This summer, 52 bright and energetic young adults got a taste of corporate America interning at Konica Minolta offices around the country.
Their roles were varied: sales, marketing, customer service, systems engineering and IT. All came ready to work, rolling up their sleeves and jumping right in to their respective departments. We believe the internship program was a huge success, not just for the students who got to experience various aspects of our company and corporate life, but also for us.
After all, these interns, all in their early 20s, are our future. Not just our future workforce but also our future customers. They already wield tremendous buying power and they do it digitally. They are unafraid of technology and unfamiliar with a world before online shopping. They have never known a world without the internet, without computers and cell phones. They are digital natives.
In a study conducted by social networking site myYearbook, 81 percent of online shoppers get purchasing advice from friends and followers via social media and 74 percent follow that advice. Having them in our offices, especially in roles in Sales & Marketing and IT, gives us a glimpse into that future and an in-house classroom to pick their brains. What appeals to them? It isn’t the same marketing strategies that appeal to their parents. We now live in a world of multichannel communication, instantaneous feedback and an expectation of exceptional service. Our business is in a constant state of evolution to ensure our sales and marketing strategies align with the fast-moving expectations of our customers. Our interns provided a fresh view into that process.
Having them here also gives us a glimpse into the employee of tomorrow. According to a study by the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, millennials will comprise 46 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020. That means that almost half of the people holding a job will be under age 40. These millennials interact with each other in a much-different fashion than those of us over 40. They want immediacy. They want collaboration. They want openness. They have no fear of texting the boss or asking why processes are the way they are. They will make us question long-held beliefs and brainstorm creative solutions.
The Interns we had over the summer worked hard, but, most importantly, were contributing parts of our team. They were involved in all aspect of our business and showed good business instincts. In short, we have seen the future, and it is Millennial.
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