Today's post is submitted by two-time Kronos intern Megan Grenier. Last summer she wrote about communication in a multi-generational workplace. Here she makes the case that a great internship consists of work that excites and people who inspire.

Ever since I was little people always asked me “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I constantly struggled to answer that question. However, there are two things I always knew I wanted to be: successful and happy. I knew that success would be finding a good job in the career of my choosing. The new question I began to ask myself became, what in a job will make me happy?

As I've started to explore the professional world through various internship opportunities, I have learned so much: from hitting reply all on an email to learning how to adapt to different circumstances. Although my time in the workforce has been brief, I think I have discovered what makes a job fulfilling: striking the balance between work that excites you and people who inspire you.

Over my two summers at Kronos I have been given “real work.” My manager and coworkers did not send me to go on coffee runs or make me stand at the copier for hours. The work I had not only challenged me but was also impactful to the organization. The work I did was fulfilling, it pushed me to work harder, smarter, and better.

My projects were influential in creating a meaningful work experience, but ultimately, that's not what inspired me to drive an hour each way to work. What motivated me every morning was the people. My coworkers were some of the most intelligent, creative, and innovative thinkers I have ever met. They made me think outside of the box and motivated me to deliver my best work. Not only were they great colleagues, but they were good people. They cared if I had a bad day, encouraged - or should I say made me - go home when I was sick, and went out of their way to make sure I had the best experience during my internship. They became more than coworkers, they became friends; they were the reason I was so eager to come into work every morning, because they challenged me to be the best I could be - in every sense.

Not only did my team push me to success, but others in the organization went out of their way to create opportunities for me and other interns. One of the senior marketing directors decided to mentor us marketing interns; she imparted wonderful advice and facilitated incredible networking opportunities for us. I was even given the chance to meet with our company's CEO, CMO, and President not once, but twice. I had meetings with the CFO and Vice President of Talent Acquisition. All of these individuals could have easily denied the invitation to meet with interns, but they took time out of their busy schedules to impart their wisdom upon us. Their words, humility and generosity inspired me every day to work my hardest, so one day (hopefully) I can be as successful as them.

In the words of Aron Ain, our CEO, “great businesses are run by great people.” I have seen firsthand the truth behind these words. Meaningful work and exceptional people are what make a job worthwhile; if you can find that balance, you won't work a day in your life.

The following post was contributed by Amanda Boyle, one of our terrific summer interns.  Amanda (2nd from left in the front row) has done a lot of great work for us this summer, and we'll miss her!

Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millennial, and now Gen Z are all defining generations that make up today's workforce. We're so quick to categorize an individual, placing them into a specific generational bucket, that it's easier to ignore their unique characteristics. We instead slap a label on them and call it a day.

Is the obsession over generations, especially when it comes to managing a workforce, really warranted? Or is there a better approach to considering what individuals want and need to feel successful at work? I may be at the early stage of my career, but the entire idea seems flawed to me, especially when you consider that the start and end dates for each generation are so fuzzy.

The end date of the Millennial Generation is yet to officially be defined, but it's commonly accepted that Generation Z starts somewhere around 1996-1999. Most of Generation Z, which society labels as my own, has never known a pre-9/11 world.  Gen Z's have grown up with cell phones glued to their hands and internet access anywhere they venture. On the flip side there are still some members of this generation, myself included, that don't identify with many of these “defining” characteristics.

Growing up, I was constantly told that I was a Millennial.  Born at the tail end of 1997, I was considered a “90s kid.” (I just made it!) I was alive for the turn of the century and was almost four when 9/11 happened. Young enough to not remember specific details, yet old enough to understand the event's enormity from my earliest memories. Quite frankly, it wasn't until my first communications class in college that I was even introduced to Generation Z.

My professor asked the class what generation we classified ourselves as. Half the class said Millennial and the other said Gen Z. Being told my whole life I was a Millennial and then finding out about Gen Z was quite confusing. Where do I belong? What should I categorize myself as? Should I let someone else categorize me? And ultimately, does defining my generation - or any generation - really matter? For those born between 1996 and 1999, this confusion is common.

One great thing about being an intern at Kronos is that there are fifty other college students in the program with you, all around the same age. So, I asked some of my colleagues about it in order to get their opinions on the matter. Their answers to my simple question – what generation do you categorize yourself as? – were exactly as I predicted. All of us were born between 1996-1998. Some said they were Millennials and others Gen Z, just like my college class. After discussing the topic for some time, we all came to the same conclusion: we are too young to be Millennial's but too old to be Gen Z's.  So where exactly does that leave us?

Ultimately those of us born between 1996 and 1999 feel as though we are stuck between two generations. We strongly identify with characteristic that comprise both Millennials and Gen Z's. We are a lot like Millennials when it comes to technology: we're older than Google!  We did not grow up with a cell phone and various other technological advancements as later Gen Z's had glued to their hands.

