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Tech-savvy college hires bring integration, communication challenges to IT workplaces

Fred O'Connor | June 6, 2013
Training methods tailored to the latest generation of IT workers help ease the transition.

"[They] want to be challenged to solve something and providing that framework is what we've seen gets them into the game," Waghray said. "Whether I'm using legacy technology or a new technology, it's more about solving the customer's problem."

As vice president of human resources, Black Duck Software's Tammi Pirri reminds staff that recent college graduates grew up with the Internet always being available.
As vice president of human resources, Black Duck Software's Tammi Pirri reminds staff that recent college graduates grew up with the Internet always being available.

At Verizon, younger generations value a flexible environment where their ideas are welcomed and questions listened to over projects dealing with the latest technology, he said.

"There is a belief that the generation will only work on fancy new things, but they actually like to work a certain way," Waghray said.

For younger employees at Black Duck Software in Burlington, Massachusetts, that environment is less formal with guidelines replacing firm rules and a flexible work day, not a standard eight-hour shift, is the norm.

These staff members may work six hours in the office, attend necessary meetings and then head home where they'll work for four hours, said Tammi Pirri, vice president of human resources, at the company, which provides open-source software consulting to enterprises.

She reminds managers that their new direct reports come from a background where letters are rarely sent through the mail and the Internet has always existed. These experiences will lead them to ask questions as they attempt to understand their new environment.

Pirri also provides this generational primer to employees who will be working with interns, some of whom later end up landing jobs at the company in roles like software development and quality assurance. Of the nine interns hired by the company this year, five are working in the engineering group.

"They're not just asking so many questions based on a false belief of entitlement," she said. "They're asking a lot of questions because they haven't had that exposure or haven't had that deep penetration. There's a level of flexibility you want to offer based on lack of experience or lack of knowledge."

Questions also come from this generation's need to land a job to pay their college loans, a financial burden their predecessors may not have had, Pirri said. And they're facing a competitive job market where interviews include demonstrating technical skills so "the rigors of testing mean they have to be on the top of their game as well."

For a generation that asks questions, their listening skills are surprisingly strong, Pirri said.

 

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