February 12, 2020

Lessons learned from young professionals

This post was co-authored by Sharon Hull, Maureen Frazer-Monroe and Anna Marie Wood

Photo courtesy of Carolinas Credit Union League

We’d like to share with you a fantastic experience we had recently providing a career development workshop for young professionals.

The three of us (Sharon, Maureen and Anna) work together in a group called Metta Transformations as a team of trainers, coaches and professional development specialists, offering programs around topics we frequently encounter in our work.  Metta Transformations was invited to facilitate the Carolinas Credit Union League‘s first-ever Young Professionals Workshop at its LAUNCH 2020 event.

Our topic for the day was “Being the CEO of Your Own Career.”  We designed the program based on what young professionals in the credit union industry said they most wanted for their own professional development program.  The feedback we received has been incredibly positive. One of the most gratifying comments we got was (paraphrased), “You all invited us into the experience and didn’t talk down to us.  You came in and included us in the conversation and helped bring us up to the content.”  

The program provided opportunities for self-reflection and deep conversations around issues related to career planning in the context of the lives of young professionals.  We thought it important to share with you what the three of us learned from these dynamic, committed young professionals.  These lessons will shape our own work going forward:

  • Young professionals are hungry for mentoring and guidance that includes tools to help them take charge of their careers.
  • Both women and men struggle with work-life balance, particularly when they have young children.  They live with multiple competing demands and are looking for ways to manage them.  Family-friendly workplaces will have to take into account the unique demands that young professionals face if employers seek to retain them in the workplace.
  • Young professionals are motivated to learn and get better at what they do; they seek opportunity to improve themselves in a world that sometimes dismisses them on the basis of generational stereotypes that probably don’t fit them.
  • Many of us outside their age group harbor misconceptions about young professionals’ approaches to work, commitment and values.  We need to be open to hearing what they are saying and doing because they are smart and bright and they can teach us many things.
  • Both women and men in the audience commented frequently to us, both during and after the workshop, about how important it was for them to see strong professional women sharing their experiences, driving the conversation and leading the discussion.  They want such women as role models.
  • Organizations that invest in young professionals reap benefits from that investment, including a valuable sense of appreciation and loyalty from them toward the organization or employer.
  • Young professionals are driven by commitment to positive values in the workplace, and they want the opportunity to give back to their communities and those in need.

As we reminisced about the day, we were reminded that as leaders we must meet each person where they are in life and treat them as a whole human without any preconceived assumptions based on their age, experience or other stories we might tell ourselves.  Everyone has something to teach us.

One additional key learning for the three of us as presenters came from immersing ourselves in the philosophy behind the credit union movement (check out its history here).  We learned a lot about the philosophy of “people helping people,” and the ways in which credit unions give so much back to their communities.  We were incredibly moved by this, and by the way in which the young professionals in this movement are prepared to (and deeply want to) take up that mantle and continue the work.  We tip our collective hats to those who founded, grew and continue to support the important work that credit unions do in the world.  If you want to learn more, check out the information here.

We are grateful for the opportunity we had to provide this material and to learn with and from the young professionals we spoke with last month.  Next time you have a chance to talk with a young professional, take the time to engage in a conversation about what matters most to them.  We think you — and they — will learn something new from the experience!

Your take

Please share something you have learned from working with young professionals below.  Or, if you are a young professional yourself, what do those of us who are not so young most need to learn from you?  We’d love to hear from you.