Employee engagement for millennials takes constant motivation, feedback and training.
Sudakshina Ghosh, team manager at SAP India in Gurugram, is happy with her 12-year-old job. The 39-year-old has been with the company since 2006. She has worked on assignments that range from sales and customer account management to building customer relationships, sales strategies and go-to-market strategies. “To deliver my best, I have to be engaged and encouraged,” says Ghosh. She credits SAP’s numerous programmes for professional development with ensuring she grows personally and professionally.
Working abroad broadens your mind. A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions, the saying goes. It’s no wonder, then, that working abroad, in a foreign country can be an incredible career experience.
According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review in May, living abroad increases self-concept clarity (your mental picture of who you are as a person), and thereby promotes clearer career decision making.
Working abroad makes you question
“When people live in their home country, they are often surrounded by others who mostly behave in similar ways so they are not compelled to question whether their own behaviours reflect their core values or the values of the culture which they are embedded in,” says Jackson G. Lu, professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, and one of the authors of the study. This changes when you live abroad, since exposure to newer values and beliefs forces you to re-examine yours.
A midlife career switch can be a good idea—but be prepared for challenges along the way. In 2014, over a beer, childhood friends Kamal Karanth and Anil Kumar Ethanur decided to quit their high-paying jobs as managing directors of competing international staffing firms and start a business together.
“We never imagined we would start our own company,” says 45-year-old Ethanur, “but I saw entrepreneurship as the ultimate challenge and wanted to give it a shot.” Karanth felt his career was stagnating and wanted to tap into the fast-growing staffing industry, pegged to grow to a $20 billion (around ₹1.3 trillion) market in India. “We weren’t making any difference to our clients beyond filling their recruitment needs,” says 46-year-old Karanth.
Working with drones is still not a career for most. Take Bhavesh Sangani for example. While studying at an engineering college in Tumkur, Karnataka, in 2009, Bhavesh Sangani bought a small toy: a remote-controlled helicopter. Before he started flying it, he tied it with a thread, just like a kite, scared it might land somewhere else. Something worse happened—the flight crashed and the toy was wrecked.
Drones is cutting-edge tech
What remained with Sangani, however, was the desire to fly something with a remote control. The same year, he started a club in college that made DIY remote-controlled flights or drones. “By the time I graduated in 2011, we had built 36 remote-controlled electrical planes, all self-taught through the internet,” says the 28-year-old. The hobby helped Sangani land a job as an engineer with Quest Global, an engineering services company based in Bengaluru, straight out of college.
In 2012, when Sachin Gupta graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee with a job offer from Google India, he faced a conundrum. He and his college mate, Vivek Prakash, had been building a software system, HackerEarth, for engineer recruitment. They had an offer from GSF Accelerator, a Bengaluru seed-funder for technology start-ups.
It came with a caveat: GSF wanted the two in Bengaluru, working full-time on the start-up, if they were to get the initial money. “That was our first challenge,” recalls Gupta. “If we wanted to do this start-up, and we so did, Vivek had to miss a semester in his degree while I had to leave my job.” Prakash wanted to get his degree.
Being a trailing spouse can be stressful as you quit your job to follow your partner’s career. However, with perseverance it can work.
When Saba Menezes, 32, decided to marry her childhood sweetheart Richard, a petroleum engineer with Shell, they knew one of them would have to give up their career.
Menezes, a Delhi-based litigation lawyer, had been unhappy with her job, and decided she would take a break. After marriage in 2013, the couple moved to Rio de Janeiro; by 2015, just as she was becoming proficient in Portuguese, Richard took up a job in Brunei. “Even though I knew this was going to happen, it took me time to accept that law as a career option for me was over as we are going to keep moving,” she says.
According to a September 2017 study released by InterNations, an international community of expatriates, only 45% of the spouses who move with their partners to a new country end up finding work. More than 80% of the spouses are women. Work permits, education degrees, language, or the career itself are some of the challenges these trailing or travelling spouses, as they are known in business parlance, come up against.
Online learning is the new way millennials are educating themselves. When Lucky Gautam decided to take the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) during his final year as a BTech student at Amity University in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, he was worried about the stiff competition he would face from students of India’s premier engineering institutions.
On a friend’s suggestion, he signed up with the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), an online platform that offers free courses (but charges a minimal fee for an exam for certification), to brush up on topics like analogue circuits and the principles of signals and systems.
Online learning has become the norm
A government-funded initiative by seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), NPTEL helped Gautam earn an all-India rank of 58 in GATE and a job offer from Indian Oil Corporation. “Sometimes books and a library just aren’t enough. With this platform, I could learn from the country’s top faculty at my own pace,” says the 25-year-old.
Other than providing high-quality content in high-demand fields, online courses are affordable and flexible, and therefore easier to access.
Cognitive computing, automation and globalization are impacting the nature of jobs and the skills required. One needs to be a lifelong learner to stay relevant. “We can’t afford to stop learning and still expect to grow in our careers. Online platforms are the most accessible for this purpose,” says Raghav Gupta, director for the India and Asia-Pacific region, Coursera.
The formulaic framework of online courses or webinars can be a millennial’s best friend. “Millennials have an intrinsic trust and connect with technological tools and advances, adapting to new technology rapidly,” says Andrew Thangaraj, professor, electrical engineering department, IIT, Madras, and NPTEL coordinator .
There was a time when Sriram Rajamani’s 1-hour, 30-minute commute to work from north Bengaluru to the centre of the city felt like a complete waste of time. Today, multi-screen devices help him use the time advantageously. “While my driver braves the traffic, I work on my laptop with a tethered connection via my phone and use it to answer emails, schedule the day’s meetings and get work done,” says Rajamani, managing director, Microsoft Research India Lab.
With the emergence of new technologies, we are all becoming multi-screen creatures, moving from one device or screen to another for all sorts of activities in a typical day. Multi-screen behaviour has become the norm, according to a 2012 consumer insight study by Think With Google, Google’s research arm on data insights. The study suggests there are two main modes of multi-screening—sequential screening, with people moving between devices, and simultaneous screening, with them using multiple devices simultaneously.
What makes some online games so addictive that players are willing to harm themselves, even attempt suicide?
The Aerosol Challenge, a 2014 game, involved teenagers spraying themselves with deodorant at a distance of just a few inches from their skin, to see who could endure the pain the longest. It left some children with horrific burns.
In the Pass-out Challenge, young adults would choke themselves to the point of passing out in an attempt to reach an euphoric high—recording it all to post on social media.
The Fire Challenge saw people spraying themselves with flammable liquid and then setting it aflame, all for an online laugh. Neknominate had them drinking increasingly potent combinations of alcohol—this too led to some deaths. The Blue Whale game, the latest, sets tasks over a 50-day period, the last of which is jumping off a high-rise.
During Roman times, gladiatorial shows were a show of strength and violence. The Middle Ages turned execution into spectacle. Now, it’s online games like Blue Whale, says Shubha Madhusudhan, clinical psychologist, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru. “We have always had narcissistic personalities, sadists and psychopathic deviants in our society,” she says. The internet has just made it easier for all of them to connect with the vulnerable.