By Christopher Salute, SIOP Blogger
It’s Midnight on a Thursday- I’m in the middle of working on a research study that my colleagues and I are trying to complete by the semester’s end. And, by that, I mean I’m reading Facebook updates and watching television. In the middle of my work, I receive an inbox message from one of my current students. This is a first for me. Actually, this semester is full of firsts. And, these firsts definitely have a lot to do with our collective Universities’ incoming generation: tech savvy, socially connected, and demanding of immediate feedback.
Yes, I am a young professor. And, if I do say so myself, I am a pretty cool dude! So, naturally, I would imagine everyone on campus wants to be my digital friend. I picture them drooling over my crock-pot recipes and laughing hysterically at my movie quotes and sports comments. Still, you can imagine my shock when I received my first friend request from a current student. I’ve had former students send requests after the semester ends or after graduation. Now, here’s a student I currently teach. But, there’s a catch. They also happen to be a participant in a club that I advise, on campus. And part of our working together revolves around building our division’s social media platform. So, what is a professor to do? I “confirmed,” knowing that my status updates are very mild and this was a trusted student.
Then, the floodgates opened. It didn’t take more than a week before students from all of my classes were requesting my internet friendship . This was going to be a problem. But, having already broken this barrier, I didn’t want to play favorites. Instead, I accepted all and put everyone on my “restricted” list. But, the messages followed and then the wall posts. And, I realized that this semester is just a preview of what is to come. Students will no longer wait for an e-mail reply from us. They are comfortable with the technology they’ve grown up with (Facebook, instant messaging, texting) and have no problem using it to close the gap between professor and student.
Naturally, as a student of I-O Psychology, I can’t help but wonder what type of employees these students are going to become. Will they demand Facebook friendship from their employers? Require immediate feedback? Speak informally with their supervisors? Will they sell to their customers via text message instead of a face-to-face meeting? Will they even be capable of the latter?
These are the questions that now flood my brain at midnight. I have since switched gears and decided to research this incoming generation. They’ve been called Millenniums, The Net Generation, Generation Y, Generation Z, etc. Whatever you decide to call them, make sure your workplace is prepared for them. Odds are, if you haven't begun yet, you’re a decade behind them. And, by the time you catch up, they may have moved on.