Career Confessions from Gen Z: Welcome to the Workforce!

Within the next month, several college students will be graduating and entering the workforce. This post is targeted towards you.

First of all, if you’re about to graduate and haven’t found a job yet, don’t freak out. It’s hard to land a full-time position before you graduate. Many businesses are looking to get employees in right away and may be turned off by the fact that you can’t start until after graduation. If you find a good company and they really want you, they will hold the job for you.

Landing your first full-time position after graduation is also difficult because you don’t have much experience yet. However, you are graduating at a great time. The economy is good, and companies are short on employees.

Secondly, working a full-time job is so much different than college. You’ve been in school for at least the last 15 years, but sitting at a desk for eight plus hours a day is very different.

While you were in school you sat in class most of the day and then came home to do homework at night. When you start out in an entry-level job, you will probably not have to bring work home every night or on the weekends. Sure, this may happen occasionally, but it won’t be as constant as homework was in school.

With this being said, you will probably have more free time in the evenings, but being at work all day is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting so you may not be up for doing much with your additional free time.

I consider myself an extrovert, but by the end of the day I don’t want to interact with people anymore because that is what I spent the last eight hours doing.  When you are at work you have to constantly be “on” because the phone will ring, or someone could walk into your office at any point and you need to be prepared.

While in school you were also always surrounded by people your age.  This is not the case when you first enter the workforce. Since our generation is just entering the workforce, finding coworkers our age is few and far between.

All of my coworkers are married and have kids, but I’ve gotten used to hearing stories about their kids and enjoy it. Having friends at work is great, but it’s also important to have friends outside of work too in order to separate yourself from work sometimes.

For those of you about to graduate from college, congratulations!  Welcome to the real world. It is time to start “adulting!”


Mallory Armbrustmacher graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2017 with a BA in Human Resource Management. She is an HR Generalist with the State of Michigan, Talent and Economic Development Department Human Resource Office, where she coordinates ADA Reasonable Accommodations and Ergonomic Assessments. In addition, she takes the lead on various special projects, conducts new employee orientations, processes payroll, and assists in labor relations, classifications, and selection. She is currently studying for the SHRM-CP exam, but also loves spending time with her family and friends, playing games, and cooking.

Career Confessions of Gen Z: Three Golden Culture Rules During Organisational Growth

During periods of growth in your organisation, maintaining your corporate culture and values can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, obstacles you could hurdle.

Watching a business take off in front you can be an awe-inspiring. As companies grow, lots of things start happening. If you’re building or reinforcing a water-tight corporate culture, it can be hard to know where you should be focusing your energy and time.

If you can do the following three things you’ll be setting yourself up for the next level.

UNDERSTAND YOU’RE IN IT FOR THE LONG-HAUL

This first rule is quite simple: acknowledge this is a long-term play. During times of growth it may be difficult to scale your investment into corporate culture. The ultimate corporate financial performance that comes from company values and culture done right can be a tempting revenue stream to dip into and misallocate elsewhere.

You have to stay disciplined (especially in the early days) and understand that your foundational culture and values are what got you to where you are. With the right scaling of investment with growth, it’s what will continue to take you to the next level.

GRIT THROUGH GROWING PAINS

The second rule of maintaining company culture during periods of growth is being at peace with the unavoidable changes that take place. If you’re anything like me, and you’re proud of your company culture, you’ll be trying your damned hardest to maintain it.

You’ll want to preserve those same values and feelings that came with being smaller. Your natural instinct will for sure be to impart your passion for the culture into every employee on the books.

However, if you can’t accept that not everyone is going to love it as much as you do, day in and day out, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. Work with, not against, the idea that your employees will never love it as much as you do. Take your satisfaction from those who love it 80% or 60% or even just a fraction as much as you do and you’ll be winning.

DON’T GO AT IT ALONE

If you’re at the helm, don’t try to maintain your corporate culture by yourself. There will be times when it’s better to let your team to step up. Identify a small number of influential leaders who are most aligned and invested in the cultural vision.

By allowing these ambassadors to build the culture and also engage with their peers autonomously, changing faces aren’t left behind and instead become catalysts for positive evolution.

There’s so many different routes your organisation can take, but if you work with these three golden rules you can make great things happen.


Josh Milton-Edwards is a fledgling HR professional mad about all things culture, engagement and wellbeing. I work for an award winning best-practice culture department based in the UK. Soaking up every last bit of the experience before completing my HRM degree in 2019/20. Aiming high and can’t wait to see what more opportunities arise for the taking!

