(Warning: This might be more about me than you really want to know.)
Today I am confessing that in many ways I am still old school. It is not a pretty thing. This is particularly true when I reflect on my role as an employer. Running a marketing firm, I take part in hiring lots of people – often young people. I understand that I’m not the only person to notice a trend where many of the young people coming out of school feel entitled and have what I consider to be unrealistic expectations about many aspects of their future professional life. (Yes, I sound like an old man right now.)
My experience has been that many of these young people, once hired, maintain a distance from their job, and set up fairly rigid boundaries between work life and personal life. (I know that some people, like my wife, consider this to be a healthy practice.) The idea of throwing yourself into the work, particularly when you are early in your career, and proving yourself through extraordinary effort, seems to have passed its prime. Does this ring true based on what you are seeing? It has taken a lot of effort to recruit the sharp, young people we’ve got working at our firm today. And it wasn’t without a few missteps along the way.
My firm also hires interns, with most of them coming from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or Duke University. To be honest, I typically don’t have a lot of direct contact with the interns because I haven’t been able to find a groove working with them. Part of that is because I travel a lot so I am not always in the office to give them assignments and coach them; part of it is because I haven’t always found the right intern to match my temperament and expectations (challenging temperament and high expectations). Often their idea of quality work, at this point in their life, does not conform with my vision of quality work.
The good news is that I am never too old to learn, and never too old to have the stereotypes that I hold be challenged by new experiences. For the last year I have worked with Stephanie Cohen, an intern from the University of North Carolina. My experience with Stephanie has been perspective-changing. As a senior over-burdened with class work and social obligations, she has been committed, responsible, productive and self-motivated. When I was traveling on business we communicated with ease via email. When Stephanie needed to make a change to her work schedule, she would notify me in advance and we would make the appropriate changes. It has been a beautiful relationship!
One of the things I like best about Stephanie is that she was excited about doing the work. She really seemed to thrive on the opportunity and the learning that came with the opportunity. While working at Jennings, Stephanie wrote draft blog posts for my healthcare marketing blog, drafted press releases, and worked on a special research project. One day she was tweeting about her most recent blog post when a reporter from USA Today (Liz Szabo) retweeted her information. (Liz, you made Stephanie’s day!) Stephanie was so excited, and rightfully so! Her post ended up generating a lot of traffic for the blog. That excitement, passion and dedication is what I found so engaging in Stephanie.
Well, Stephanie’s internship has come to an end and she leaves to begin her career in DC in just a few weeks. In honor of Stephanie, this week I’ll be running several of her final posts in this blog. I hope you find them to be of value. Meanwhile, I’ll be starting my quest to find that next young, motivated individual to fill Stephanie’s shoes. Enjoy the posts.
Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer