Millennials talk careers: Naledi Hollbruegge
Human Resources

Millennials talk careers: Naledi Hollbruegge

09-09-2017-naledi-hollbrueggeName: Naledi Hollbruegge

Age: 27

Education: BSc Psychology (UEA), MSc Social and Cultural Psychology (LSE)

Current role: Consulting Analyst

Ideal role: (Consulting) Analyst

 

Are the stereotypes about millennials true?

Every generation takes issue with those that come afterwards. I believe that many stereotypes attributed to millennials are in fact opinions about ‘young people’ that are a feature of every generational conflict. When Millennials reach middle-age I am sure we will feel the same way about the younger generation. Culture and society are shaped most by those in power, who will be those of middle-age, who have been working long enough to be in positions of influence. They are the ones that define what is normal or abnormal so in the conflict of innovation and tradition, tradition often starts out from a stronger position of power. Each generation of young people grows up with new technologies and in a world with a completely different political system. This means that their outlook on life and the world is different, which I believe can only be a good thing. Millennials are in fact less likely than their parents to take drugs and have been found to mature earlier and show more responsibility in many aspects of their lives but these findings are rarely if ever highlighted. They have been most affected by the economic crisis and will have to work harder than the previous generation to achieve the same rewards. This is not to say that there aren’t any aspects of millennial culture that are problematic but the way in which this conversation is often framed is problematic and biased.

 

What benefits most attract you to a new position?

Company culture is one of the most important aspects. Perks are great and they can make you feel valued, but in the end that appreciation needs to be honest. As a consultant I have experienced several different work environments and providing benefits such as parties or bonuses don’t make nearly as much of an impact as having a good support system and a management that truly cares about your career development and your personal wellbeing.

 

In the long term which of the following is most important to you? (Please explain why?)

  • Career development
  • Work/ life balance
  • Salary

Work/ life balance. It is great to work in a field that I find so rewarding. I spend a lot of my free time after work and on weekends going to events about analytics and spending time with my colleagues, who are a group of amazingly talented and lovely people. I don’t believe that working long hours necessarily translates to more productivity and have seen work cultures that have been very worrying in that aspect. In the end, no matter how fulfilling a job may be it is still a job and there should always be time for other things.

 

What do you think most companies are getting wrong when hiring/ retaining younger workers?

I’m not sure there really is a problem in the retention of young workers. The working world has changed and while it used to be typical for someone to start a job and stay in it many years, if not a lifetime, it is much more common today for people to switch to new roles and companies. I don’t know what the research says about this, but I believe that people can get very bored and stuck if they are in a role too long and that innovation is a desired and necessary aspect for every organisation. This is best driven by bringing in people with different backgrounds, who can challenge the existing norms with new approaches. To retain young people in a role they need to feel appreciated and recognised for their contribution. They need to feel like the contributions they are making are taken seriously. Personally, I find very hierarchical organisations difficult and believe they stifle creativity and innovation.

I also believe that hiring practices are outdated. CVs and interviews don’t show you how well someone will do at a job. In many cases neither will knowledge of a degree subject. It is more important to find people who are passionate, flexible and willing to learn.

 

Looking back, is there anything you’d change about the route you took to your current career?

I went through a series of jobs before finding my current role as an analyst with the Information Lab and I am very glad about this process even though many of the jobs I had were very difficult and did not make me happy. Every job that I have worked has taught me new skills as well as informing me about what I need from a company culture to do good work and be happy. These are really valuable things to know about yourself. The learning curve in each job is very steep so I picked up a lot of things from short contracts that then helped me into my new roles. Through the data school I now have expertise in some very specific skills that I can add to this broad set of experiences. I think that is a great combination that I wouldn’t have achieved if I had gone straight from university to The Information Lab.

While some have questioned my route from psychology into data analytics I am really glad that I took that path. My coding skills are far behind those of many analysts but psychology taught me to think analytically and I have found that my different outlook on things that has been driven through my studies has been really beneficial in many situations. Those soft skills are harder to teach than the technical ones. Again, the diversity of backgrounds at the data school has been such an asset because we can add different things to the solution of a problem and this leads to great results.  

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