This week I have been at the 8th Annual Conference on Mentoring at the University of New Mexico’s Mentoring Institute. It has been an incredible opportunity, and I made several great connections!
Because my research centers on Millennials, I couldn’t help but notice that there was very little being discussed with a focus on unique traits of the Millennials as opposed to prior generations. In fact, I only saw one other presentation the entire time I was there with this as facet. It appeared that, at best, 20% of attendees were Millennial, with very few presenters.
This creates a problem unique to the subject matter. Certainly, mentoring takes place throughout generation and age groups, and can take many different forms. However, even at this conference, the majority of the mentoring discussed focuses on older individuals mentoring younger ones. In the US, Millennials are the largest generation to date, even outnumbering the Baby Boomers by around 8 million. Not actively including the demographic to be mentored runs the risk of misaligned objectives.
Particularly when it comes to career mentoring, Millennials face a very different environment than prior generations. As was mentioned over conversation at the conference, Millennials are the first generation to go to college because that was the next step after high school, rather than being driven by a clear objective (a specific job, industry, field, etc). And often, these degrees are debt-financed. Combine that with an over-saturated job market (except for a few fields, such as engineering), and Millennials are increasingly being pushed into sub-optimal jobs or those not related to their degrees, in order to pay off debt.
This is in area that Mentoring can heavily address. In fact, my salaried corporate position ultimately came about as a result of advice and coaching from my professional mentor. A mentor attuned to these unique issues can help a mentee focus on skill growth, professional networking, and becoming an ‘attractive’ candidate. But unless the mentor is fully in tune with these issues, the focus may erroneously be placed elsewhere.