Why I needed an 18 year old mentor

Posted by Karen

My friend’s daughter recently asked me to help with her first CV. I had expected to pass on a few words of wisdom and help her along her career path. Full stop. What actually  happened made me really think.

I am not exactly old (think 40 ish) but have a particular perspective on life, reflecting my generation, gender and how I live my life. Speaking for an hour to this young lady with her career ahead of her, and all her hopes, reminded me that I need to really understand a broader range of perspectives, particularly as a Communications professional.

So what have I learned so far from my 18 year old mentor?

New technologies appear every day.
There are more cool technologies to enhance communication than I knew about. My favourite is now Powtoon. This is an example I built the other day. And there’s a great piece of software for producing simple infographics called Piktochart. Clearly we shouldn’t jump on every bandwagon but where something can help us to achieve a communication and business outcome then we should investigate.

18 year olds are passionate about what they want out of life.
We’ve all read about how different generations have different expectations of life and work but it is only by sitting and talking to people that you can really understand the passion for this change. 18 year olds reflect on how their parents were often busy with work when they were young and how they want more for their children. Take a look at this video to hear some of my mentor’s thoughts.

I need to test my communication approaches.
We may think that 18 year olds want everything electronically, faster, with constant opportunities to contribute ideas. But I heard something else. There was a longing for physical communications – paper based for certain things. It is more novel and permanent. Of course, they expect online collaboration, instant information and opportunities for feedback but like some older generations who were swamped with paper, they are now swamped with electronic channels. Apps like Slack could really help to reduce the number of emails and instead create cross-team collaboration combining user-friendly sharing of files, links and messages with a news feed type experience.

18 year olds are the future. But we also need to communicate in ways that resonate for all generations.

What tips do you have to ensure you stay in touch with different perspectives?

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