Career Confessions of Gen Z – The Bass Player

Have you seen the movie Almost Famous? It’s a great movie but I’ve always struggled with watching the movie’s fictitious band, Stillwater, head towards disaster as they come to grips with fame.

The infighting of the band members is unnerving. The guitarist has a charisma that sets him apart from his band mates, and the lead singer is pissed that he isn’t recognized as the “front man”. There are a few other members of the band as well, but they don’t matter in the grand scheme. Long-term success of the band hinges on the tumultuous relationship between the guitarist and singer.

A while ago, I had the fortune of meeting three impressive individuals at a conference. These individuals are positioned incredibly well to bring a much needed, and very disruptive, product to an industry. They had great chemistry as a team and gave a well-polished elevator pitch as a three piece.

As I watched them woo a string of investors, I was trying to figure out the characteristics that made this team particularly impressive. Then, it hit me as I was having a sidebar with two of the members.

We were talking about the role each member played. In the midst of the explanation, one of the members excitedly blurted out that they were like the bass player of the “band”. The other member contested, saying that it was in fact themself that played the role of bass player. Some friendly jabs were thrown, and that’s when it hit me.

This band of innovators will continue be successful together because they were arguing about which member was the bass player. Not because they didn’t want to be the bass player, but because they were humble enough to each feel and understand that the bass player played as integral a role as the front person.

Seriously, who the hell wants to be the bass player?

Don’t get me wrong, I love all things music, and as a result, tremendously respect the role of the bass player.

If you’d like to geek out with me for a moment – a few favs among so many others include: John Paul Jones, Flea, Krist Novoselic, Sting, anything relative to reggae or jazz – but I digress. Bass players drive the song, and nothing can replace an iconic bass line.

Despite this, I’d argue we don’t always recognize them. As it translates into business, we often overlook the value individuals bring to the collaborative process of a project. Even if we tell ourselves we’re team players, and for most part exemplify it, it’s easy to slip into the trap of putting our own progress and recognition before team success.

All of this to say, it just wasn’t the case in what I experienced at the conference. I continued to watch this band take down question after question from investors. They had the upper hand.

Just like a break in the concert where each band member is highlighted and shows off their chops with a solo, each member took the leading role when it was their time during the Q&A, and then quietly slipped back into a supporting role as the next member rose to the occasion.

No Stillwater fate for these guys. I can’t wait to see what they do in the coming months. How about yourself – are you content being the bass player for your “band”?


Quintin Meek a talent consultant at Pillar Technology (part of Accenture Industry X.0). Also an active member of Detroit’s startup and tech community. Every day is something new and challenging, and I am learning more than ever before. I’m finding that I’ve become a lifelong student, and I’m excited to see how that continues to shape the road ahead.

Career Confessions of Gen Z: 3 Tips for Starting a New Job — The Intern Addition

STOP, COLLABORATE, AND LISTEN.

While these may be the words to an iconic and catchy song — you’re welcome if it’s now stuck in your head — they are also words of wisdom for a college student or new grad about to start an internship or entry-level job. So, let’s take a piece out of Vanilla Ice’s lyrical genius and apply it to some real life advice.

Stop:

If you’re anything like me, starting anything new can be extremely overwhelming. Be sure to stop, take a breath, and know that it will take time to adjust. Don’t try to rush yourself. Allow yourself some grace and your transition will be much smoother than if you put ten tons of unneeded pressure on yourself.

Collaborate:

You’re in your new job and you want to impress the big cheeses. What’s a great way to do this?

By demonstrating all you learned from those college group projects.

Show that you know how to be a productive team player, that you’re willing to share your ideas, and that you’ll make the effort to work well with your new co-workers. Your ability to collaborate successfully will stand out more than a 4.0 GPA, I promise.

Listen:

I have saved the best for last. This tip is the most important:

If you cannot listen actively, you will not advance nor impress. Just like your mom used to say, “There is a reason you have two ears and one mouth”. When you start your new job you will have to take in a great deal of information.

It’s important that you be an active listener. Take notes, ask for clarification, and don’t be too prideful to ask for help. Active listeners are some of the most valuable employees. While I am no expert — or famous rapper — by any means, I do work on these things each and every day that I come into work.

These tips will help you transition smoothly, impress the big cheeses, and demonstrate your value as the incredible employee you are!

*Though I don’t know if Vanilla Ice took these tips, he is worth $18 million, so he’s doing something right.


Elena Moeller is currently junior at the St. Edward’s University and Intern of all trades for Proactive Talent in Austin, Texas. Being born and raised in Minnesota I grew up playing hockey, riding snowmobiles, and fishing. One thing you should know about me is that I have never been labeled as shy — I live for getting to know new people and learning new things. This has enabled me to travel the world, become fluent in Spanish, and live in Milan, Italy where I learned a bit of Italian! I find I am happiest at work when I am able to spark my creativity and create something that is useful for our company but is also an entertaining read.

