Millennial Think Tank: How to Find and Keep a Job

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This week we switched gears a bit and did a solutions based hangout, at the recommendation of our Think Tanker, Kayvon Asemani. After watching our hangout on the enormous debt burden brought on by student loans, he suggested we help Millennials figure out how to find work. So, we did something a little different and brought in non-Millennial Mark Babbit of YouTern. I’ve read the Mark’s SavvyIntern blog for years, and have always admired the great advice they provide job seekers. I must admit, I was a little blown away by Mark’s incredibly direct, honest advice… much of which I hadn’t thought of or heard before.

This week our panel consisted of:

Here’s the recap, and you can listen to or watch the entire episode here:

The Facts for Millennial Job Seekers

  1.  This generation graduates from college with an average of $30K in student loan debt; higher than any generation before it.
  2. 37% of 18 – 30 year olds are out of work
  3. We are in the toughest job market in generations
  4. Millennials must compete with laid off Boomers & Gen Xers, who are more experienced than they are.

The Background on YouTern and Why We Invited Them

We are quite clear that our Think Tank is an honest attempt to get to the root of what drives the Millennial generation, and to hear from them in their own words. Having Mark Babbit on was a different tack for us. But I wanted Mark on because they not only is his blog packed with great advice, YouTern has a very honest approach to what you must do to land and keep a job in this market.  The company was born in 2o10 after much thought, and was inspired by the Great Recession. Mark saw clearly that ‘we,’ as people across the board, had moved away from everything that had made us successful prior to the boom years preceding the Great Recession. During the good times, looking for a job was as simple as clicking on an Apply Here button on

Networking, mentors, and self learning had fallen by the wayside. Unemployment was 2.8%, until 2008. And then the wheels fell off the bus.

YouTern focuses on getting back to the basics: Networks Matter. Mentors matter. What we learn on our own time matters. Our entrepreneurial spirit makes a huge difference to our success. Carrying that old school mentality further, YouTern focuses on accountability. They give their clients the tools to be accountable for their own career. One of the key lessons that I think many generations need to understand is that social media is not the panacea for everything; it is, as Mark says, ‘one tool in the tool belt.’ It’s a way to connect, but it doesn’t build the relationship… it’s a digital handshake, but you still must build the real life relationship outside of it.

Advice for Students Just Entering College

Students entering college need to have a plan for the next 4 years of their life. Here are the simple bullet points that Mark advises:

  • One internship for each year that you’re in college. Yep, that’s at least 4.
  • Build your stable of mentors.
  • Begin Networking early.
  • Get your butt involved: stick your neck out – leadership, theatre, sports… whatever it is.

You can’t just be a student anymore, you have to think of yourself as a Future Professional.

Students have to be adults right away. Again we return to old school thoughts: generations ago, when you left home after high school you were considered an adult. Then, for a period, college became the extension of our youth… not anymore.

The Inherited Lie. The False Promise.

Back in our hangout about education debt, Jillian Paige poignantly described the road her generation was led down in regards to education as The False Promise. Even if you did everything right –  worked hard, got good grades… you were guaranteed NOTHING. Your entire life you’d been told that if you went to college, did the right thing..there’d be a pathway to security. The rug was pulled out from under this generation; Mark had his own name for that: The Inherited Lie.

Mark pulled no punches and had this to say:

My generation lied. We told our kids that if they did the right things, got good grades, go to college, and they’ll be a job waiting for you when you get out.

Now, Millennials are faced with a very different reality, and they need to face that, take responsibility, and plan for their future while in college. Getting internships – at least 1 for every year you’re in school –  is the key to future success.

 What Internships Mean in Reality

Internships can be 13 weeks long, many of which are virtual. Yet an internship is not a golden ticket, it needs to be joined with networking and mentoring.  Learning this, I asked “what gives? These students are still expected to attend college full time, and some of them also have to work for money. Where do they find the time to add an internship?”  Mark’s answer? They have a lot less fun than earlier generations. College isn’t for fun anymore, it’s time to get to work.

Advice for Graduating Students

There is a certain charisma that comes with starting your own project; even if you don’t intend to work for yourself long term, starting your own business really pushes you past your competition in your job search. Employers love someone who sticks their neck out. More advice from Mark:

  1. Stop sending cold call resumes; it doesn’t work.
  2. Don’t even bother with
  3. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date.
  4. Network, network, network.
  5. Customize your resume/LinkedIn profile & cover letter for the company you’re targeting.

5 Things You Shouldn’t Do in An Interview

Both Tiffany and Mark have seen these same mistakes repeated:

  1. Don’t ask about salary
  2. Don’t ask about the company – you should already know.
  3. Don’t ask your interviewer what they do
  4. DO NOT check your cell phone; don’t even bring it into the interview
  5. Iron your shirt. And your pants.

