Millennials’ employability and leadership: A Career Services Perspective

By: Isabella Pinucci, Career Service Coordiantor, SDA Bocconi School of Management, Milan, Italy

Isabella PinucciAs a B-school career service director, I interact with Millennials every day – the students I coach and the younger members in my team.

What I really appreciated about the webinar recently hosted by MBA CSEA and presented by Professor Elizabeth Kelan is the insights she was able to provide beyond the tons of stereotypes we usually hear about this generation.

One example: as Millennials are the first generation to be exposed to a very fluid labour market, their careers are a transformation journey. They constantly re-invent themselves, try out new skills and new identities and need continuous learning. I see this reflected in the profiles of many of our current students as well as in their career goals, which are extremely transformational. Looking at our recent alumni, we find more and more often those who develop their own business alongside a “regular” job, or quit strategy consulting to become entrepreneurs. And just recently one of our team members quit the school to pursue a PhD in philosophy in an eastern European country. “I always wanted to do this!” he explained.

On our side, sometimes it’s a challenge to help current students make sense of their non-linear work experience and to narrate their story and aspirations to potential employers in a compelling (and convincing) way.

Interestingly, in her research Elizabeth does not find significant differences in Millennial behaviours and expectations across regions and cultures. She says it’s the access to technology that influences and shapes their common experience, much more than geography. This poses another challenge: how are Millennials functioning in today’s workplace culture, still mostly ruled by Gen. Xers and Baby Boomers, and how can organizations provide an environment where they can thrive and contribute?

Elizabeth recommends (among other things) fluid collaboration patterns – for example opportunities to work in different project teams. Another approach she mentioned is feed-forwarding – that is, providing constructive feedback focused on learning and improvement, without looking too much in the rear view mirror. This is definitely something I’ll keep in mind when coaching students for recruiting processes and with people in my team – and I think it’s effective for everyone, regardless of their age. A very stimulating webinar!

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