Career Confessions of Gen Z: Make Your Data Work For You

When you think about the top companies in the world, what are the first companies that come to mind?

I would bet that Google was one of the first companies that popped in your mind.

I am positive that HR professionals around the world are trying to figure out the formula to building such a great workplace environment for employees. After reading the book, Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Block, I learned that one of the keys to Google’s continued success is metrics.

Every new initiative or process that they introduce to employees is calculated and analyzed to determine how successful it was. They often use a small sample group to test and get feedback on the new idea.

The problem with most companies is that when they introduce something new, they don’t have a strategy as to how they will determine the program’s success. Companies are basing the success of initiatives purely on opinion.

In 2016, fewer than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and budget over the course of the year (Capterra). Here are a few tips to using metrics to properly gage the success of a project:

Set Clear Goals and Objectives

What are we trying to accomplish with this project that is measurable? What benefit will this project bring to involved stakeholders? What is our budget and time frame for this project?

These are all simple questions that should render the data that you need to measure the success of the initiative.

For some companies, there may be historical data from the past that you can use to compare a new project in terms of success. This can be helpful for looking at what was done in the past and how it can be improved upon.

However, not every company has been around long enough to use historical data. These companies can use data from other companies who have done something similar as a benchmark. No need to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.

Get Feedback From Those Involved

Getting the proper feedback from the people involved in a project is essential for improving on that project in the future. How else are you going to know what employees like and what they don’t like? Come up with a creative way to get honest, useful responses.

Make Sure it Aligns with the Company Strategy

I’ve seen companies come up with great ideas that are successful as soon as they are implemented. The only problem is that the project does not fall in line with the vision and values of the company. Whether that project has success or not, you must consider what message you are sending to your employees.

Not everybody likes dealing with numbers, I know, but numbers can be very beneficial if used properly. I’ll leave you with a quote by the musical genius Jay Z:

“Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t lie”


Jonathan Sutherlin is a human resource professional with experience in the engineering and automotive industry. Currently going for his Master’s in Organizational Change Leadership in a hybrid program at Western Michigan University. He is very passionate about reading, philanthropy, basketball, and fitness. You can connect with Jonathan on LinkedIn or through email at jonsutherlin@gmail.com. When Jonathan is not at work trying to impact lives, you can either catch him in the gym or nose deep in a good book!

Career Confessions of Gen Z: Busting Common Misconceptions

Tim Sackett released a tweet last week about a Gen Z coworker not knowing what Kinko’s was. That coworker was me — GUILTY!

I have to admit, maybe my lack of awareness of Kinko’s is due to my age, or maybe it’s due to the fact that I grew up in a very small, rural town and the closest office supplies/copy center was a Staples a few towns over. Regardless, the tweet got a lot of traction and the comments were super funny. Many of them however, took shots at Gen Z showcasing some common misconceptions of the generation .

Below are a few comments that stood out to me that I thought I would address so that employers of Gen Z’s have a better understanding of them and can refrain from making the same misconceptions.

“Ok so where’s the new cool place to get copies made? What are all the cool kids doing?”

Staples.

“Did you ask your GenZ to fax a copy, too? 🤣

Honestly, If you asked me to fax something today I would probably ask for a refresher on how to fax something or I would have to google it. Truth be told, I’ve only faxed something twice in my life and I was doing it for a teacher back in grade school my Freshman year — This was in 2010.

Like the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. The reality is that we haven’t had to grow up faxing things. To us, faxing is basically an archaic way of sending documents.

“I’m surprised your co-worker didn’t just Google “Kinkos””

Gen Z’s love to Google. It’s a fast and easy way to get information. So yes, we Google the heck out of everything to get immediate answers.

“And then you can rent a movie at Blockbuster”

Sometimes people forget that the oldest of the Gen Z’s are in their 20’s and do remember a time with Blockbuster, VHS, no flat-screen computers or TV’s, and the rareness of cell phones. 

Technology was advancing at an incredible speed when the oldest of us were growing up. A phone one day looked nothing like a phone a year later nor had the same capabilities. The same goes for music devices, computers, TVs, ect.

“Someone asked me how to make a copy today, same deal. I told her that was half of my work as an intern and asked her to take an educated guess.”

