By Daina Lecuona
Millennials often have a negative reputation due to the lifestyle that comes from growing up with technology. We are viewed (perhaps rightly so) as a group that would rather spend time staring at a phone or a computer screen than with other people. For the Millennials that fit this description, this is your wake-up call. Staring at a phone screen won’t help you land your next position, or put you on the path to your dream career. The best way to set yourself up for success is to be an active networker and build strong relationships with other people… in the real world!
An easy step to take in this direction involves students’ interactions with guest speakers. While I was in graduate school, I noticed that an alarming number of fellow students preferred to look at their phones rather than pay attention to the guest speakers. These guest speakers were sharing insights on how to succeed, information about areas of the industry that were growing, and tips on how to avoid common career pitfalls.
Despite the theme of “it isn’t who you know, but who knows you” being constantly hammered at us throughout our academic careers, only a handful of my fellow students took the time to introduce themselves to guest lecturers after class and trade business cards. Regarding those who did: I have no idea if anything came out of those introductions, but my guess is that those who took the initiative to make personal contact will be the students who will succeed professionally. So, Millennials, put the phone down and actively try to create personal relationships – it may help you land a better job, climb the corporate ladder, and ultimately be more successful than your eyes-on-the-screen phone enthused counterparts.