To say this week has changed my preconceived image of our recent graduates would be a understatement. What’s more surprising is that it has shaken my foundational view of blue-collar Americans. If I had to write a letter today it would read something like this:
“Dear Millennials, I was wrong.”
To set this up properly I have to give you a little insight. I have the amazing privilege of being part of a team that believes in changing industry by changing lives. Our company has a heart to serve and give back in a time when most aren’t willing to do the same. Part of that vision was to offer FREE Leadership and Management training to anyone who had been laid off, downsized, seeking new opportunity, or whatever you want to call it. We blasted this opportunity through social media, professional networks, direct contacts and even personal phone calls. We’re talking thousands of dollars in opportunity. This isn’t to toot my horn but just to let you know the magnitude of what we we’re offering. After 3 days soliciting engineers, roughnecks, upstream, midstream, downstream, anyone impacted by the downturn in O&G absolutely NO ONE had registered for the opportunity.
I was reminded of a young gentleman I’d met at the Offshore Technology Conference several weeks ago. He was a student at the University of Houston and was enrolled in the Petroleum Engineering program. It was as if God said, “Who needs opportunity more than them?” I called our CEO and we quickly hashed out all we could offer. Although we’ve never done this before we know it’s training and guidance they cannot find at a university. The decision was made to launch a “feeler” and gauge interest. I mean, this is their summer vacation after all. The response we got was like nothing I’ve ever seen!
If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you’ll have to settle for the ordinary. – John Rohn
The same course we’d offered to industry professionals for 3 days was overbooked in 3 hours by Petroleum Engineering students and recent graduates. Young professionals informed their colleagues and those colleagues talked their interns and those interns called their underclassmen and so it went. Registrations came in from Associates, Bachelors, and Masters programs ranging from local Community Colleges, The University of Houston, and Texas A&M. Once I got over the shame of placing an entire generation into a prejudicial box of laziness my next question was, Why?
Here are the 3 reasons you should be investing in Millennials:
- Passion: In the conversations I’ve had with some of those who are pumping out CV’s multiple times a day and swearing to do anything for work, when it comes down to it unfortunately, that’s rarely the truth. It’s as if someone is crying out because they’re starving and when you offer them some solid food they refuse until you can come back with a bigger plate. What I’ve found is a lot of blue-collar workers are more interested in the idea of doing whatever it takes than actually doing it. Often times, it’s because they’ve lost sight of why they began this journey in the first place. Today’s college graduates are in touch with that passion. This Millennial generation seems to be driven by being part of something larger, greater, or more inspiring. Best part of all, they’re willing to invite others into it. Is it possible we could be putting the days of “eating-our-own” behind us and start doing Leadership the right way?
- Social Networking: Let’s be honest. My toddler knows how to work every single ounce of technology in our home better than I do. But it’s not the technology that causing us to get left behind, it’s our content. There’s a reason why I can write a beautiful article that only gets read 100 times (maybe) and any student within a mile of me can jump on Facebook Live and have 1000 followers watching in a matter of minutes. It’s also the same reason I can offer a course for several days without any response, then put it in the hands of one college socialite and fill a classroom in a few hours. The Millennial generation not only knows how to network, they know how to use the network to their advantage. Their marketing potential seems endless.
- It’s Our Future: Let’s be real. We’re not getting any younger. Every generation before us has walked in the snow, uphill both ways since the beginning of time and now it seems to be our industry’s time to momentarily sit on the peak and scoff in judgement before we start our own decent. If we’re honest, pulling generations of professionals into the industry and telling them, “You’ll figure it out.”, hasn’t boded well for us. Recent history proves that experience alone is not enough and leadership gaps, although viewed as a soft skill, can have dire consequences. Just as we save and invest in education funds for our legacy we also need to be investing in the legacy of our industry. When markets turn and the new generation of professionals take the helm it will be obvious who was deliberate in developing their organization and who was more focused on saving a dollar.
I’ve seen the blue-collar worker fold when the pressure is on. The people I thought would persevere any trial are the ones holding out for another dollar and claiming to be worth more than the market’s value. I know they’re not all like this, but neither is the next generation. I guess the question is, “Who’s the one acting entitled?”