What Does it Mean to be a Young Professional?

Theresia Kody - Business Services Representative ·

I have been part of many conversations recently about young professionals: being a young professional, how to attract young professionals to specific employers, what do young professionals want in a position, etc. A common theme I heard in each of these conversations was the varying definition, view, and expectations of a young professional. I found it interesting that this term is used so frequently in the workforce, yet is shaped by perspective, which is then key to understanding someone’s view. From here, I turned to a few college seniors to hear their perspectives and asked them to refrain from using the internet.

Lindsey, an Industrial Engineer major at the University of Pittsburgh, stated that when she hears the phrase “young professional,” she thinks of a college undergrad, a recent graduate who is doing a co-op or internship, or someone just entering the workforce. When asked how she would define a young professional, Lindsey said, “A person who is new to the professional world and is looking for an opportunity to gain experience.” Brandon, a Sports Marketing major at Saint Joseph’s University, responded with a very similar response: “I would define it as either someone in their early 20s who has just entered the workforce, or just as a general term for people in their early to mid-20s who are a part of the workforce.” Lindsey went on to share, “I go to the University of Pittsburgh and many of my friends and classmates have professional experience such as co-ops and internships, which only enhances your resume. Being a young professional teaches you things you would not normally learn in the classroom. I expect to be treated with respect and like an adult.”

I asked, “As seniors about to embark into the workplace, what do you feel employers are looking for or expect from young professionals and what attributes or skills should employers look for in young professional hires?” Brandon incorporated conversations he’s had and said, “I’ve heard just about everything in terms of what employers are looking for. A cousin of mine told me that he once only hired the brightest and most qualified employees. He later learned that while these attributes are important, he also overlooked abilities such as how well can these new employees work and communicate with other people.” Lindsey believes employers are looking for young professionals who are excited to learn, act mature and professionally, and can be given tasks and excel in them; she also stated, “I think it is important to be enthusiastic, a great communicator, reliable, driven, and organized.” Lindsey was intrigued to look into the topic further: “I think it is important that employers clearly lay out what they expect from their employees. If I do not know what an employer expects from me, I would think the company doesn’t know why they need me as an employee.”

There are similarities between Brandon and Lindsey’s responses, with both having expectations of the employer. Lindsey and Brandon expect employers to be clear on learning goals for young professionals to make an easier transition into the workforce. This is the millennial generation, the ones who can have answers with the click of the button who we need to ensure are trained yet challenged.

Thank you to Brandon, a leader for SJU’s alternative spring break program, and Lindsey, a Thermo Fisher Scientific intern, for sharing their perspectives on this topic! I would welcome continued discussions on the topic at tkody@edsisolutions.com.