Grooming Gen Y grads

Young employees can bloom with the right career guidance

Everybody seems to have an opinion about fresh graduates these days.

We all seem to be saying the same thing: “They are young, lazy, selfish, inpatient, sometimes arrogant, but yet very smart.”

Today’s fresh university graduates are classified as Gen Y or the millennial generation.

Are all our comments about them accurate? Or did some of us just experience bad luck when we worked with terrible colleagues who happened to be young?

According to US consulting firm Millennial Branding, 60% of millennials leave their company in less than three years.

When I asked a Malaysian corporate friend about this statistic, she said, “Maybe on the world stage la, but in my experience, 18 months to maybe two years is the best I can get from my young employees.”

She also joked, “If you want a Malaysian statistic, always divide the global statistic by two.”

This friend also commented that today’s young employees are extremely result-orientated, making them more impatient. “They would come up to me and say I achieved that result, what do I get in return?”

I cannot help thinking this type of behaviour stems from how some parents raise their children. If you get 10As, Mummy or Daddy will buy you a gift or a car.

If you fast for so many days, you get rewarded with money or a gift.

My parents always say that if you get good grades, you are the one who feels good, not them.

So how do we address this challenge? No fancy AES traffic system can fix this overnight.

Recently, I worked with employment career specialist Graduan. Over the last few years, Graduan has been hosting a career fair, Graduan Aspire, to connect potential employers and employees to build that ideal, successful career-work relationship.

What really impressed me about Graduan is their talent and graduate activities that go on during the two-day career fair. Fresh graduates not only have the opportunity to meet potential employers face-to-face, they also get a chance to meet up with CEOs to find out what is needed to succeed in the workplace.

These CEOs are not the type to sugarcoat their words. They say it like it is, and advise the young talents to work harder and smarter around workplace problems to achieve success.

During Graduan Aspire 2014, participants were very fortunate once again to get a panel of accomplished, charismatic and joke-cracking CEOs to talk to them.

This year’s line-up was Celcom Axiata Berhad CEO Datuk Seri Shazalli Ramly, Syarikat Prasarana Nasional Berhad group managing director Datuk Seri Shahril Mokhtar, AirAsia CEO Aireen Omar, Groupon Malaysia CEO / Groupon Asia Pacific Head Joel Neoh, Metrowealth International Group CEO David Teo, and Teach for Malaysia co-founder and managing director Dzameer Dzulkifli.

All the CEOs stressed that it is very important to try and find out what you want to achieve in your career. This is something that all of us experience when we start our careers. Sometimes, we studied A, but we really want to do B; we love B, but A pays better.

During the talk, Shazalli brought up a very valid point.

He said, “More CEOs need to make the time to go out to the job market and talk to young graduates.”

When we are young and lost, as some fresh graduates are, we need some inspiration and innovation to lead us to the right path, or career path in this case.

Young men and women are not keen to listen to quotes read from MBA or management books anymore. They want human inspiration and as you can see from my examples, they want it now.

Well done to Graduan for setting up a system that can help give our young generation career guidance. Getting CEOs to attend an event is not easy. One talented young man summed up very nicely what he was looking for at Graduan Aspire.

He said, “Today, I learn about inspiration. That will hopefully lead to innovation.”