Instead, those born between 1996 and 1999 grew up like the rest of the 90s kids, watching early Saturday morning cartoons and spending the entire day outside in the summer playing. VHS was still a thing and Blockbuster was the place to be on Friday nights. The Motorola Razor was the most popular cell phone, and even then few classmates had one until middle school. iPads and tablets weren't a thought in people's minds and barely anyone had their own laptop until late high school.  We may be tech savvy individuals, but we didn't grow up with the same connection to tech as later Gen Z kids.

On the other hand, like most Gen Z's, we came of age after the turn of the millennium. We are extremely individualistic and have our minds set on making a difference to change the world. We did not and (luckily) will not enter the workforce during a recession. As we enter the workforce, the job market will be at its peak. Unlike most Millennials, we'll have a wide variety of job opportunities to choose from. We contain strong characteristics from both generations yet we still feel like we're not a part of either.

We are the gap between two generations. Sometimes it feels as though we've fallen through the cracks. We are not solely Millennials or solely Gen Z's, we're a hybrid of both. Feeling the same way the “early” millennials did. They experienced the same sort of “identity crisis” as we are going through now. Too young to be Gen X'ers, but their childhood and late adolescence was extremely different from your typical Millennial. Growing up in the 1980s was very different than growing in the 1990s. They did not enter the job market during one of the worst times in US history. They had to navigate the dot com bubble burst, but most were well established in their careers at the time of the recession in 2008.  Seeing as this feeling of falling through the cracks has happened before it will most likely happen again.

This poses the question: are generation ranges too wide? For a society that preaches individuality and uniqueness, why are we grouping people over a fifteen-year age range together? Why not five years? Why do we need defining generations at all? 1996-1999 babies are on the cusp of leaving behind adolescence and entering the workforce–the real world, if you will. We're unlike the Millennials before us. And different from the Gen Z's that will come after us.

I think a better way to approach the conversation about generations in the workplace is to instead look at the various life stages of your employee. I may fall into the gap between Gen Z and Millennial, but I have a feeling that my aspirations, goals, wants, and needs as a college student about to embark in my career aren't much different than someone who entered the workforce in the _90s, or _80s, or _70s, or _60s!

Until organizations change how they think about their employees, shifting from a generational mindset to a life stage mindset, I'll wear my own hybrid label proudly as the gap between two generations.  Who knows what we'll do or the impact we will have on the workforce? I can't wait to find out.

 

Today's guest blog is courtesy of one of our summer interns, Marissa Beaudoin.

1012827_10151807670131115_1501959386_nI once read that college graduates should approach finding a career the same way you approach finding a partner- the only way to find the right job is to go out on a lot of “dates” to try them out and see what they're like.

For a lot of people, this means they will try out a bunch of different jobs, staying at each one for an average of less than four years. This concept of “job hopping” is a nightmare for employers, managers, and HR professionals because it means more hiring, more training, and more expenses. So naturally, the widespread goal is to retain employees so they don't consistently need to be replaced, and this can be achieved by finding the right people for the job.

But how are people supposed to know what they want to do, especially when they're straight out of college? As a 21-year-old college student entering my senior year at a small liberal arts school outside of Boston, I have a general sense of what career I would like to pursue. I have a marketing major and ideally would like to find a career in this field, but I'm not sure if this is what I am going to do for the next 40 years of my life. Did you know what you wanted to do with your life at 21? If so, is it the same thing you've done all throughout your professional career? Probably not.

So then, how can employers avoid this whole “job-hopping” thing if most people have no idea what they want to do after college? Should we cross our fingers and hope we've picked the right job and career? Take a miserable job and stay there until retirement? Simply just not get a job? No, no, and definitely no. The answer is internships.

By now, I'm sure we've all heard or read about the importance of internships and how they're essential for getting hired after graduation. However, as an intern myself at Kronos, Inc., I've been able to better understand the things I'm good at, the things I'm not, and what I'm looking for in a job. So even if I can't exactly say what it is I want to do with my life, my internship has definitely helped guide me in the right direction.

I've also learned that having an internship gives you the opportunity to experience a real-world working environment. You can't teach students in a classroom how to contribute in meetings or communicate with your co-workers- these are the kinds of daily activities that seem so normal to people who have jobs, but for students who have never experienced them, they can be pretty overwhelming.

So many students can benefit from having an internship, and employers can greatly reap the benefits as well. By giving college students the opportunity to get real-world experience and help them narrow down what they want to pursue as a career, they can hire candidates well-suited for their jobs and avoid hiring new employees every few years. Kronos has certainly understood this concept, growing their internship from 20 interns a few years ago, to 54 this summer. And while I still am not 100% sure of what I'd like to do after May 25th 2014, I know I have a much better idea after my internship here this summer.

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