Thursday 14th July, 2016

What we can all learn from graduates

Rachel McBryde takes a look at what millennials have to teach us about no-nonsense communications.


During the course of my recent research into millennials, who now make up 1 in 4 of all adults (Bauer Knowledge; The Millennials Chapter provides a worthwhile study) I became fascinated by the notion that many graduates have never really known adult life before recession and the effects of this on their work ethic.

Now I’m not seeking to generalise about an entire generation, and I’m only really talking here about my own experience of working with graduates. The take-out here is that perhaps having to fight tooth and nail to gain work experience, never mind an actual paid job, breeds a certain type of young professional who is exactly that; professional, no-nonsense, switched on, focused and fearless.

There was a time, pre-2008 when I worked with a group of graduates who seemed rather entitled. They wanted the job title and salary of a senior manager – and they certainly weren’t afraid to ask for it. Yet ask them why they felt they deserved it and how they’d added value to the business in the short space of time they’d been employed and their arguments didn’t stack up.

In the preceding years this has shifted massively and I am hugely inspired by the new breed of graduates. Being on, or ahead of, a communications trend and knowing how to apply it seems second nature and many seem absolutely unphased by giving things a go – even if they’re a little out of their comfort zone, an attitude perhaps bourn out of the situation they find themselves in.

Set them a task, and they don’t look blank, they go off and make it happen. Their research skills are impeccable, and their ability to problem solve knows no ends.  Most of all many are incredibly dedicated – I was hugely impressed by the graduate who, unbidden and unexpected, got up at 4.30am to call a gallery in Australia as soon as it opened in a bid to track down an obscure image needed for a pressing deadline.

I’m not suggesting that dedication and tenacity are only the preserves of graduates – at the end of the day hard work pays off whoever you are.  And perhaps its just coincidence that the recent cohort are genuinely more help than hindrance – but reading the insights into the attitudes of millennials towards their careers rang so true when I applied them to many of those graduate colleagues I currently work with. And that is massively exciting for the future of creative communications.