Welcome to the Real World Gen Y Workforce

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Last Tuesday, May 20th, we had the pleasure of hosting a Gen Y Workforce Think Tank at the #DellVenue in New York. We brought together students, professionals and career experts to discuss how the workplace and workforce are evolving and priorities of both universities and employers as they look to prepare and hire Gen Y. Through this Social Think Tank we were able to listen and capture meaningful feedback to better serve our customers and help to achieve our 2020 goals around increasing university recruiting and hiring to a rate of 25 percent of all external hiring and encouraging eligible team members to enroll in Dell flexible work programs, increasing global participation to 50 percent.


The event was moderated by Intern Queen.com Founder and CEO and author, Lauren Berger, and was followed by an event to celebrate the launch of her new book, Welcome to the Real World. The think tank participants included Youth Innovation Advisor Eva Shang, student Opal Vadhan, and GenYNot producer Daniel Leon-Davis; Work/AOL Jobs’ Jill Jacinto; The Social Co.’s Natalie Zfat; Skai Blue Media’s Rakia Reynolds; Major Hacking League’s Jon Gottfriend; Dell’s University Relations Program Manager Christina Onori; and Dell’s Global Education Communication Manager Sarah Luden. Here’s a breakdown of the lively conversation:

We discussed several topics including:

  • How can universities best prepare students for graduation?
  • What tools and information do young people need before entering the real world?
  • What is expected of an entry-level employee in today’s workplace?
  • What impact does social media have on landing that dream job? 

Some of the key things that Gen Y values:

  • The ability to have ownership over their projects at work
  • Structure from universities and employers around  expectations and what skills they can hope to get from an internship or first job
  • The need for more training on building your personal brand in social media from universities; LinkedIn and other social sites can be crucial to finding jobs
  • Options in where and how they work – whether that’s in an office from 9-5 or from home or a coffee shop

Advice for Gen Y from employers in the room:

  • Be resourceful; go past the first page of Google to find what you need
  • Come with your own learning objectives; what skills do you want to walk away with from a given internship?
  • Be adaptable; technology is changing every day – be willing to learn new tools and skills on the job
  • Make yourself indispensable; find out what your differentiator is and use that to your advantage
  • Be open to advice and seek feedback often

Key takeaways and next steps:

  • Cross reference the list of Gen Y values and what employers are looking for and make sure they align with what you are doing
  • Respect the promises you make to interns – whether its academic credit, sticking to a particular schedule or teaching a particular skill that they have interest in
  • Recognize what universities are not currently doing and see where Dell and other employers can have an impact
  • Look into extending social media training into universities so students are better equipped to build personal brands and find jobs

We look forward to continuing the conversation with our Think Tank attendees in the near future and discovering how Dell can have a positive impact .

We had a graphic artist on hand to capture the conversation. You can see the illustrations from Image Think here.

To view the entire Think Tank you can view the Livestream recording here or check out the highlights on the event Storify page here.

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