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Use Your Youth to Your Advantage

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By Gayle Hallgren-Rezac and Darcy Rezac

Use Your Youth to Your AdvantageYour first job may be as an intern, but you might be surprised what impact a humble intern can make. Yes, it can mean a lot of ‘sitting around and waiting’ as busy people in the firm think up things for you to do.  Don’t begrudge the ‘Joe jobs’ you may end up doing. Suck it up and do them enthusiastically. Remember, you have something many firms are looking for—an insight into what youth is thinking and doing.

TEEN SCRIBBLER
A fifteen-year old kid, Matthew Robson, was interning at Morgan Stanley in London.  A media analyst in the office asked Matthew to describe the media habits of people his own age.  Matthew dove into the request and wrote what the head of the media analyst team at Morgan Stanley called “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen.”  Morgan Stanley published it and distributed it. It not only caused a sensation among middle-aged media executive and investors but it created a huge buzz on the Internet and as a “teen scribbler” headline in newspapers around the world.

So what are the lessons here? In a tough job market one of the ways to make your presence known is to be a source of knowledge. Offer up your knowledge to those more senior than you, even if you don’t get the opportunity handed to you like Matthew Robson’s lucky break.

NOT JUST ADVICE FOR INTERNS
You don’t have to be in the role of intern to share your youth perspective with others in your organization. As a younger employee, ask yourself, does your firm have a need for more information on what Gen Yers are thinking and doing?  Does your firm have an internal website or wiki where you could add information on what’s hot in the blogosphere, twittering or latest devices, downloads and more.  If you make yourself a budding expert, others in the firm will look at you differently and take notice.  What if you don’t want to take the entire spotlight?  Perhaps put together a team of young people so that senior executives can access your group for information on what youth is doing and buying.  Equally as important is what you won’t buy, read or do.  They want to know that as well.

What are the roadblocks to this strategy?  Make sure the knowledge that you have to offer is something that management would find interesting or valuable.  Figure out who you should approach in your organization with your idea, and then be bold enough to do it.

To find out what Matthew Robson had to say that was so valuable to Morgan Stanley read his report:

Gayle Hallgren-Rezac is Vice-President of Marketing for the Shepa Learning Company, a training and development company. She is co-author of Work The Pond! Use the Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Work and Life (Prentice Hall, 2005) with Darcy Rezac and Judy Thomson, available at Amazon.ca.
Darcy Rezac is Managing Director & Chief Engagement Officer, The Vancouver Board of Trade and Chief Executive, The Rix Center for Corporate Citizenship & Engaged Leadership. Visit The Pond at www.workthepond.com to sign up for a free weekly Positive Networking® tip.

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