Millennials talk careers: Luke Hill
Human Resources

Millennials talk careers: Luke Hill

01-07-2017-luke-hillName: Luke Hill

Age: 26

Education: BSc (Hons)

Current role: Platform Developer at tombola

Ideal role: Lead Developer

 

Are the stereotypes about millennials true?

On one hand stereotypes might exist because you notice similarities and connections between groups of people. On the other hand, if you throw one stereotype at thousands of people eventually you’ll find one instance where it’s true. Ultimately, I don’t care and I don’t buy in to them. I’ll happily buy into data. But not general sweeping statements.

I was given a list of stereotypes. I’m lazy, check. I’m cynical, check, I love technology, check. Guess that makes me a millennial. I guess we’re just “the worst generation yet” because “Millennials won’t settle for a mediocre career; they want to find their passion” – Doesn’t everyone? You won’t and you can’t make me feel bad for trying to better myself.

We grew up in, arguably, a time where technological advancement is unparalleled. To the point where it’s heavily changed the world we live in. Other generations merely adopted technology. We were born in it, moulded by it. It’s not a disadvantage and it’s not something to fear. The internet isn’t a detriment to us or society. A lack of understanding, however, is probably what causes these stereotypes in the first place.

I don’t really know where these statements come from. Apparently, we want a trophy for showing up. I’d rather not show up. Participation trophies are patronising but here’s the thing; they weren’t my generation’s idea. We were kids, the adults decided that. Is that where these statements have come from? The older generations? Someone’s definitely putting words in my mouth because there’s no way you’re going to catch me saying I have “no reverence for elders” or that I “have little time for experienced colleagues”.

I don’t think stereotypes are true. I think that as time has gone on the world has changed. The way I live my twenties now is very different to how someone would live their twenties 30 years ago. I’m making the best of what I’ve got. Unfortunately, I’m single and I can’t afford to buy a house because they’re so expensive. Does that make me the downfall of the economy or does the blame fall on those that let this situation happen in the first place?

 

What benefits most attract you to a new position?

I’ve always said to my family growing up “I’ll never work a job that I don’t enjoy”. Once I had a job working in a small office of a warehouse processing online eBay orders and taking in customer calls. It was minimum wage but I lived with my parents and they didn’t want any cut so in terms of disposable income I had it pretty well. But I hated that job, it made me depressed so I quit. Assuming you get 8 hours of sleep a night that’s 40 out of 112 hours of your waking week you spend working. I’m not about to waste that much time being unhappy.

I’ve had two jobs in my career as a developer since then. Both times the main benefit was not being on the dole. It’s naive to say salary isn’t important but it’s by no means the most important. Job #1 was a low paid start-up. I worked frequent 14-16 hour days but I enjoyed the work that I did and the people I did it with. We worked with cool technologies for a range of clients. Unfortunately, the company didn’t make it. Job #2 is where I am currently. Now I work 8 hour days. I’m paid more and there’s a whole range of benefits including private healthcare, free breakfast & lunch at the café, quarterly bonus and subsidised public transport costs. That’s awesome and I’m very grateful but if the work was boring or I didn’t have the ability to progress my career in some manner then I’d be out of here.

Both these jobs are very different. But the main thing is that I worked with the companies. They were invested in me. In turn I was invested in giving them my best. It’s almost like a symbiotic relationship. That’s what attracts me to a position and that’s what keeps me there. At the interview stage it’s important to me to figure out whether that level of working relationship is possible. I’m not just another employee ID number.

In between these jobs I interviewed at a gaming company dealing with some big name brands like DC Comics (Think Superman and Batman). They wanted me to work in a dingy, cramped office with no natural light. They wanted me to perform a specialised job for basically minimum wage. That’s not even respect. That’s exploitation and I’m not having any of that.

 

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

  • Career development
  • Work/ life balance
  • Salary

Long term? Probably career development. One exciting thing about being a developer is that no two days are ever the same. We’re always solving new, different problems. Career development lends itself to something similar. I just don’t want to get bored doing what I do for a living.

A work/life balance is important, for sure, and it’s not as if you’d disregard that entirely. If I went back to working 14+ hour days, then you can bet I’d try for something elsewhere.

Career development to me means that you’re more experienced with what you do. You become more desirable to other companies because you can fill their needs and you become desirable to more companies because your wealth of experience allows you to branch out. If I wanted to move cities - or even countries - then it would be much easier if I were a seasoned developer than a junior one. That gives you freedom of choice to live your life. In an age where technology is rampantly evolving and the world is connected like never before that level of freedom is invaluable. The goal of my life isn’t to work but work is a requirement in order for me to live. So why not be good at what you do for a living in order to experience great things?

Besides, I’ve always wanted to lead my own team. A lot of my previous experience has led into that goal one way or another. Career development is pivotal to that goal. No-one in their right mind is going to give me that responsibility without them having confidence in me.

 

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

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that there’s a mismatch between what a company expects to get out of an employee and what the employee wants to get out of the company. I don’t think this is specific to younger workers but it’s definitely easier to see. When you’re employed you are brought on to fill a specific role on the understanding that your current skill set meets the need of that role. When you’re young your skill set isn’t as advanced. You don’t have 10 years’ worth of experience. You might not have any. Basically you’re brought in, paid little and are expected to do all the tasks no-one else wants to do.

This is great for the company but not for worker. We want to learn. There’s little incentive to stay if there’s a lack of progression. This could be knowledge, ability or pay. This is what I think causes job hopping. Staying with the same company for 3 years is no good if all you’ve really got out of it is the same one year of experience repeated 3 times. I don’t think it’s unfair to expect to be able grow in your career and to grow in the company. It’s sad, but that’s not always possible. The work might never change. There may not be room to expand the scope of an employee’s responsibility. But that’s how you lose staff fast.

I’ve been fortunate. I have a good job with a good company. I started as a Junior Web Developer and now I’m a Platform Developer. My pay has gone up several times, I’ve managed to work with various teams, I’ve played a significant part in the delivery of interesting and complex projects. I’ve improved tenfold in the work we’ve undertaken. I’ve been given training opportunities and attended conferences funded by work. All this in just under 2 ½ years. Guess what!? I’m treated very well and I have no plans to leave.

 

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

I took a pretty standard route to my career. GCSEs, A Levels, Bachelor’s Degree and job. Today there’s a good spread of opportunity that leads into programming. You’ve got apprenticeships, BTECs, self-teaching, and more. Looking at those and looking back now I think I made a good decision in terms of the pathway I chose. University life was so much more than building the skills I need to succeed in my career – it was a lifestyle choice and three years I’d never take back.

That said, degree in hand, there wasn’t that confidence to say “You can do this”. Probably because there’s quite a bit of distance between academic learning and working an actual job that you don’t get with other methods like apprenticeships. After sticking it through and spending a good few years of my life as a developer it seems silly now – but it’s easy to see doubt when you’re first starting out.

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