911: Don’t Fear, IT is Here

911sign

EMERGENCY!

Sir, what seems to be the issue? Hi, thank God you are there, but I can’t seem to turn on my computer. I pressed the, you know, power button and it still won’t boot up for some reason. That’s interesting, try pressing it a little harder and see if that works.

OKAY…It worked!

Thank you so much, you are a life saver.

 

IT to the Rescue

Above I illustrate an extreme example of how a company’s IT department can come to the rescue. Big problems or small, having someone knowledgeable in technology provides huge value to employers. Some might say competitive advantage, and I would have to agree.

You should too

Yes you.

Why?

Simple. Paul Purcell. Who? Yeah, it’s time for a story.

So, here I am at my Intern Welcome Event. Up next on the agenda is Paul Purcell, Chairman of the Board at Baird – a financial services firm. Like you are probably thinking, I was thinking that he would address us with heavy financial material.

He did, but he also shared something that sparked my interest in IT. Or more formally Information Technology.

Mr. Purcell spoke of a parallel between IT and company growth. He sees so much of a parallel that the company plans to increase their dollars on it.

This comment was much to the delight of the few IT interns we had in the building.

Important Element Moving Forward

Technology is becoming more and more important to the workplace. It’s ever evolving and its increase in scope and scale is inevitable.

In an article on the site CIO.com – a website that delivers the latest news, analysis, video, blogs, tips and research for techies and IT professionals –  the author states that “Over the past year, there has been a major increase in the number of open job postings for support specialists: Approximately 39,000 job postings in Q1 2015 vs approximately 48,000 job postings in Q1 2016, according to CompTIA’s IT Jobs Snapshot for Q1 2016. While not every job posting translates to a hire, the data does suggest increasing job market demand for this role.”

That is good news for those of you out there looking to fill these unfilled help desk jobs. Some of you might be thinking ‘help desk jobs’, I am way more qualified that. But think again, as today these jobs offer very complex work and they are mostly important in high demand.

I don’t know how many out there are economically adept, but one of the major, yet simple ideas of economics is this beauty of Supply and Demand. You are absolutely right, when there is high demand, that means there is a need for a high supply.

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Some of you out there reading this just might be the supply necessary.

Personal Anecdote

Thought I’d throw in yet another personal story. Don’t worry, this one is much more practical.

So, as you might have already put two and two together, I am currently interning a company called Baird in their Private Wealth Management Department. If I can recall correctly on day one, possibly was day two, I had already had multiple talks with our IT department.

By talks I mean I needed help of some sort.

I’ll tell you, the convenience of dialing “XXXX” on the Hotline is not only a time saver but also saves me from a headache. So I guess you can say it saves me two-fold.

Everyday, or every other day I find myself calling IT.

Boss…CRM is not functioning properly on my computer, do you know how to fix this. No, but why don’t you give IT a call. I call them and they fix the problem in a short fashion.

It’s amazing!

I just remember the days when I did not know how to do something with my technology and it would take me two to three hours just to find the right information to figure out. Now with the assistance of an IT professional at the dial of a few numbers, I can get help right away.

Time is Money

As they say in business ‘time is money’.

Having a great Information Technology support system provides huge efficiency to a business.

Read this excerpt taken from another article on CIO.com:

“It’s tough to find the right IT skills you need when you need them. When a technology is on the cutting edge, few people have experience with it, and competition for them is intense. Over time, more workers pick up the skills—but by then, the IT world has moved on to the next big thing. Along the way, projects languish and companies miss out on lucrative opportunities.”

The growth for help desk jobs is being driven by the constant evolution of technology and greater skill demands.

As an extreme example, consider a Baird investment banker who is having an issue with a platform that connects he/she directly with his/her clients and it takes a day to fix by his/herself. The deal needs to be made by the end of the day today but the banker can’t figure out the issue. The company now loses out on a half a billion dollar deal.

Now consider this. This same task would maybe take an hour for a knowledgeable IT specialists. This would allow the banker to complete the task necessary to close the deal.

GET IT: Time is money. I don’t know about you but I could use an extra half a billion dollars.

Tim Duffy, author of the above article, shares, “Not filling IT jobs in a timely fashion has serious consequences. In the Information Week survey, 79% of the large-company respondents said they had to delay IT projects for lack of people. Worse yet, 48% said staffing shortages resulted in poor-quality work, and 33% said they caused the company to miss revenue opportunities.”

SIMPLY PUT: That’s not good.

HELP! HELP!

They need you.

