Notes on Motivating Students & Grads to Get on the Ball

Doug MillerA post by Guest Blogger, Doug Miller, faculty member and New Media Manager, DePaul University

Douglas Lee Miller – Chicago, IL | On Twitter: @douglasLmiller

Motivating GenY is different from GenX – it is less about them and more about you.

GenY unemployment at 9% but what often gets overlooked is an even worse situation about UNDERemployment. Over half according to the Atlantic.

Many are delaying major life decisions as a result.

Retiring workers need to be replaced so there are some opportunities. There is a “grey ceiling” that exists for GenX since many boomers are delaying retirement due to recent economic downturns. When they do leave, GenX is not large enough to fill those spots so GenY will benefit – eventually. Luckily it seems employers are hungry for the fresh perspectives and creativity which is good for GenY but might be bad for GenX since there is baggage that comes along with bringing them on.

GenY students can benefit from this but often drop the ball when it comes to online presence and offline soft skills in interviewing and communication of transferable skills.

As a result the Career Advisory Board has been developed to meet the challenges facing career advisors.

47% of directors view lack of motivation as a major barrier for recent grads.

35% rank that lack of motivation as the number one barrier yet only 24% felt students lacked the skills needed to get careers. Why is this dissonance here?

Part of that is in the perceived mindset of GenY and in their girth. 4 million more than boomers (largest in US history.) It is believed that most GenYers believe they are better than the competition – obviously this can't be the case but their enculturation was such that they were all highly valued.

More insight can be found in an exploration of motivation (intrinsic vs. extrinsic.) A great resource about this is Dan Pink's book Drive.

Appeal to their personal passion and interest. Give over control to increase intrinsic motivation. Share the big picture. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (9781594484803): Daniel H. Pink: Books

Sometimes extrinsic is appropriate sometimes intrinsic. It depends on the person and the task. Luckily seeing people as individuals increases affinity among GenY in general so doing so increases intrinsic motivation.

Make the most of the first interaction – it will be key. Judgements will be made quickly.

They will remember more about how you made them feel than what you said. – Alexandra Levit

Start early, start often. Share expectations early – communicate what GenY is expected to do. Utilize peer influence – hold support group style events that pair older students with younger students (mentoring circles) to connect and share issues. Facilitate where you can. Motivate both students and peer mentors.

Model successful GenYers as success story marketing via in-person or virtual billboards for praise.

Bloggers thoughts: My concern with testimonials is that there may be unmeasurable negative consequences – that many students may have decreased motivation with the lifting up of outlier examples and great successes, due to lowered self esteem and a feeling of being left out or unfairly excluded. If GenY all feel like they are the best, should we be prepared to showcase all students to avoid making some feel excluded? Most in the room don't seem to share my concern.

Get top executives to call out those good examples.

They played a voicemail of an emotionally charged success thank you as a way to remind career service folks to feel empowered.

Present individual challenges to boost intrinsic motivation. Making challenges intriguing and game like can be highly effective but requires the creativity and involvement of the entire community. Motivation decreases quickly with failed expectations so make sure to manage expectations. Help them understand the mechanics of the process to keep them from being demotivated.

Faculty and parents can be key allies, just as can peers.

Final Blogger Thoughts: There was some discussion of the need to integrate digital tools. While I agree, I feel the need to warn that there is far more to leveraging social media than just Facebook – and in fact it may soon be the last place we want to be. Likewise, I worry that using digital tools could create negative impressions because we simply cannot match the user experience offered by modern digital tools.

Career Advisory Board | Devry University

One thought on “Notes on Motivating Students & Grads to Get on the Ball

  1. Very informative post. It’s interesting to see the dynamics between the different generations. While one may require more attention than another, it’s always important to follow-up with your employees to see where they’re excelling or where they’re struggling. As you highlighted, communication is how an employee knows what’s expected of them. Following-up can be the key to helping them reach that path.

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