Blind Leading The Blind

Woman Holding Hands over EyesI am a young PR professional and while no longer entry level, I am by no means seasoned either. I joined the social media world to learn more about my career and the industry. I’ve had the opportunity to meet great people along the way, mostly beginners but also some veterans, both of which have taught me more than I ever learned in school. I’ve participated in the many PR chats that our community moderates like #pr20chat, #prstudchat, #u30pro, and #journchat. I always walk away learning something new. But recently I’ve noticed more of my peers giving advice on issues that aren’t so black and white and it’s frequently in instances where they don’t have enough experience to back it up. My generation gets a bad reputation for being “entitled” and it’s because we feel we know everything. Well we don’t. My name is Christina, I’m in my mid twenties and proud to say I don’t know everything and hope I never do.

There are pros and cons to this “know-it-all” mentality. Shocking, I know. As I talk with professionals across a wide spectrum of careers, they always compliment our motivation to be the best. We soak up information like a sponge. We are confident in our opinions and give advice on all topics, even when they’re not so relevant. In this community we help each other by discussing our experiences. We compare those experiences with ours and decide what to do next.  I mentor several students/interns, which includes helping them in their job search.  I edit resumes, discuss what I did to get to where I am today, and what I would have done differently. I rely on knowledge I previously learned from my seasoned mentors to my current mentees. Yet at the same time, I encourage my mentees to be creative and do what they feel will work for them. I don’t have all the answers, I only have experiences.

Millennials need to take the same approach in the work place. My biggest pet peeve is witnessing an argument between a Millennial and a seasoned professional because the Millennial doesn’t understand why the seasoned professional is stuck in a traditional world. We’ve all been there. We just can’t get frustrated. Do I think young professionals can teach seasoned pros something new? Absolutely. But a major con to this “know-it-all” mentality is how stubborn we are. Yes, there is a need for reform, especially in PR, but it’s not going to happen over night. Do I get frustrated with industry professionals who are dead set on old traditions? Yes. But remember they’re successful because of their knowledge and have learned from many years of experience. That’s why when I want to discuss campaign strategies, I’d rather go to a veteran professional. By doing so we’ll combine new ideas with a solid business model.

As a generation, we are stubborn. We believe our way will be, or is, the right way. It’s not. So next time you start dishing advice to senior level executives and you’re getting frustrated because they won’t see why your way is better, stop. Listen to what they’re saying. Chances are you’ll learn something new. If not, aren’t we just the blind leading the blind?

(Note: Also check out “Dear Millenials: Your Parents Lied To You” byBill Sledzik, PR educator at Kent State University, and Open Letter to Millennials by Todd Defren, principal at SHIFT Communications.)

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