Gen Z's Unique Career Prep Needs... And How To Reach Them For Real
Think your athletic department is prepared to serve Gen Z's career services needs? Think again. But fortunately, you can leverage your alumni network to reach your Gen Z athletes in a way they understand. Grafted can help.
Y'all are out of touch with Gen Z's career needs... but luckily it doesn't all have to fall on you.
📝This Week's Goal: Uncover the network of relevant, influential pros who can serve your Gen Z athletes.
Chances are, your Gen Z athletes will need more than you can give them when it comes to career prep. More than a career fair, more than a pep talk about soft skills, and more than stories about how you got your first internship.
We started exploring this theme last month. Simply put, the career aspirations of your Gen Z athletes are out of your wheelhouse.
Here's what I mean:
They want to be online creators. This stat will legit blow your mind 🤯 — a 2015 study found that over 1/3 of 6-17 year olds want to be YouTubers. Being a YouTube creator was the #1 career choice, blogging/vlogging was #2, and being a musician/singer was #3. And YouTube generated twice as many votes as musician. Keep in mind, this study is pre-tiktok and pre-COVID-isolation, two major drivers of the so-called Creator Economy. The YouTube career reality is more within reach than ever before.
They want unique-to-me, custom-curated career paths. No one-size-fits-all career event—that's likely to be a photo op and not much more. Take it from Dan Black, head of recruiting for the Americas at Ernst & Young: "Gen Z is used to having everything personalized just for them, from playlists to newsfeeds to product features of all kinds. They've grown up expecting that.... So, to the extent that you honestly can, emphasize that you're willing and able to develop a career path for them that builds on their particular strengths and helps them develop their interests."
They're inspired entrepreneurs. A 2020 Nielsen survey found that 54% of Gen Z teens interviewed wanted to start their own company. Moreover, Gallup polling indicates that up to 8/10 kids wants to be their own boss, with 4/10 wanting to start their own company.
Gen Z grads are going straight to freelance.Freelance marketplace Upwork found that half of the Gen Z workforce have freelanced in the past year, and more than a third (36%) started since COVID-19.
I can feel your blood pressure rising. I can hear your heart rate going up. "How the heck can we be expected to prepare our student-athletes for that? Unique career paths for every student? We've got a team of 2 people!"
I hear you.
Like we said last month, the question that athletic departments need to be preparing students to answer is: "What can I do to best prepare myself for success over the next ten years?"
And if you want to truly serve Gen Z athletes as they move toward career, then you've gotta adapt... or die.
But here's the good news...
The task of providing relevant, custom-tailored career advice and coaching to Gen Z athletes doesn't fall solely on you. Phew!
Because it turns out, every single athletic department in the country has access to a pool of hundreds of young professionals who (a) are often Gen Zers themselves, (b) have navigated the COVID job market, and (c) seriously want to help other students learn from their mistakes.
It's your alumni!
What's more, only your team can connect your alumni to your students.
That's why many of the most innovative athletic departments are investing now in tech to connect students and alumni. Schools like University of Wisconsin, Northwestern, Texas A&M, and UTEP are investing in the tech to deliver custom career advice and opportunities to more students.
👉So here is this week's Grafted Goodie: Identify 3 recent alums that are creators and reconnect with them. As you talk, challenge yourself to ask the tough questions:
Are you doing what you believed your degree was preparing you for?
Was it an easy and natural transition from school to creating?
What did our program do well in preparing you for your career? What did we not do well?
How can we better serve young professionals in the first 10 years of their career?
Believe you me, this is scary stuff. Chances are, you're going to hear some things that make you question your department's offerings.
But you'll prove your leadership with the step you take next.