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Podcast: Millennials at Work


In this episode, Susan hands the microphone over to Patricia Diaz to lead the interview. More than 10 years ago Susan contributed to a book titled Millennial Leaders, by Bean Fields, Scott Wilder, Jim Bunch and Rob Newbold. Patricia leads the discussion about Millennials and business networking, belonging to professional associations, badges and mentors.

Listen to the full interview here:


Susan Manning:                   Welcome to the Credly podcast where we touch base with our issuers, earners, and partners, and explore themes of interest in digital credentialing. I'm Susan Manning.

Today I'm talking with, well, kind of myself. I'm actually going to turn the microphone over to my colleague Patricia Diaz. Patricia is the demand generation marketing manager, and Patricia and I often talk about the people who are earning badges, and sometimes we also discuss various generations, age groups. I forgot, until I was recently cleaning out my professional library, that in 2008 I contributed to a book called Millennial Leaders. And so, I had done some research on millennials specifically, and we thought it would be fun for Patricia to see if this information is still relevant, how predictive were we, and to go from there.

So, Patricia please take the microphone.

Patricia Diaz:                         I will. Thanks Susan. That was a great intro.

You've done a lot of research and writing about the value of digital credentials to an older generation, and I have done a lot of research and writing about the impact of digital credentials on millennials. And I think it's really interesting that you gave an interview a decade ago, right? It was 2007. It was a while ago. And I would love to hear a little bit about the dynamic of what has changed, other than your reference to Gen Y and now we're calling them millennials. But what has changed, especially, where technology is concerned? Could you have predicted this 10 years ago? How do you think technology has changed in that?

Susan Manning:                   Well, it is surprising that I even thought that I could label that generation 10 years ago, because already I was feeling the influence of things accelerating, and I wouldn't have predicted where we are today.

Patricia Diaz:                         Accelerating how? What do you mean?

Susan Manning:                   In terms of the rate of change of everything. Look at our day to day lives how we bank, how we access information, the tools that we use to communicate I wouldn't have predicted all of the changes that came to be. As you said, this was 2007, and Snapchat and Instagram were not even available until 2010/2011. YouTube was only a couple years old, and it certainly wasn't used for original content, and reality programming, or anything like that.

Patricia Diaz:                         So, you mentioned in the interview actually about Facebook, and I think that's a sign of the times. How do you think that social networking has impacted how millennials get jobs, and communicate with their peers?

Susan Manning:                   It's interesting. Just the other day one of my daughters, who is a millennial, was commenting on the fact that she knew somebody who just put a post out there on Snapchat to a group about her employer hiring, and all of a sudden people jumped on it. So, I think they're using the tools to network in a less publicly visible manner than we might expect. And, of course, no millennial really uses Facebook for that purpose.

Patricia Diaz:                         Unless you're an older millennial like myself.

Susan Manning:                   Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Patricia Diaz:                         But that's interesting. You made a comment in your original interview about how you predicted that millennials are going to be using social networking to keep their circles tight. Do you think that's still true?

Susan Manning:                   Oh, absolutely. Yes. Look at tools like Snapchat or Instagram and how you can create very, very small subgroups, and I think this age has learned to be a little wary in terms of who they can trust and who they can't.

Patricia Diaz:                         Do you think that's going to hinder or help a future job search?

Susan Manning:                   I don't know that it's going to hurt a future job search if they use business networking appropriately in their small groups, but I think that a millennial needs to also know how to communicate more broadly than just their small circle of friends.

Patricia Diaz:                         Oh, that's interesting. That's a great tie in to possibly joining an association.

Susan Manning:                   Yes.

Patricia Diaz:                         The trend tends to be that millennials are not joining an association with the intent of going to in person meetings, because they can network online. Do you think there's a benefit to millennials being able to go and join an association?

Susan Manning:                   Without a doubt. To muddy the waters a little further, or to add a little more ink to the glass, there's a lot of research that shows that millennials benefit from mentoring, and they appreciate that. They're open to learning what it takes to succeed in their career. Yes, they may come with high expectations in the beginning, but if they take to mentoring, and the mentor can guide them to the professional association I think they're more likely to get there so that they can do that in person networking, and begin to develop the relationships that will be very important as they progress in their career.

Patricia Diaz:                         That's really interesting. You made a point in your original article about talking to millennials peer to peer. Do you think that mentoring is beneficial between demographic groups?

Susan Manning:                   It is. When you can have a conversation with someone who has experience, but they don't necessarily have power over you, so you both want to succeed. There is that generativity that a more seasoned professional wants to pass on to people new in the industry, and the newcomers are not really threatened by that if they're looking for that kind of mutually beneficial relationship.

Patricia Diaz:                         How would you recommend that somebody find a mentor?

Susan Manning:                   As corny as this sounds, if you work in a physical office you have a face to face kind of job, I think it's a matter of paying attention to who's working around you, who's been there for a while, and seems to be successful, and approaching that person in a more casual friendly manner. Like it could be in the lunchroom, literally, or it could be observing that, that person always comes in with a certain kind of coffee striking up a conversation like that, and asking, "Can I talk to you about your time at this company, and what you would recommend career wise?" But that can be kind of scary for young people, and also for very introverted people to approach in that way.

Patricia Diaz:                         Do you have any tips from the mentoree, and how to reciprocate that time and commitment from a mentor?

Susan Manning:                   Saying thank you, as simple as that sounds, is highly motivating. We all want to know that we're contributing something of value, and so just having the simple, "I appreciate that you're providing leadership for me" is enough.

Patricia Diaz:                         That's really interesting. That's easy enough.

Susan Manning:                   Yeah.

Patricia Diaz:                         Susan do you think there is a difference between how millennials and an older generation would earn and share digital badges?

Susan Manning:                   Let me talk first a little bit about the sharing part. I think the common factor there would be whether either age needs to build a professional profile. That's where sharing comes in handy. If I'm an older worker and I'm looking to position myself as having a unique set of skills, or maybe I'm changing jobs I'm more likely to share. If I'm a younger worker and I'm acquiring badges that represent specific competencies and I'm looking to move up, or to move on I'm more likely to share.

So, I think we need to look in that regard for commonalities more than differences.

With respect to earning badges, I guess, we could assume that a younger earner might be closer to traditional institutions that award badges, but not necessarily. If the older worker is engaged with not for credit education, where badges may be plentiful.

Patricia Diaz:                         So, with hindsight being 11 years, and your original research was a while ago, do you think that you were wrong about anything?

Susan Manning:                   Well, I might have been wrong about the technology tools, because they're not using Facebook now. In general, as I reread the beginning of the book last night, I was shocked at how accurate we were. I think that's very telling. It's also really interesting to me to look at generational research in general. You have to look at that without stereotyping, because there are people in each age group that are going to defy the odds. But it is helpful to know, if we understand generations, we can work effectively with one another.

Patricia Diaz:                         That's great.

Well, from a personal note I very much appreciate your mentorship and your guidance.

Susan Manning:                   Well, thank you. That warms me.

Patricia Diaz:                         You're welcome.

Susan Manning:                   Thank you listeners for joining us. If you'd like to suggest upcoming topics feel free to write us at