Connections - Spring 2015 - (Page 18)

A CoNvERSATIoN ThEM YoUNG'UNS with > BY ShEllY AlCoRN, CAE IT ISN'T ANY secret associations are having to adapt to a radically changing world. However, our relentless focus on attempting to dissect the psychology of incoming generations as a way to market association services to them might be missing the point. We have to continue to push ourselves to understand the larger societal context younger people are navigating their way through. This also means listening to their often pointed critique of their current environment and seeing how we can impact those issues with novel and innovative solutions. If the industry or profession is the body we serve, solving problems for those individuals who have those jobs or careers is the heartbeat. Recently, I took the time to have a conversation with a couple of 19-somethings and I found their insights interesting. Quite frankly, some of the issues they are struggling with sound familiar to many we faced as Generation Xers entering our early 20s. Although generational "observations" tend to be extremely biased, when thinking back to conversations I had with my peers when I was younger, we tended to center our critique on things we weren't sure we could fix. In some ways, the generation coming up behind us is more frustrated than we were. It's one thing to be irritated by systemic problems you aren't sure you can fix; it's another level of frustration entirely to see the problems being perpetuated and potential solutions being ignored. "The hamster wheel of 'experience'." Although this is a common frustration for any young person entering the job market, the intensity of competition in a still sluggish economy is making this problem worse. Employers frequently choose to hire more experienced candidates who have proven track records. Globally youth unemployment is running at 13.1 percent and in 2015 the United States is at 11.9%. Some of those numbers can be explained by those young people who have the opportunity to put off entering the workforce to attend college, but we shouldn't assume things are rosy for the rest. Although unpaid internships continue to be touted as a solution, those don't help younger folks who need enough money to live independently from their parents. Associations have to figure out ways to break this cycle and help younger folks gain affordable, marketable, verified hard and soft skills and give these younger generations a leg up in the "experience" race. "It's almost impossible to reinvent ourselves." I think those of us who are older have already recognized 18 Spring 15 the importance of this new social dynamic but where we toy with the concept, this incoming generation is living with it. With all of the moving I did when I was younger, I had the ability to regularly reinvent myself. It used to be that you had the ability to "disappear," and re-emerge. Your past mistakes receded into memory and unless someone had a Polaroid, nobody had any documentation of it. Now, with every move documented your mistakes are public, and recorded. Trying to reinvent yourself in a world where nobody lets you forget who "you are," is incredibly difficult. It's bad enough in terms of personal development, but what about public professional records that are just as indelible? How do we help people adjust to this new reality and give them tools to help them grow and mature without pigeonholing them forever for mistakes they might make? "It's all about who you know." Again, this is not necessarily a new dynamic but this cut-throat employment market is making those professional contacts more important than ever. Hiring is more and more a function of "word of mouth," than it used to be. I realize a lot of association professionals tend to believe "networking" is passé, but to my mind, it's more important than ever. We tend to assume younger people automatically know how to network professionally due to their skill at personally networking but this is a false assumption. Breaking out of a personal network in order to meet the people who can help you advance your career

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Connections - Spring 2015

Message from the Chair
GSAE News & Events
New Members
Keeping Up with the Millennials
Coaching Investments in the Workforce
A Conversation with Them Young’uns
The Sandwich Generation: Juggling Family Responsibilities
The Internship Experience
GSAE Events
Destination: Meet at the Coast
Choices: Art to the Science or the Science to the Art
Index of Advertisers

Connections - Spring 2015