President’s Blog: Mad For Millennials
By Dan Baldwin, President/CEO Community Foundation for Monterey County (CFMC)
You’ve seen the YouTube videos. Young man or woman – generally in their mid-20’s – is in a job interview being asked standard questions. The applicant, holding their smartphone, interrupts to ask whether they’ll get time off to surf. Interviewer looks puzzled, then moves on. Applicant interrupts again to ask if they can start with six-weeks vacation because they’re thinking about a backpacking trip in Bali. Before the interviewer can answer, applicant notices they have a text, so they immediately respond….and giggle, asking the interviewer about their favorite emoji.
Millennials in the workplace, or so we’re led to believe.
A Stereotype Dispelled
As a Baby Boomer, I had to endure stereotyping from my parents’ generation, so it is ironic that we’re doing the same with Millennials. They’re coddled. Entitled. Want instant gratification. Every Friday we’re supposed to present them with a participation trophy. The double irony is if any of that is true, it’s because my generation raised them to be that way.
The CFMC currently has four employees whose ages squarely classify them as Millennials: Josh, Mackenzie, Minnie and Erika.
They work in four different departments and so have very different jobs. Here’s what all four bring (along with their college degrees): native understanding and use of technology; commitment to our mission; a willingness to speak up and suggest areas of improvement; tats (don’t know how that slipped in there); optimism and energy; and, yes, a desire to move up in the organization, which I think of as a desire for stronger ownership and willingness to accept more responsibility.
Have they made mistakes? Of course. But their mistakes come from assertiveness. Correcting those is much easier than coaxing employees to jump in.
Valued Skill Sets
Josh came to us as an intern from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, then was hired as a Philanthropic Services Associate. Now he is Program and Scholarships Officer, overseeing an increase in scholarships from $375,000 in 2016 to a projected $1.26 million in 2018. When he started at the CFMC it seemed he could fix any multi-media glitch in our conference room from his smartphone. I haven’t completely abandoned my suspicion that he’s part cyborg.
Mackenzie was hired as Administrative Coordinator. In her interview, she said she prides herself on learning everything about her job. When Josh moved into his current position, it created an opening for a Philanthropic Services Associate. Mackenzie now interacts daily with donor advisors, processes grant recommendations and helps with special events. She has not mentioned backpacking in Bali, but if she does, I’m confident it will be because she’s accumulated the time off.
Minnie replaced Mackenzie as Administrative Coordinator. Along with an abundance of smarts, she brings remarkable joy into our workplace. Even the occasional cranky person who calls (no reader of this blog is in that group) wants to know who transferred their call because she is someone we need to hang onto. When I routinely get impatient with Outlook, Excel or Zoom, Minnie, without condescension (at least outwardly), effortlessly shows me the way. If you call someday in the near future, and Minnie isn’t answering the phone, my hope is that it is because she is applying her skills elsewhere in the CFMC.
Erika, the youngest, is our newly hired Program Officer. “Newly” doesn’t feel right, however, as she already performs like a veteran, not just in executing tasks but in creating improvements. Bi-lingual and bi-cultural, she assists us with making sure we’re interacting with and reaching the Latinx community in ways that make a difference.
Barely making the Millennial cut (in age) is Karina. She deserves mention because of the powerful sense of ownership she has brought to her work in Grants and Programs, as well as her coordination of the Salinas office.
When Karina interviewed she not only looked at me and said, “I’m your candidate,” but she talked about how important it was to work in an organization that valued her as a bi-lingual Latina. She has guided us through many conversations on diversity in the workplace.” – Dan Baldwin
So watch and enjoy YouTube videos poking fun at Millennials. There may be a grain of truth in them. But at the CFMC the overwhelming reality is that we’re so glad they’re part of our team.