Honestly, I don’t make copies very often. In grade school, you don’t need to make copies for anything and most high school students work in food or retail service not in an office setting where copies are typically made. I can’t even remember a time in college when I really needed to make copies. However, making copies is not rocket science by any means and I hope all Gen Z’s are capable of this.

“Just redirect my existence to/dev/null … smh… I knew what a Kresge’s was when I was a kid, even thought they hadn’t existed for years. Where the F are their parents talking about life before those self-absorbed kids were brought into this world.”

This is probably the one comment that made my eyes roll. Self-absorbed is a term that I often hear regarding Gen Z and I here’s why it’s so wrong:

Sure, we might be a little self-absorbed but truthfully what human isn’t? In reality, Generation Z is the most diverse, globally aware, environmentally friendly, and social justice oriented than any of the previous generations. So while yes, we all at times act for our own interest, this generation is also advocating for the greater good of all and is cleaning up messes of previous generations.

With All That Said

The point of this wasn’t to defend myself or Generation Z against these comments but rather to use them as examples to give employers a deeper understanding of us and our upbringing. We all grew up in different times, developed different mindsets, and all come from different backgrounds and experiences.

The fact that the workforce is so multi-generational is awesome! There is much diversity between the generations and even within them. As everyone should know by now, a diverse workforce is the best workforce.

And while yes, Gen Z’s are young, naive, and technology dependent we shouldn’t be punished or made to feel stupid for the lack of certain knowledge that to others is so well-known and understood. Though I got frustrated at times, I didn’t make my grandma feel stupid when I was teaching her how to text. I was patient and encouraging. 

Employers should embrace and learn from the differences of each generation and be eager and patient to teach them new skills and spread knowledge, no matter how simple those things might seem.


Hallie Priest is a digital marketer for HRU Technical Resources, a leading engineering, and IT staffing firm based in Lansing, MI, using her skills to create content to serve all involved in the job seeking/hiring process. When she is not strategizing campaigns, going over analytics, or talking about her dog you can find her at the nearest coffee shop fueling her creativity. Connect with her on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/halliepriest

 

Career Confessions of Gen Z | The Power of Seeing – B-roll!

Hello everyone!

Thank you for joining me on this Gen Z journey. In the last episode, I talked about what verbal and spoken content can do for your recruiting methods, but I think it’s just one side of things to simply hear what a job is like. It takes it to a whole other level when you can visually capture what the processes of a job are like. So follow me into the world of b-roll!

(Don’t worry, I’ll explain it all in the video) 😉


Skyler Baty is a Videographer and Video Editor for SkillScout and lives in the Detroit Metro Area in Michigan. Skyler loves doing video work and helping organizations with their video projects. Connect with him, he’s a genius with this stuff!

 

 

 

 

How to Speak Gen Z – The HR Edition!

I wanted to share this video on “How to speak Gen Z” that my Recruiting Manager, Zach Jensen, from my office found. Zach is a Millennial and his original comment was something like “I don’t get it!” Zach gets most everything, he’s a complete rock star in recruiting! So, this made me laugh out loud!

Check out the video and then I’ll break it down:

The Gen Z phrases in the video and the meaning:

“Suh” – Hello (short for what’s up – or ‘whatsup’)

“Fam” – Friends – short for ‘family’

“FamJam” – Family – short for I have no idea

“The Fest was Lit” – It was a fun event

“Okurrrrrrr” – Okay – which I’m assuming is Ok – with some Cardi-B r rolling at the end

“I’m finna Dipset” – I’m getting ready to leave

“Them kicks are drippin” – Those are some neat shoes (FYI – I’ve actually heard this exact statement in the wild with a Gen Z)

“BET” – I would be glad to help – or another form of ‘sure’

“Dudes took an L” – My favorite team lost

“He little mad” – He seems upset

“He big mad” – He seems very upset

“No cap” – He’s not lying

“Wierd flex but okay” – That’s an interesting statement

“Facts” – I completely agree with that statement

“Yee Yee” – I agree

“YEET” – That’s exciting news – or – excuse me – or – congratulations on your baby boy – or – basically anything “YEET” is used for almost anything!

So, I have to be honest I’ve actually heard about half of these in the wild many times, primarily from my 22-year-old son’s college baseball team. When you get 36 boys together between 18 and 22, this is basically much of their language between each other, not really with those older or younger than themselves.

So, how can we use some of these in HR for our young Gen Z employees?

Don’t. Just don’t ever use these with your Gen Z employees! Unless you write a talk for your CEO for something like a new employee orientation and you sprinkle some of these phrases in and tell her that the ‘fam’ will love it! And while she might be big mad when she finds out you played this joke on her, it will be really funny! YEET!

