We hope you are enjoying our article series that takes a look at some of the negative stereotypes facing Millennial workers and dispels those stereotypes with real-world examples of Millennials who are forging successful paths in their government contracting careers. Since Millennials will comprise a majority of the workforce by 2025, taking some time to better understand this generation should be a priority for managers across all industries.
Our next featured Millennial is Katie Hotka, a Senior Associate in Marketing, Strategy and Analysis at Sapient, who started her career as an intern for the company she now works for. Katie shares her experience as a Millennial in the contracting industry below.
WashingtonExec: What were your expectations when you first entered the workforce? What were your fears?
Katie Hotka: I began working at age 10 when I started a dog walking business in my neighborhood (being the only 10-year-old in an area of young professionals with dogs and full-time jobs made for a strong competitive advantage). Despite my experience in various jobs since that age, I think my idea of what it would be like to work full-time in a corporate office was somewhat antiquated. I wasn’t totally looking forward to it because I was picturing something like what I saw in “Office Space” – I pictured monotonous routines in my cubicle and grunt work for my first few years. I have a strong work ethic, and I was worried I wouldn’t be motivated in that type of professional environment.
At Sapient I’ve found a people-driven workplace model, where culture is so highly valued because it’s what keeps the talent engaged. I’ve made great friends at Sapient and I really appreciate the fast-paced, constantly changing nature of the work I do. It keeps me challenged every day.
WashingtonExec: What is the best personal or professional advice you have received?
Katie Hotka: I’ve gotten a lot of good professional advice but I’ve probably learned the most by watching my parents’ careers over the years. Both of my parents are entrepreneurs, and watching them build their companies has taught me the fundamentals of hard work, ingenuity, and how to make the best of all opportunities. There are two things I’ve learned from them that I think about daily:
- Think big picture – For me, this means not limiting my thinking to what I already know. This pushes me to be confident about achieving goals that may seem out of reach. Never be held back by self-made limitations or obstacles.
- Embrace every opportunity – This is about accepting every opportunity, especially the ones that scare me. Those are the ones that will help you grow. I find this one hard to do, but I’m working at it. For me, this is applicable in both my personal and professional lives. Even if the opportunity turns out different than what I was expecting, I learn from the experience.
WashingtonExec: When you think about the Millennial, what comes to mind? What positive and negative stereotypes surround Millennials, and are these stereotypes warranted?
Katie Hotka: Recently it seems that even the word “Millennial” has been sensationalized, but I think we’re hard to generalize because our generation is more diverse than any before it.
There are a few commonalities I see among Millennials that I think can make us strong assets to a team. We’re often looking to create a strong personal connection with coworkers and understand their work styles, and many of us are extremely passionate and personally invested in digital trends and innovation. We can also be extremely goal oriented so we’re resourceful in accomplishing an objective, which may lead some to believe we only seek immediate gratification.
WashingtonExec: How have technology, the economy, the recession, American culture and other generational factors affected your outlook on life and the workplace as a Millennial?
Katie Hotka: All of these things have been headlines since many of us were personally and financially independent, if not before. For this reason, certain values are ingrained in many of us. We had the Internet in our household for much of our childhood – we’re accustomed to the accessibility of information and tools, which has made us both proactive and resourceful because we’re used to being able to fix problems ourselves.
Entrepreneurship and ingenuity are increasingly natural to us because we were taught to be hyper-aware of the rocky economy and the record number of college graduates entering the workforce. We know it’s becoming harder and harder to get a traditional job but we’re willing to work hard to be successful – no matter which route our careers take.
WashingtonExec: Describe a telling experience you’ve had in the workplace with someone outside the Millennial generation. Was the interaction positive or negative, and what did it tell you about different generations of people working together?
Katie Hotka: Sometimes I’ve seen that my abilities are underestimated solely because of generalizations about my age and experience. This is not always a bad thing because it can be an extra motivator to prove those people wrong.
WashingtonExec: How do you most often get your news (newspaper, website, television, radio, social media such as Twitter/Facebook or other)?
Katie Hotka: I mainly watch TV or use mobile apps for global and political news. But I think the definition of “news” is changing for Millennials. Many people my age use social media to stay current, but I think that can sometimes narrow your perspective to only the topics that are directly relevant in your life or your community.