t wait for their parents to teach them things or tell them how to make decisions. As demonstrated by the teenagers attending the recent Generation Z Conference at American University in Washington, Gen Z is already out in the world, curious and driven, investigating how to obtain relevant professional experience before college. Despite their obvious technology proficiency, Gen Zers seem to prefer in-person to online interaction and are being schooled in emotional intelligence from a young age. Thanks to social media, they are accustomed to engaging with friends all over the world, so they are well prepared for a global business environment.
Among those who attended was Sejal Makheja, 16, a sophomore who lives in McLean, Va. When she was 14, Sejal founded the Elevator Project, an organization that aims to lift people out of poverty through apprenticeship, vocational training and job placement. She said she went to the Gen Z Conference because she wanted to cultivate the skills she’ll need to take the Elevator Project to a national scale.
“The young people at the [Gen Z] conference want to take an active role in their communities and their futures,” she said. “It’s an upbeat group that’s full of passion.”
Even well-known organizations will have to rethink their recruiting practices to attract this group, and now is the time to start. Those who want to take advantage of Gen Z talent in the future need to develop relationships today with teenagers in grades seven through 12. Get into their schools, provide mentorship and education, and put yourself in a position to help shape their career decisions. They are eager to listen.
Full story on the New York Times website: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/29/jobs/make-way-for-generation-z.html?mwrsm=Email&_r=0