Career Confessions from Gen Z: Tips to Being Successful

Everyone’s goal is to be successful.  There are little changes that you can make each day that can have a big impact on your success.  Three things that are not taught in a college lecture hall, but that will make you stand out among your coworkers and be successful are:

1. Being on Time

Being on time is so important no matter what it’s for. Punctuality is great for work, attending a sporting event, or meeting friends for dinner.  When you’re on time it shows that you care and that you’re putting forth effort.  When a you’re late, you’re holding up others and showing that you don’t respect other’s time.  Your being late simply makes everyone else late.

In my opinion, if you’re not 5 minutes early, you’re late.

2. Having a Positive Attitude

Having a positive attitude changes your whole outlook on life and your optimism affects those around you.  When you’re positive, it makes others around you more positive too.  Of course, the opposite is true as well. When you’re negative it makes others around you more negative and brings down the mood.

My dad is one of the most positive people that I know, and even though positivity bugs me at times, in the end I am thankful for it.  He tells his employees at work all of the time that Monday is his favorite day of the week.  As we all know, Monday’s are usually peoples least favorite day of the week, but going into a Monday with a positive attitude helps the day go better.

3. Staying out of office politics

Avoiding office politics is another important thing you need to try and do because once you’re involved in them, it’s hard to get out.  You should only worry about yourself, the work you’re doing, and the things that are in your control.

Yes, it can be frustrating when you feel that you’re putting in more effort and working harder than your co-worker in the cube next to you who is always playing on their phone; but you can’t worry about that and let it bother you.  You need to just keep doing your work and in the end you will be the one rewarded.

You Will Be Recognized

If a you can consistently do these three things everyday, YOU will be the one promoted instead of the coworker that shows up five minutes late everyday.  YOU will get the next important project instead of the person that is always negative and doesn’t want to be at work. Lastly, YOU will be the one that’s promoted over the worker that spends most of their time online shopping.

Even though these may seem like small things, in the long run they will help get you recognized and YOU will be rewarded for it.


Mallory Armbrustmacher graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2017 with a BA in Human Resource Management. She is an HR Generalist with the State of Michigan, Talent and Economic Development Department Human Resource Office, where she coordinates ADA Reasonable Accommodations and Ergonomic Assessments. In addition, she takes the lead on various special projects, conducts new employee orientations, processes payroll, and assists in labor relations, classifications, and selection. She is currently studying for the SHRM-CP exam, but also loves spending time with her family and friends, playing games, and cooking.

Career Confessions of Gen Z: HR without a Degree

It was exam season of my 2nd year at UC Berkeley, the “#1 Public University in the World”. Per the typical college student in the midst winter, I thought, “What am I going to do this summer?”. Little did I know, this single thought would change my life forever…

To paint this picture a little better, I am currently writing this blog from my desk at work in Detroit, MI. If I didn’t have that little thought, I would currently be finishing my final semester of college in a couple short months.

What did I do exactly?

I accepted a job as a sourcer at a company that I knew I loved despite being less than a year away from completing school.

How did I do it?

I internalized what I really wanted and compared the pros with the cons.

Cons of leaving school to work

  1. I won’t have a college degree if I drop out — at least not yet
  2. I have to leave a good amount of friends that I’ve built great relationships with
  3. All of my family is back in California

Pros of leaving school to work

  1. I was going to school to do what I am doing now
  2. I have spent 3 internship seasons building relationships and finding mentors (something I lacked in the past)
  3. I was DROWNING in debt – loans, friends, etc. — I could pay this off if I take this job!!

 

Honestly, it was one of the easier decisions I’ve had to make because it made perfect sense for ME. After 8 months in my current role, I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

What I did not know would be an added benefit for me was empathy – more specifically, I am more motivated than ever to seek to understand. I think this is a benefit in all aspects of life; seeking to understand something before you seek to be understood. Now that I’m much more open with my experiences and invite the same from others, seeking to understand has become second nature to me and I can’t imagine a close-minded life.

So, I guess the point of my story wasn’t to tell you all that I dropped out of school – it’s to let you know that people have got a lot of junk sometimes. It may take a little digging to come out with that nugget of gold I like to call understanding.


Hunter Casperson — self-proclaimed “Sourcing Nerd”, is currently an Associate Talent Strategist at Quicken Loans out of Detroit, MI. Originally from Southern California, he spent lots of time outdoors and in turn, loves nature. Hunter attended UC Berkeley where he studied Math & Psychology for three years before joining Quicken. His all-time favorite thing to do is beat-box, where he has consecutively ranked amongst the Top 10 in the United States over the past 3 years (under the name Huntybeats)!