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Can you keep up with your Millennial interns?

4 min read
By Jillian Phipps 

If employers want to maximize their possibility of hiring Millennial interns and employees, then businesses will need to create the kind of workplace that Millennials want to come to. 

Millennial interns aren’t necessarily looking for glamorous, overly-fulfilling positions, but they’re certainly viewing a higher bar. Today’s workplace operators have coached and re-coached HR professionals in finding Millennial job candidates—but “intern” is a position still up for grabs when effective approaches are considered.

At the baseline, Millennials aren’t looking for the typical intern experience. They want much, much more. Let’s dive into the Millennial intern’s top priorities, straight from the bottom up.

Priority 1: Specialization

Sure, everyone wants to be considered a workplace guru, but Millennials have displayed an incredible want for workplace definition. In short: They want to be known for skill, not achieved monetary goals. Unlike previous generations, Millennials are surrounded by mass information. In 2016, this information is a currency. Think about it: When was the last time online research has directly influenced your ability to make money?

This is reflected in the internship world, and incoming Millennials are prioritizing uniqueness over the same, time-tested-and-true workhorse formula. No, they’re not lazy. They’re just valuing specialization over optimization.

Priority 2: Innovation

We live in the world of Steve Jobs, where every mind holds potential. While the workplace may be a well-oiled machine—one optimized for success—Millennials may accidentally toss a wrench between the cogs by striving for innovation.

At the internship level, they’ll still strive for uniqueness but taken a step further, however, they’re likely to prioritize innovation over rules. Again, they’re not necessarily breaking from the herd to cause problems. They are, however, carrying an ingrained mindset of entrepreneurship.


Priority 3: Feedback

Let’s face it: Today’s workforce is slim. There’s a reason Millennial turnover is bad, and it isn’t because of laziness. It’s the job market, and it’s the same overdose of information. Millennials know their numbers, and they won’t stick around when said numbers don’t meet their needs.

More importantly, they’re likely to prioritize feedback over run-of-the-mill responses. Today, Millennials can simply look up workplace statistics, employee reviews, salaries and prospective job routes following internship. What they can’t look up is personalized feedback. Millennials, paid or not, thrive on feedback. Positive or negative, in-depth feedback is a surefire resource for keeping a Millennial intern hard at work and satisfied.

Priority 4: Peer Connection

There’s a fine line between social media networking and wasting away on Facebook. For this reason, successful HR managers are turning to peer connection solutions to level the playing field. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Millennial interns—again, obsessed with feedback—are surprisingly good team players. They’ve adopted the world of LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. They understand social graces deeply, and they’re more likely to adopt winning strategies in group atmospheres. A peer connection between intern and intern is vital. A peer connection between intern and business operator—more so.

Priority 5: Privacy

On the flip side, Millennial interns are more likely than their generational predecessors to value privacy over shared information in the workplace. Because they’ve grown up in a world dominated by all-access-granted information, they’re likely to shy away from overindulgence in a workplace governed by technology.

It can be tempting to bond with a Millennial intern, but don’t probe. Unfortunately, the fine line between Millennial connection and overstepped boundaries is a thin one. A Millennial intern is, however, likely to strive more when left to their own devices—socially. No, they’re not temperamental, but they do work in a glass house—professionally. While every generation is different, Millennials are seemingly one of the hardest to pin down. That said, their capacity for long, invested workplace relationships is high—assuming they get through the door. 

Interested in more topics pertaining to Millennials? Check out our other blog posts Three steps to attracting young, tech savvy employees and How to recruit and retain Millennials.

Millenial interns

Jillian is a marketing coordinator at PI.

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