May I be among the first to wish the Class of 2017 congratulations. As you receive your diplomas and celebrate four years of hard work, you deserve the opportunity to relish in your accomplishments. The dust will soon settle, however, and it will soon be time to put everything you’ve learned to the test.
While members of Generation Z, or the App Generation, may have a few internships under their belt, the transition from classroom to office can be difficult. But as businesses across all industries find themselves in the throes of solving for broader digital transformation challenges, the App Generation is at a significant advantage as digital natives. In fact, CIOs are doubling down on revamping their strategy to accommodate this new subset of workers. That said, as you begin your job applications and secure those first-round interviews, here are a few insights into today’s workplace to give you that important leg up:
- Remote work is on the rise. Without realizing it, members of the App Generation have been training for long-distance collaboration since they were first handed a smart phone. Learning from early tools such as instant messaging and video chat, Gen Z is uniquely prepared for the communication challenges that haunt their elder counterparts. While some companies are still on the fence, it would behoove new graduates to call out examples in their interviews of times when they’ve collaborated remotely. I’d also tell them to highlight the tools they rely on to be productive regardless of where they do their best work. It’s a skill set that is increasingly valuable in our mobile-first environment.
- Shadow IT is a very real concern. A term that may be new to recent graduates, Shadow IT is the adoption of tools outside of IT-approved solutions. Businesses view it as a security risk: in the age of app proliferation, employees are increasingly willing to seek out and leverage tools they deem more effective despite IT directives. This is especially true of App Generation employees, which are among the quickest to discard platforms that don’t meet their expectations or work effectively. When researching a potential employer, candidates should ask prospective employers about the solutions they typically deploy for staff and understand how most employees communicate.
- Expect rapid change. While the notion that technology will fundamentally change how businesses operate is by no means new, the rate at which it is occurring is increasing exponentially. The move to the cloud, the embrace of AI, machine learning, and other intelligent solutions is happening as we speak. By the time adoption reaches critical mass, the cycle will have begun with the next breakthrough. With that in mind, the next generation of employees can best prepare with the right mindset. Above all, be flexible. Demonstrate a keen ability for pivoting on a dime and adapting to the latest innovation. It will be all the more attractive to potential employers.
To say that the App Generation is joining the workforce during a period of rapid technology change is an understatement. Business leaders are realigning their priorities as a result of digital transformation while planning for the expectations of an increasingly digital-first workforce. Through their formative experiences with technology, the App Generation is uniquely positioned to thrive in this environment and lead the innovation needed to help their employers succeed.
Best of luck!