For those of you who don’t know what age range the Millennial group refers to…the “Millennials” are the generation born between 1975 and 1995 (18 years of age to 38). There’s a whole bunch of Millennials, the next biggest population bubble to come along since the Boomers (1945 to 1964).
CinderellaCEO: Sylvia, your parents moved to the US from Poland. How has your background affected your perspective on global events?
Sylvia W: Being a first-generation American, as they say, bears both benefits and difficulties. My parents immigrated to the United States in search of opportunities and a better life which is a very realistic viewpoint. If I would have grown up in Poland, I don’t think I’d have as many opportunities as I did here. For one, I speak both English and Polish fluently and spent my early years in a very diverse neighborhood that had its fair share of immigrant families. Already that type of exposure made me more aware of different cultures from a young age.
I also think many first-generation Americans can relate with the statement that they grew up in a mixture of two cultures: the American culture ever so present in their day-to-day lives and the ethnic culture of their parents. Although many immigrants assimilate to American culture, they don’t want to forget their roots and continue practicing their culture and keeping traditional values alive.
For example, at home I speak to my parents in Polish and we celebrate Polish holidays but they might be tweaked to include elements of American culture. This dual-type of upbringing also enables me to see global events in two different perspective and have a more global outlook. I don’t see things one-sided and try to view issues at different angles.
Sometimes being the first generation can be a strange feeling. When I visit Poland, at times I tend to feel like an outsider because compared to the natives, I didn’t grow up in the typical way they have and can’t relate to certain experiences or I have a different mindset on certain topics. At times I also get that feeling here in the United States because compared to a typical American family, I grew up a tad differently with an emphasis on Polish culture. At times it feels a bit like you are stuck in the middle, you’re not a standard of one particular culture.
Cinderella CEO: As a millennial, what do you value most about your generation? What skills are needed most in the workplace today in your opinion?
Sylvia W: It’s difficult to describe an entire generation based on a specific set of traits, especially when those traits may differ based on social, economic and cultural backgrounds. One thing’s for certain though, millennials grew up in a constantly-changing environment with one of the most drastic being technology.
Apart from technology we’ve seen the effects of globalization, terrorism, an increased talk of climate change, and not to mention, the great recession which continues to have a significant effect on youth employment levels. With this mixture of events taking place all within the lifetimes of millennials, an important skill comes to mind – adaptability.
Adaptability is an important skill to possess in the workforce. Depending on your career path, there are many positions being created that did not exist five years ago. Likewise, being able to multitask and wear many hats as they say, are all useful skills in today’s changing work environment….Also having good communication within an organization can make life so much simpler and more efficient. In addition, depending on where you work, the ability to work in a diverse environment can also become of importance. In my case, it’s something I prefer and if my job requires me to relocate, no problem.
Cinderella CEO: You are a graduate of New York University. What was the job search like for you and what advice would you give to your peers or anyone pursuing a career in the travel industry?
Sylvia W: From my experience, I felt as though I had heightened expectations upon graduation to what the workforce really looks like. What I can tell you is searching for job is a job in itself. The job search was not easy and I definitely became acclimated to rejection but no matter the circumstances, I didn’t give up. I’ve sent out numerous applications and had multiple interviews which in the end helped me improve my interview skills. When it comes to potential candidates, many choose experience over a fresh grad so it is very beneficial to have a professional network in place or internship experience.
Having a degree in hospitality and tourism is a fairly new direction of study that may not always get the same amount of recognition as a degree in general subjects such as business, the sciences or mathematics, to name a few. There may be times when you say to yourself, “I went to school for this?”
One thing’s for certain, do not get discouraged. I think most first jobs are not likely THE dream job but it can help you gain important experience and skills to find that dream job once it comes your way.
CinderellaCEO: Do you have a mentor? How has a mentor been helpful to you?
Sylvia W: I do not have an official mentor, but I try to learn from as many individuals as possible who hold influential positions by asking them for advice or just about their life story. It’s very helpful to get a real perspective of what steps someone took to get to the position they are currently in, or just advice on how to deal with tough decisions or situations.
If I come to a crossroad and don’t know what next step to take, I ask someone more experienced for feedback or advice. Most of the time it turns out that the more experienced individual went through a similar situation and can relate which provides me with a sense of relief.
CinderellaCEO: Do you think gender or global background influences who is promoted or how decisions are made in the workplace?
Sylvia W: Unfortunately, yes. Gender or cultural differences should not ultimately be the deciding factor over an individual’s competence whether or not he/she is suitable for a particular position. Having said that, there are specific cases where it may be necessary.
For example, if your company happens to be working on a project or doing business with an overseas client based in Brazil and your colleague is chosen to work on that account because they happen to be a native Brazilian, would that be unfair? For these cases it may be more suitable for the company to have a Portuguese-speaker on their team and someone familiar with the culture.
Another example would be if you as an American, happen to work for a Japanese company in their U.S. branch. Let’s say most of the management is comprised of Japanese citizens and their culture influences how they conduct their business. In one way it’s great that the company is giving preference in employing its own citizens over foreigners, but on the flipside it may be more beneficial to hire locals who posses a deeper knowledge of the market.
Generally, most decisions in the workplace, in my opinion, are made taking into account who the majority is.
Have more questions for Sylvia? Contact her at email@example.com