Why young IT pros should consider higher ed

Lauren Williams's picture

While high unemployment continues nationwide, small colleges and universities face a chronic shortage of tech professionals. As if that challenge weren't daunting enough for CIOs like myself, now I'm told we must understand how the different generations think in order to better attract and retain them. Let me explain.

Recently, I heard a great talk about generational differences, adapted from the book Managing the Multi-Generational Workforce (DelCampo, Haggerty, Haney and Knippel, 2011). For the sake of this column, let's look at the two most recent generations in the IT job market -- Generation Xers and Millennials -- and connect some of their traits (as defined in the book) to higher education career opportunities.

Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) are said to have a personal philosophy of working hard, saving money and having fun with their money. Among their core values: They tend to be independent, focused on learning, less formal than prior generations, enjoy the outdoors and seek a healthy work-life balance. They also tend to question authority, to give respect only when it's earned.


The Millennials (born between 1981 and 1994) are said to be self-confident, idealistic and also informal, as well as team- and community-oriented. They're multi-taskers and need to know whythey're doing what they're doing. They also tend to have children later in life than previous generations, and they tend to focus on their friends as well as recreational activities (sometimes earlier in the workweek than they should).

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