Millennials talk careers: Carla Lawrence

Do the stereotypes about Millennials stack up?

[image_library_tag 851e3b02-e065-4159-b67d-5763f3b8c969 158x199 alt="23-09-2017-carla-lawrence" title="23-09-2017-carla-lawrence - " width="158" height="199"class="left "]Name: Carla Lawrence

Age: 25

Education: Master’s in Computer Science and Mathematics, University of York

Current role: Graduate Software Testing Engineer, BJSS

Ideal role: Non-Functional Testing Engineer

 

Are the stereotypes about millennials true?

One of the biggest stereotypes of millennials is that we have a bloated sense of entitlement. I think this is an unfair assessment. Today’s university system pumps out tens of thousands of fresh graduates every year - more than they ever have before – and many of these graduates will have funded their qualifications by themselves. With the job market being so crowded, and because there are financial incentives to succeed, starting and building a career has become highly competitive. Given the stakes, we have a drive and focus that is often misinterpreted as a sense of entitlement.

 

What benefits most attract you to a new position?

I’m at the very early stage of my career, so while nice, things like money and a generous pot of benefits really don’t drive me. I want to feel valued at this early stage and I want to be contributing to my team, so I ask myself if the organisation trusts me, if it relies on me as I rely on it, and if I enjoy my job.

 

In the long term which of the following is most important to you?

I love to learn and to be challenged, so career development and work/life balance are equally as important to me. This might sound strange, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it impossible for the two to co-exist, but they do.

In my case, I have a healthy non-work lifestyle, but I also relish the odd time where we stay late in the office to deliver a deadline. I find that being in the loop is the best way to learn skills and develop myself, and I thrive on the pressure of a ticking clock and the comradery of my team. I learn things during these episodes and I find that they’re far more social and more enjoyable than sitting on the sofa binging on Netflix.

 

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

I’m lucky because the company I work for has a great Graduate Programme and it understands the importance of personal development. Unfortunately, many other companies aren’t quite as progressive. They tend to see their graduates as cheap resources to tackle routine and less taxing work.

The fact is that having spent their whole life learning, fresh graduates are conditioned to learn. Companies that fail to expose these young people to learning and developmental opportunities simply breed frustration, so they’ll spend a year building up their CV before looking for other opportunities, often outside of their current organisation.

 

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

I decided to gain some professional experience while I was at university, so I secured a second-year software development and testing placement, and then a temporary graduate role in software testing during my Masters year.

These placement and temporary roles are a great way to give yourself an edge over your peers. They also provide a ‘warts and all’ insight into the role that you hope to fill one day.

For example, in my temporary role I discovered that while I has always seen myself as a software developer, I really had a passion for software testing. I just wish that this awakening took place in my placement year, allowing me time to tweak my university courses to better align to this.