Preparing for An Interview

Make sure you dress for the type of job you’re applying for. Do a bit of background research so that you know what people wear to work. Learn about the company culture before you apply; if you’re not a fit for the culture, you probably won’t be successful. Check out the company executive social profiles and you will learn a lot about the attitude and personality of the business. Know enough about the company so that you’re not at the interview to learn about it; you’re there for them to learn about you.

Be Like Daniel Hebert

Daniel couldn’t be with us on the hangout, but he sent in the strategy he used to find a job. It’s such good advice I have to share it. Daniel ignored the job boards and instead reached out to every influencer in the industry he was targeting. He researched all of the Venture Capital funding in that industry so he knew which companies had money to hire. Next, he snail mailed a hand written note and a business card to a number of important people in the industry and simply asked to have a cup of coffee with them. His success rate was over 90% and he ended up getting a job.

How to KEEP the Job

The perfect job may not be out there, but there is a lot you can do to ensure that you make your job experience as positive as it can be. Mark’s excellent advice was to focus on the parts that make it better, whether it’s a mentor, or what you can learn, the mission of the company, or a boss you may adore. Perhaps the biggest lesson you may learn is how not to run a business,; that in itself is invaluable.

Tiffany advised Millennials to learn about the structure of a company; understand how the raise and promotion process works, and don’t expect things to change for you. Be mindful of how other people act or dress in the workplace.  Some of the best advise she had was “don’t be ashamed of being a Millennial.” Don’t hold back good ideas because you’re concerned about the stereotypes of Millennials being applied to you.

It’s still a dreadfully tough job market, and there is a lot of competition. So I’ll leave you with this last bit of advice from Mark:

You have to be a problem solver; as someone who sees a problem and fixes it. You need to own whatever it is you are. Find something you’re really good at. Understand the one thing that you really love to do and excel at, and find a job that allows you to do it. What is it that makes you unique? It could be relationship building, selling, writing, whatever your first class skill is, find the job that allows you to use it.

Join us next Thursday for our hangout focusing on Millennial Expectations of Good Customer Service.

Photo credit: thedailyenglishshow via photopin cc.

14 thoughts on “Millennial Think Tank: How to Find and Keep a Job

  1. AmyMccTobin says:

    MarkSBabbitt That was a good one Mark. I want to have you back again!

  2. AmyMccTobin says:

    MarkSBabbitt I’m thinking on the Boomer Tank? ?? bowden2bowden ???

  3. bowden2bowden says:

    Let’s do it “AmyMccTobin: MarkSBabbitt I’m thinking on the Boomer Tank? ?? bowden2bowden ???” #BringTheExperiance

  4. AmyMccTobin says:

    bowden2bowden MarkSBabbitt I will have the stuff to you next week Randy.

  5. AmyMccTobin says:

    bowden2bowden MarkSBabbitt But I’m thinking #feartheyears

  6. hessiejones says:

    AmyMccTobin bowden2bowden MarkSBabbitt Listen, GenX Tank is in the works too AmyVernon 🙂

  7. AmyVernon says:

    hessiejones AmyMccTobin bowden2bowden MarkSBabbitt Indeed! The forgotten gen. 🙂

  8. hessiejones says:

    AmyVernon AmyMccTobin bowden2bowden MarkSBabbitt No for long Amy:)

  9. MarkSBabbitt says:

    bowden2bowden AmyMccTobin hessiejones Millennial, GenX AND Boomer talk, without the stereotypes? I’m all in!

  10. bowden2bowden says:

    AmyMccTobin MarkSBabbitt no fear here 😉

  11. AmyMccTobin says:

    bowden2bowden MarkSBabbitt I meant other should #feartheyears of experience 🙂

  12. AmyMccTobin says:

    MarkSBabbitt bowden2bowden hessiejones I think Mark said he’d be a regular on the panel? 🙂

  13. Bill Cammack says:

    Great topic, Amy! 😀

    It’s important for people to consider what they THINK their game plan is going to be once they graduate from school.. Except most people aren’t going to tell them to try to think that through beforehand.

    I graduated in Information Systems with the plan to make a bunch of money. I did that, but in the process, I realized that I was bored, so I quit.

    I eventually picked up video editing as a hobby and made a career out of what I actually LIKED to do.

    I never would have gone to school for filmmaking because nobody told me it was going to be important that I enjoyed what I did to make money! 😀

    • Susan Silver says:

      What a great story Bill. I ended up being unemployed for a time, but it lead me to the path of freelance writing. What I ended up doing with my limitations became a career which I am very passionate about. I can no longer imagine what I would have done with the degree I earned.

      I think that people need exposure to all types of stories of how people find their career path. We get told the same story that you go to school, graduate, and an employer will hire you. It just isn’t true anymore. There are more options out there for people. You don’t have to take the same route as others, but find the one which works for you

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