Above photo left to right: Nariana Sands, Alicia Morgan, Nicole Brandon, Olivia Asenime, SMU Student.
There is much discussion about connecting with millennials and the willingness of women to listen and empower each other across generations. I have had the opportunity of working with some extraordinary millennials. Last year, I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel of engineering professionals at SMU through the invitations of Nariana Sands, President of the National Society of Black Engineers and Olivia Asenime, President of the Texas Society of Engineering Professionals. The ladies are students at the university and through exceptional coordination; the diverse panel includes entry level, mid year and senior executives. After the panel discussion, the ladies tell me that if I ever want the opportunity to come back and present at the University I have the support of both organizations again. On March 2nd, I accept this offer and present with my college engineering friend Nicole Brandon, “FULL STEAM Ahead: Creative Problem Solving for New Engineers.” It is the perfect way to begin Women’s History Month through empowering younger generations of college students for successful careers in engineering fields.
Here are some ways that I have found are great to begin the conversation of connecting with Millennial Women:
The desire to be heard is a mutual feeling for women
Thumbs up to Plaid for Women for not only their #NoMeanGirlsCampaign but also this years #BeHeard platform. It is true that every woman has something important to say. In the early stages of my career, I was not a strong advocate for myself and in performance reviews; I left it to the discretion of my manager to know all of my accomplishments during the year. I did not speak up and as a result found myself dissatisfied in my career and having to make some major changes to successfully advance into leadership roles. I begin to discover over time that the pain point of not knowing how to advocate for yourself is common for millennial women as well. Sharing these creative problem solving techniques and ways to bounce back from career challenges this workshop empowers millennials to succeed against all odds.
Keeping an open mind
The more things change the more some things remain the same. Every generation brings a fresh perspective on how to accomplish something. However, it is equally important to also recognize that some things about life in general remain the same. Wherever having a conversation with someone younger or older than you keep an open mind you can always learn something you have not thought of before. It is important to approach speaking from experience from a tone of empowering instead of belittling someone who does not know what you know.
Encourage diversity of thought
Technology and the access to information twenty-four hours a day means that there is not a shortage of opinions in the world. No two people or team of people will have exactly the same viewpoint on something at all times. There is beauty in diversity and finding solutions in these situations is where the strength to make a difference happens. It is time to embrace young people who are millennials while teaching that diversity is not a bad thing. Women in particular must recognize that every woman is different and does not have to meet any one standard of beauty or excellence.
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. “
Overall, listen with the intent to understand when connecting with millennial women after all together collective problem solving reaches a broader audience.