Young But Not Powerless

Millennials, also called Generation Y or Generation Next, are people born after 1980. I came across this article that made me think about the young talent that I have worked with in the Cleveland Foundation’s Summer Internship Program. The article talked about how Millennials are often regarded as lazy, entitled and fickle (see Lindsay Lohan and the cast of Jersey Shore). This has not been my experience. Like the author of the article, the Millennials I have worked with are optimistic, self-confident, and are hungry for responsibility.

The article also outlined characteristics common among Millennials. They have a natural ability to multitask, they are idealistic, tech savvy and don’t have an “old fashioned” sense of privacy. They openly share private and intimate details about their lives on Facebook and Twitter. These same generational traits also make them great employees. For example, the article talked about the free marketing that results when a Millennial tweets about something he achieved at work to his 1,5000 friends. How to manage and exploit these traits for maximum effect is the management challenge. 

As I reflect on the 2010 class of the Cleveland Foundation’s summer interns, we learned a few things about how to manage Millennials. To get the best out of Millennials, managers need to give clear goals, provide the necessary resources and latitude to achieve these goals and most importantly – give regular them feedback. 

If given the right opportunity with right support from management, Millennials can do incredible things. 

The Cleveland Foundation’s Summer Internship Program is now accepting applications from area nonprofits or governmental agencies until November 29, 2010. College students, recent graduates, and graduate students work full-time for an 11-week session during the summer (June 6 through August 19, 2011). The Cleveland Foundation provides funding to cover the intern’s stipend.