In a statement made by Steve Ehlmann, a county executive, “Some of the best wage rates – from entry level to management – are earned by dedicated and well-trained workers in the growing information technology sector.”

EXTRA INCENTIVE ALERT.

Technology is not slowing down and the workforce can use you talented IT individuals.

Don’t be shy and put those skills to use.

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Millennials are Changing the Workforce

12155264433_5dde9733a4_bAccording to the Pew Research Center, “More than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials.” Since the majority of the workforce consists of millennials, it is important to understand the many routes company’s are taking in order to adapt their organizational culture to the changing workforce.
Millennials are pushing for many changes to be made that better accommodate their working habits to allow them to be more efficient and thrive in their careers. Managers are working to implement changes in order to attract millennial workers to their company and keeping their current millennial workers from leaving them for a company that they believe better meets their needs. I’m going to dive into a few of the way that both managers and millennial employees can work to create a cohesive work environment.

It’s more than a job, it’s my identity

Millennials are a generation that is changing the ways of the workforce. Helen Zhao wrote in a Huffington Post article that “…millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the U.S. work force last year, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census data.” This means that they have an enormous amount of leverage and opportunities to change the way things run. Millennials are known as an un-loyal  generation who are not likely to stay at a company for more than a few years. This is because this generation is more focused on pursuing a career where they feel they are making a difference because they identify very strongly with what they do for work. In past generations, it was easier to separate your sense of identity, and who you are as a person from what you did at work. In the Huffington Post article written by Zhao, an organizational development expert named Jessica Geist says “The work force that used to be based on machines is now based on human minds, human creativity, human capability,” which is why today’s workers are much more attached to what they’re contributing to the world.

This clear connection between millennials and their field, it’s no wonder why they are so quick to leave a company if they feel they are no longer gaining or contributing value in the company. The most important thing is to improve the knowledge and capabilities you can bring to the table, and becoming a more efficient worker. The need to work for a company, or a cause that they care about is what drives their decisions in their next big career move.

When given the opportunity to learn from a good coach, millennials will be loyal to that boss. Their loyalty does not lie with a specific company, they do not have a problem with switching company’s every few years, and they will. However, if they are working for a good boss who teaches and inspires them they are more likely to stay at a single job. The same goes for the cause they are supporting.

Communication is key

When a business is built with a hierarchy of positions in place, most of the information is delivered to employees on a need to know basis. This however is rapidly changing where millennials have a say. The transparency of a company is very important to the millennial generation. It allows for collaboration across the company, and it brings a sense of community to the workplace. According to Bonnie Monych at Insperity, “The millennial model has no hidden agendas or secrets, and encourages open access to meetings and information.” This is more possible today than in previous generations simply because of technology. It is so simple now to add the entire company to an email list with updates, and keep everything organized in a collaborative single place that everyone can access.

With this communication and transparency across the company, there is much more opportunity for leadership, and remember, you do not have to be a manager to be a leader. Any employee can take the initiative in getting a project started and off the ground, or work to motivate and inspire their colleagues. The organizational structure is evolving from a chain of command to be more flat with less higher-ups, and more team-orientated work. This warrants communication across all departments and levels of the business. When all employees at a company have access to the same resources and information, the possibilities for new innovations are endless. Problems may be solved at faster rates with the collaborative efforts of the entire company.

Put me in Coach

If managers want to better manage their millennial employees they need to stop “managing” and start “coaching.” In a Harvard Business Review article by Karrie Millyerd, she wrote, “Our subsequent conversations with hundreds of Millennials made it clear that what they want most from their managers isn’t more managerial direction, per se, but more help with their own personal development.” This goes back to the way millennials view a job as more than a position at a company, but as a crucial part of who they are. With the right coaching and inspirations there is no telling what this generation will do in order to make positive contributions to society.

Millennials want feedback so they can grow to work more efficiently and effectively. Matthew Arrington states in an article on business.com that “Because Millennials love causes bigger than themselves, companies should track their employees’ sources of inspiration through surveys charting their goals, interests, and feelings.” Implementing professional development programs within the company will attract more millennial workers and motivate them to stay at a company longer.  Offering opportunities to further their education is another thing millennials look for in a company. Improving upon existing skills, as well as gaining more relevant skills will absolutely grant success in inspiring employees. Millennials already have a desire to learn, so providing the proper resources to allow them to develop their abilities is a great way to attract millennial employees to a company.

