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The original reason I joined PRSA way back in the early 90’s somewhere — and one of the chief benefits I still get out of being a member — is the ability to guage my own abilities and insights against those of my colleagues across the country.  Now that I’m passing on what I know to people interested in exploring public relations as a career, that benefit is more valuable than ever.  Listening to Edelman Public Relations President & CEO Matt Harrington in New York last week confirmed even more.  The young generation now graduating from college is bright, full of self-confidence, educated, definitely not shy.  However, they have unrealistic expectations of the work world, and don’t completely understand the work ethic needed in today’s marketplace – particularly in a time when everyone is being asked to do more with less.  Early in your career is normally when you learn to do more with less; you learn to do whatever it takes to establish a foothold out there.  Later in your career is when you can work a lot smarter, and thus a lot faster; and when you don’t have to start everything from scratch because somewhere in years past, you’ve encountered this problem before.  It’s lovely to reach that point in your career where you recognize the problem confronting you as well as what avenues are available for resolving that problem.  But how disillusioning it would be to assume you didn’t have to gain that hard-won experience early in your career; to think that life as a young professional would be easier than it really is.  What a letdown, if you’ve been highly praised growing up and now must face the prospect of closed doors in the business world.  Far better to be taught to expect less and to work hard, understanding that given a certain skill level (study hard, everyone), attitude makes all the difference. 

For those of us Baby Boomers who may be hiring this newly graduated generation, perhaps a further on-site training course is needed in the work ethic we expect.  At the same time, the X, Y, and Millenial generations can be teaching us more about social media and where it’s headed.   It gets tougher to adapt to change as we grow older, but it’s imperative that we stay open and flexible if we are to show the way into a profession we love.  By the same token, it’s tough for the younger generations to get started, particularly in this economy; they need some specific instructions and expectations set down before them so that they’ll understand they’re now moving into a world very different from the one they’re leaving behind.  Everybody can get there; and it will benefit all of us.

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