In one of my recent blogs, I discussed the first book I wrote, “Hire Education,” and an article I read in USA Today by Lindsey Read. After thinking about it some more, I wanted to offer one more point.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Eberly College of Business recently asked me to speak at a career day. For the students, this day was in no way mandatory. In fact, it occurred on a day in which classes were cancelled. To see the turnout, however, one would have thought otherwise. Needless to say: Impressive.
I was invited to speak about Millennials, leadership, and preparing one’s self for the upcoming work world. We started bright and early in the morning. The university had a fairly intense day planned for the students.
To be perfectly honest, I was not sure what to expect, since most of my keynotes are for senior business leaders around the world. While I’ve worked with college students many times throughout my career, I have not been to a career day in quite some time.
I must say I was blown away. There were hundreds of students present; giving up what would have otherwise been a free day. The auditorium was packed. I am guessing there were 500 or so students.
I also was blown away by the professionalism exhibited by these 500 individuals. Since I was on the stage, I had an opportunity to view the entire room. I honestly cannot remember seeing anyone who wasn’t dressed for success. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was dressed as a business professional.
Since I am personally a big note taker, I also noticed everyone carrying some sort of portfolio or notebook. While my guess is they were housing some resumes, it seems they were also being used to capture notes. I could see students jotting things down as I was speaking.
I was also extraordinarily impressed with the students who approached me after the talk. Their questions were insightful and thought provoking. Additionally, many students followed up with me and connected to develop their network.
I decided to write about this for several reasons. One was my recent blog and pointing out how some things do not change. Professionalism is professionalism. My second reason is that too often we focus on the negative. Sure, there are a lot of unprofessional Millennials out there. That’s not new. There were unprofessional Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, too.
(In fact, at some point in my life, I may have been one of those! I shutter to think about some things I did when I was 22 years old. We will leave that for a future blog! But, I digress.)
Third, I also wanted to focus on the positive. There are many, many talented folks who also understand what it takes to be a pro. In articles about Millennials you RARELY hear about the pros. Why is that? Articles will highlight a single individual who plays into our generational prejudice and ignore 500 top-notch folks. Frustrating.
My fourth and final reason to point all of this out is to show the power of coaching. While the students at IUP presented themselves correctly, they also had great coaches. Someone took the time to prepare them to be the professionals they had become. Someone understood that, across generations and centuries, young folks do not just wake up and have decades of experience.
It is up to the coaches to help shape, mold, and lead their folks. Or, should I say, it is up to leaders to shape, mold, and coach their folks.
Kudos to the students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Eberly College of Business. You are impressive. Also, kudos to your leaders and coaches. They are committed to not only your success but also to being pros themselves.