Adapting to change isn’t always easy. But with the right mindset, hard work, and dedication the whole process will go much smoother. Once the next generation or two start joining the workforce, I’m sure we’ll see a whole new set of workers trying to change the model that was put in place by the millennial generation.

Millennials and Their Endless Misconceptions

It’s no secret that there’s a negative feeling towards Millennials in this day and age; however, that can definitely be changed. Some people believe that Millennials don’t have valuable opinions or constantly need to be guided in the right direction. But luckily a lot of these misconceptions are exactly that — misconceptions. However, there is one misconception that has been deemed the self-confirmed Millennial stereotype.

The Self-Confirmed Millennial Stereotype

Among the few stereotypes that have actually proven themselves to be somewhat accurate, is the idea that Millennials have a poor work ethic. Though this certainly can not be tagged on to each and every Millennial in the world, approximately 50% of Millennials will actually agree that they do in fact have a poor work ethic, according to the results from a study performed by Bentley University. And what’s even more surprising, is that 66% of Millennials believe that employers should decrease the usage of social media in order to better engage their employees and thereby increase work ethic. This is a very interesting point, as Millennials themselves are saying it would help to decrease social media usage, rather than someone looking from the outside in.

employee-sleeping-at-Office-DeskAdditionally, an annual survey over the years performed by the University of Michigan found that 38% of Millennials said they do not want to work hard, as opposed to 26% of Boomers not wanting to work hard. That’s a 12% difference between the Boomers and the Millennials’ desires to work hard in order to earn their standing in the workforce. In addition to this, when asked if they would continue to work if they had enough money, 29% of Millennials said they would not work, and only 22% of Boomers said they would not work. These results clearly demonstrate a generational change between the Boomers and the Millennials and the ideals they have in the workforce.

So Why Do They Have A Poor Work Ethic?

According to Stefanie Williams in her article in the Huffington Post, Millennials always expect that the job hunt will be easier than it actually is. They expect to be offered the first position they apply for and start at the top. Surprisingly, over half of the Millennial population think that an employer should promote them after only one year, regardless of awards and achievements. This could be one of the main considerations when trying to figure out why Millennials have such a poor work ethic. They expect to just be handed everything.

Additionally, Millennials claim that the typical 9-5 job just isn’t cutting it anymore. In such a fast growing world, Millennials argue that companies should be more flexible in allowing employees to choose their own work hours and schedules. In doing so, Millennials claim that they would be more motivated to work on their own time, instead strictly on Monday through Friday from 9-5. According to the study performed by Bentley University as mentioned above, 89% of the Millennial generation claims to regularly check their work email after work hours. This demonstrates that if employers were to change to a more flexible work schedule, than it is highly likely that companies would get more work out of the younger Millennial generation after the typical business hours.

Another point to consider is that growing up in a digital era where anything you could possibly need to know was readily available may have done more harm than good for the Millennials. They got so used to having automatic access to anything at the touch of a button, or even the short one-minute conversation with Siri to gather some answers. Because of this downfall, now Millennials are paying the price. Some employers admit that they try not to hire Millennials because of their known poor work ethic or some other stereotype floating around out there.

How Can They Change?

In order for Millennials and other generations to start getting along better, it is necessary that both sides understand the whole situation. Millennials see their employers as “living in the past” and not evolving to current trends, whereas other generations see Millennials as only worrying about themselves and expecting more paid time off. However, these are extremes for both sides of the discussion and it is important for all generations to acknowledge this key point.

The other generations are the ones who occupy the majority of the management roles currently. This means that they worked extremely difficult and put in long days, nights, and weekends to earn their spot in management. Therefore, they believe that they know exactly what it takes to be successful in the world — grueling hard work and endless dedication.

On the other side, the Millennials have very different views than those of their employers. Millennials no longer believe in working the standard 9-5 today, and think that a flexible work schedule would increase their motivation. They’re not asking for more time off or even to work from home, they are simply asking that they have control of their own work schedule and may even put in time on the weekends or from their homes in the evenings. Additionally, Millennials value a strong work-life balance more than any other generation that preceded them. They don’t want their lives to be consumed with work; they want to be able to have families and take care of their families before work matters.

Even though it seems that Millennials have clashing opinions from those of other generations, it is definitely possible to find a happy medium in the middle. First off, Millennials need to stop thinking they know everything and actually listen to what the other generations have to say. Those people all got to their positions for a reason, and it was likely the hard work that everyone is talking about. Next, other generations need to stop grouping all Millennials together with the negative stereotypes. Just because one individual follows the stereotype does not mean the next individual will. If these two big steps are taken on both sides of the spectrum, then huge progress will be achieved as far as mending the relationships between Millennials and other generations, and hopefully putting an end to all those countless misconceptions and stereotypes concerning the Millennials.

