It’s been a year since I graduated from college, and this year there are 3.4 million Millennials from the Class of 2012 entering the workforce. This digital-age group of aspiring young professionals is utilizing all of the latest and innovative Web 2.0 resources to facilitate their transition into the working world. Furthermore, there are millions of Millennials that have already been working and are using the same resources to learn more in their current position and to discover future career opportunities.
The learning style of a Millennial is self-paced and highly collaborative. Millennials want to explore information on their own and then share with peers. We want access to information in a just-for-me, just-in-time platform that produces gratifying results.
I know from my own experience, if a page doesn’t load quite fast enough or I can’t find what I need in a few seconds, I move on and search on a different site or use a different program. This approach has shaped the short attention span approach to browsing. We attack a problem with a specific task in mind and will keep clicking until they find the answer. So where are Millennials going to meet their learning challenges?
I start every search with a Google, Wikipedia, or YouTube search. Whether it’s a simple task or highly technical process, our strength lies in knowing how search engine optimization (SEO) works with Google and how to sort through sites to find the information we want quickly. Our previous college research resources such as E-books (EBSCO), E-journals (JSTOR), and E-newspapers (LEXIS/NEXIS) have taken a backseat to the power of the Internet. While those sites provide valuable and highly reliable information, they aren’t as practical as a simple Google search or YouTube “how to” video, especially for the processes and procedures necessary in the modern workplace.
Millennials want finding information to be an intuitive and on demand process that produces quick results. Video producers are now developing shorter videos at an average length time of 4.3 minutes. The “how to” approach in the YouTube videos is far more advantageous for a millennial than having to sit through a supervisor lecture for an hour. For example, I recently looked up a five minute YouTube video on how to use the new features on Apple’s latest operating system, Mountain Lion. The multi-tasking characteristic of Millennials enables us to use our mastery of the web and learn more in a self-paced environment.
I work in a high performing environment with a geographically distributed workforce in which my supervisor and mentor, Michael Rochelle, and I work collaboratively using web conferencing tools and file sharing tools such as Dropbox. Michael has trained me to use Brandon Hall Group’s research database as well as the best practices for finding relevant and superior research information on the web. However, the techniques I listed above also enhance my learning on a day-to-day basis. If I cannot find a quick answer, I do not hesitate to get in touch with someone in my company who can assist me. In either case, I evaluate learning on a time efficiency and quality basis. For example, if it is a simple PowerPoint or Excel question, I will go straight to a Google search. However, if the issue has to do with learning a new tool such as Salesforce, I will seek assistance from someone in my company. There will always be occasions in which the simple Google search or YouTube video is not enough and one-on-one mentoring is invaluable.
As a Millennial, searching for information is second nature to me, and I bring those search skills with me to my workplace experience. As organizations are developing training for their learners, the need to keep in mind the strengths of the Millennials in finding the training that’s right for them, as they need that information.
 InformationWeek, April 30, 2010. http://www.informationweek.com/news/software.soa_webservices/224700326