I had the pleasure of attending the Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) annual conference in June 2018 and hearing the remarks of the opening keynote speaker with Dr. Corey Seemiller, one of the leaders in the field of researching Generation Z. This session was eye opening, as I was not familiar with the characteristics of Generation Z. Below are some of the highlights from Dr. Seemiller’s session.
Generation Z is the postmillennial generation born between 1995 and 2010. There are Big Zs (born between 1995 and 2002) and Little Zs (born between 2003 and 2010) and currently the Big Zs are attending colleges/universities. This generation grew up in the post-recession era and have experienced natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma where 1.7 million kids could not attend school after these storms.
Generation Z admire their parents with 65% stating that their parents are their #1 role models. In addition, these students want their parents to be a part of their lives and serve as “co-pilots” versus the dreaded “helicopter parents.”
These students are motivated by their passions and achieving milestones. They enjoy experiential and intrapersonal learning and are not fond of group work. They prefer to journal, think, and prepare prior to engaging in group work. Generation Z enjoys taking in-person classes and/or hybrid classes versus only online and they actually prefer in person communication. They see volunteer work as integral to their school and work life – twenty-six percent of 16-19-year olds already volunteer on a regular basis.
This generation is very familiar with online social media and like sharing personal information via Instagram and Snapchat. They receive and learn new knowledge through YouTube and women enjoy Pinterest. They tend to communicate via GroupMe or Whatsapp applications.
Generation Z is very self-motivated and nearly half want to be self-employed. Around 40% want to change the world by developing an invention and 18% have already joined the gig economy. There are specific qualities this generation seeks to find in their work: enjoyment and happiness, making a positive impact, fulfillment and passion, financial stability, advancement and personal growth opportunities, success, welcoming and diverse workplaces, and hybrid work options.
As we examine this current generation, we see aspects of previous generations like, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. We will continue to learn more about the characteristics of this generation as Big and Little Zs continue to enroll in college and enter the workforce. It is crucial that we strive to understand this new generation and learn how best to assist them in reaching their potential.
Valerie Kielmovitch Mandel is the Director within the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University- Daytona Beach. She has worked in the Career Services office at ERAU since 2010. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida and her Master of Education specializing in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina. Valerie has a diverse background in the field of higher education from residence life to career services.