Preparing for the Working World

The working world is a big place and it can be very difficult to know where to begin and how to begin after graduating college. Millennials face an extra barrier in the sense that there are many negative stereotypes associated with our work ethic. However, there are so many skills and a lot of knowledge we can bring to the table to counteract the ideas employers may have regarding these stereotypes. Using the resources and opportunities given to us can also give individuals a leg up when entering the competitive environment of the field of information technology and data analysis.

Before You Graduate

There are many things millennials can do before we graduate college that will present us with the best opportunities after graduation. Firstly, use the career center if your school has one! It is there for the purpose of helping you grow certain skills that will help you when beginning to search for jobs. The people in the career office know important information about many fields and how to adjust your resume and cover letters for the application process in that field of choice. It is also helpful to run practice interviews so you know what to expect in an interview with a real company.

Secondly, do your research. There are so many great sources on the internet and beyond that are easily accessible. Since the fields of information technology and data analysis are such broad fields, it is important to know what you want to go into and what opportunities exist within these fields. Doing your research will also show the companies you are applying at in the future that you are truly invested and interested in the field.

The information you find may also guide you towards getting certificates and internships that will provide the experience and skills that are highly valued in the field that you are looking into. Certificates are highly recommended in the field of IT and data analysis because it gives you extra studies and skills in a specific area that companies utilize to run their businesses. Getting internships are also highly recommended because these positions give you hands on experience that will teach you the routines of the position as well as allow you to apply the knowledge you learned in school. If the internship is paid then that’s even better!

successInternships and shadowing professionals are an excellent ways to make connections in the working world. There are many other ways to do this as well and it is very important. Volunteering is one popular suggestion for millennials in regards to making connections and there are a few reasons for this. Businesses today are becoming more involved in social responsibility of many varieties as it is becoming more the standard. So, volunteering allows you to work with individuals from some of these companies while combating the idea that millennials are self-oriented and have poor work ethic.

Your Personal Brand

As millennials entering the workforce, it is crucial that we make ourselves stand out. However, you may want to ask yourself how you want to be seen. The topics discussed above are excellent ways to give yourself a positive brand to employers; however, there is much more that goes into your personal brand than just those elements.

Most millennials are very tech savvy and are active on one or more social platforms. Know that many employers will look at these pages when deciding to hire you. Look at your social content and see what kind of person you portray to people of all cultures, socioeconomic statuses, religions, sexualities, etc. If you have to question any posts or pictures, it is best to just delete them. Play on the safe side and represent the type of person that employers and others would see as respectable. Don’t make them question whether you are a good fit based off of what you post on your page.

LinkedIn is a very good way to make yourself known using social media. It is a way to showcase your skills and experience so employers can find this information easily. This is also the perfect place to link your personal websites and projects you have done that are relevant to the field or the skills needed in the field. LinkedIn also is very useful for finding connections within your school, field of work, area of emphasis, specific companies, and more. This gives you the opportunity to communicate with these connections and also gives them the opportunity to reach out to you.

The Job Hunt Process

The job application process can be long and grueling or short and simple. It all depends on the company and jobs you are applying for so don’t be discouraged if the process doesn’t go as expected. The most important thing is preparation. All of the topics discussed above will aid you in preparing for the job hunt but there are a few more steps that need to be taken to make yourself more marketable to employers who are searching for that perfect candidate.

  • Use a resume template unique to the field you are looking at. To find these, ask a career adviser or look online to find a template.
  • Write a cover letter! Even if the application doesn’t request that you write one, it is important that you let the company know why you are interested in the company and use your voice to let them get a small glimpse of who you are.
  • Research the company and the market. There is a high chance that you will be asked a question on this. If you know something about the market and the company, it shows the employer that you are invested.
  • Follow up on your interviews. Showing your appreciation by thanking your interviewer for their time is so important and they will appreciate the note.
  • Be prepared to answer questions on specific software programs and data sets. Know the types of projects the company works on in relation to your position to gather the best idea of what they want you to know how to do.

There are other tips and tricks that will help you prepare for the job hunt and for the working world in general. Take some time to look online because there are many resources out there. Along with being prepared, be CONFIDENT and relax! The employer wants to also see that you are confident in what you do and that you can interact with them in a positive manner.