Why work with Generation Y?

Millennials are often misrepresented as unwilling to communicate. I disagree, especially after a terrific conversation with eight young professionals.


Millennials are some of the most connected people around, exploring some new and yet uncharted digital territory. They like to be connected, both online and off, but they’re not tethered to, say, paid cable TV. The majority lives in urban areas, and is migrating from suburbia to urban areas.

Yet the assumptions about the millennial generation continue to circulate:

  • Generation Y won’t make a phone call or have a face-to-face conversation to resolve an issue.

  • Millennials know only how to complete a design via a software program; they’ve never seen a project in real life.

  • Team discussions don’t happen—everyone just texts each other.

I’ve seen the exact opposite. On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., I visited with eight young professionals who debunked nearly every negative assumption. While there were plenty of words such as “like” and “you know” scattered throughout the casual roundtable, there also were several very well-thought-out insights that came from the conversation.

The group included professionals—engineers, engineers in training, and recent graduates—with varied engineering backgrounds. They all felt they had a role in the projects they worked on; no one felt they were doing meaningless work without impact. They worked in project teams with mixed levels of experience. And they all had opinions on how to improve in their jobs and in their interaction with others, including manufacturers.

Amara is editor-in-chief at Consulting-Specifying EngineerEach professional had the theoretical knowledge needed to design systems in buildings, and their collaborative environment gave them the practical knowledge they needed to succeed. The open dialogue that flew around the table showed the trust, strong mentoring approach, and practical tack this firm employed concerning its junior members.

Without giving away their company secrets or divulging the incredible feedback they provided our team, I can provide at least one important thing: The next generation of consulting engineers is a smart, thoughtful, engaging group. And yes, they’ll pick up the phone if you call.

Amara Rozgus is Editor-in-Chief at Consulting-Specifying Engineer.

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