Ambitious young workers want good, fast start
On the lookout for BMWs in the South End, or a new café in the North End, Andrew Giamberardino, a real estate analyst, covers a lot of ground.
The cars people drive, or the cafés they visit, help him make sense of the data, including income levels and sales, about the Hub's condo market. For his first job since graduating from college in May, Giamberardino is doing more footwork than grunt work.
"I've known people who just take a general job that anyone can do," said Giamberardino, 22, who works at Otis & Ahearn, a real estate marketing firm on Newbury Street. "They don't get into the stuff they studied in school, and they get bored. I'm lucky."
Generation Y - twentysomethings reared on instant messaging and iPods - are shaking the career ladder. They're more apt to look for jobs on craigslist.com than a corporate website. They're multitaskers; armed with savvy and skills, they're looking for good jobs from the get-go, job specialists said.
"Some kids think that because they have a degree, some jobs are beneath them," said Dick Leger, director of career services at Boston University. "They think they should be the manager of a department."
"They don't want to sit back and wait," agreed Nicholas Aretakis, a California job coach and author of "No More Ramen," a survival guide for younger workers. "The average kid today, by the time they're 17, probably has their first car, an iPod, computer, and cellphone . . . They want to move fast."
Gen Y poses a dilemma for employers of all sizes. With baby boomers aging, companies must figure out how to attract and retain young employees.
"We're all struggling with it," said Doris Murphy, senior vice president and human resources manager at SalemFive, a $2.5 billion banking company. "There are many differences in the work habits among baby boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y."
She said SalemFive, whose businesses include online banking and mortgage brokering, encourages senior managers to communicate with younger employees. "We don't want them to stay hidden in their offices," Murphy said. "It's important to know what employees are thinking." Ernst & Young two years ago created multigenerational workshops at the request of supervisors. "They were noticing differences in the newer generation of workers," said Janice Smith, a leadership consultant for the accounting giant. "They were coming in wanting to apply their leadership skills early on in the game."
The workshops, which stress teamwork and appreciation for employees' differences, have helped retain younger workers, she said
"They're able to quickly apply and use what they learn," Smith said. "This generation is just craving knowledge and information on how they can be even more successful."
The outreach is critical for workforce stability, Aretakis said.
"You realize, as an employer, that if you don't keep that talent pool fresh and challenged . . . you're going to spend a lot of time recruiting," he said.
Gen Y'ers can hardly be blamed for their ambition. They are the first generation exposed to school-to-work programs. The value of skills-building and internships were introduced to them at an early age.
"At some level, they'll get to know what it is that they really want to do," Leger said. "Once they have an idea, they become more committed, more passionate, and more determined to set and achieve goals."
Stephen Sperandio had a dream job in mind when he enrolled at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. He hoped to land an internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando. In his junior year, he spent six months working as a Disney cast member, narrating stage shows such as "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience." He was quickly sold on the hospitality industry.
In July, he started as a communications coordinator at the North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau in Peabody, one of 13 regional tourist councils statewide. He scouts convention business, books visits by out-of-state tour companies, and keeps the group's 300-plus members in the loop on tourism news.
"I didn't want to be a front desk agent in a hotel," said Sperandio, who graduated with a business degree in May. "I didn't have a job when I first graduated, but I didn't want a part-time job at the neighborhood school . . . I wanted a job where I could put to use all the skills I've acquired."
Before his senior year at the University of Denver, Giamberardino worked as an intern at the Collaborative Cos., a real estate marketing firm. He helped plan the company's move from Boston to Burlington. But he also pulled data on condo sales and prices. The task was tedious, but the information valuable, he said.
"It was work that definitely had to be done," he said. "It really wasn't grunt work. It played a huge role in the overall decisions the company made."
Before graduating in May, Giamberardino sent resumes to about a dozen real estate companies. He got three offers, including one from Otis & Ahearn, a direct competitor in his internship days. The internship "definitely helped me with the work I'm doing now," said Giamberardino, who majored in real estate marketing. "The job I have now has a lot of opportunity."
Kathy McCabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.