As hiring managers, you’ve probably had your fair share of experience hiring interns and entry level staff. And if you have, I’m guessing that you likely have your opinions about the millennial generation or ‘Gen-Y’. We hear it all to often from our clients that this group is “over empowered”, “…expect to be doing executive work right away”, “…and expect senior level salaries from day one!” These are the things we hear, but a few weeks ago Boost Agents together with Ad Lounge was fortunate enough to work with 63 young Gen-y-ers in a program that proved every one of the stereotypes above wrong.
What’s this ‘program’? It’s called the Next Gen Dinner Series, an incredible opportunity for students to meet their peers and potential employers, gain critical skills in interviewing, personal branding, communication and networking. This program offers its participants a “prize” for making it to the final round. The prize includes a free gourmet dinner with an industry big-wig and a chance to network with a room full of other hiring managers.
What’s in it for the sponsor organizations? A chance to meet up-and-coming industry talent and nurture the next generation of the business.
Here’s how it works: We receive over 300 applications from talented students and over a period of two weeks we narrow this down to 100 candidates, who are interviewed for a chance to attend the dinner and provided feedback on their portfolio and resume as well as given pointers on effective presentation skills. 63 are chosen out of that 100 to attend a free training session with Leslie Ehm of Three Training, on how to brand themselves, network effectively and prepare for the dinner. The dinner takes place in early May and afterwards, the top ten students are chosen to form a committee that puts on the event for the following year.
Here are some of the things we learnt about how to effectively engage and work with this generation:
Context and History is key. It’s amazing how engaged this generation can be when they are invested in something. Take the time to tell the story of a project or organization in detail. Get their buy-in. Get them to feel totally and utterly part of the philosophy. Elaborate on the history and background. What makes it special and different and how does it relate back to them?
Empowerment is important. Once context and history is offered up to these inquiring minds, and if they buy into it they’ll naturally feel empowered to get involved and make a difference. They’ll give you their “all”, provided they know where things came from and where things are going (and in turn, how it can benefit them).
Instill a little healthy competition. You’d be surprised at how competitive this generation is. Once they know the stakes are high, and once you’ve given them the two points above, they’ll fight with all fists forward to get an opportunity to participate. When this generation is personally invested in something, they will go above and beyond to achieve it.
The Next Gen Dinner Series is our way of getting to know the future of our industry. Throughout the organizing of the event, our team was constantly reminded of how much talent there is in this city. The future of our industry is going to be rich with innovative ideas and strong leadership. Want to know more about this unique event? Why not hear it from the students themselves?
“Schools can teach you a lot about advertising but they don’t teach you the art of networking, which should never be underestimated. The lesson that stood out the most was: have an opinion and be prepared to be told your opinion is wrong.’ Now I know to have a strong opinion, I share it, and I don’t fear hearing no.”
– Ashley Saunders
“From Leslie Ehm’s dynamic lessons on success and leadership to conversations with like-minded partners in crime -students of the industry, Dinner Series 13 was an eclectic set of experiences. One should take this invaluable opportunity to engage with Toronto’s best industry inhabitants as a chance to ask questions and learn; landing a position might potentially result from it however, your focus should be on exploring the field of interest and asking yourself where you fit in it.”
– Anelle Cherkashina
“Being able to have been apart of such a great experience from the personal brand development with Leslie Ehm to the final dinner with my table sponsored by Cameron Wykes’ agency KBS+/ Baby Robot definitley helped me work on aspects of myself that would help me further down in my career. I suggest that students in the years to come take advantage of this great opportunity and get involved.”
– Becky Umweni
You should also check out the beautifully done video by Marketing Magazine: 5 Big Tips from Next Gen Dinner for Aspiring Marketing Pros and hop on over to the website for photos and information on applying and sponsoring the program in the future. A big thank you to our 2013 sponsors and all of the incredibly talented students who participated!
Written by: Rachel Scott
Video: Oddly Studios