Two Interns’ Views on Getting Engaged… No, We’re Not Talking About Marriage

Note: This post was co-authored by Padilla interns Kayla McMahon and Megan Finkbeiner

We’re Kayla and Megan, two interns in Padilla’s Richmond office. We joined Padilla in the beginning of June as newbies to the working world, and recently attended an employee engagement briefing, presented by Gallup, called: “The Competitive Advantage of Engaging Your Employees.” We learned the importance of employee engagement and found that our own workplace expectations aligned with several of Gallup’s findings.

Below, we’ve listed our thoughts on four key takeaways from the briefing to give you a peek into the mind of a job-hunting millennial.

1) Workplace expectations are changing from valuing a paycheck to feeling a sense of purpose.


Megan: The seminar began with a simple question: “What makes a good job?” The responses were as expected — communication, room for growth, transparency, stability, etc. After sharing our answers, one attendee made a point that ultimately set the stage for the rest of the briefing: not one person mentioned salary or benefits. According to the Gallup rep who led the briefing, this isn’t a rare finding among professionals in this day and age; research shows that a pay raise positively affects employee engagement for just 27 days.

As a college student looking for work, pay was a mere blip on my radar as I researched various companies in the PR field, finding that most of my interests lay in the reputation of the company, its work culture, client work and opportunities to learn and grow as a young PR professional. Of course, receiving compensation for my time and work is important to me — it allows me to afford rent and pay off student loans. But it’s not the reason behind my dedication to work hard.

At Padilla, I don’t actively engage because of a paycheck; I choose to engage because I want to. Because I get to work on projects that I’m interested in. Because I feel my work has purpose and is appreciated. And because the work environment is, simply put, fun.

Kayla: Finding a job when you’re fresh out of college is TOUGH. As a recent college graduate, I vividly remember filling out endless amounts of job applications and anxiously awaiting a phone call or an email from an HR department. The hardest part, however, was when I was given two job offers and had to decide between a full-time job or a paid internship.

The choice seems obvious, right? Go with the full-time job that has the benefits, a competitive salary and gives you a sense of security. But after interviewing at the two different companies, and getting a sense of their culture, I decided to go with the internship. Even though it didn’t offer any benefits and I was only guaranteed three months of work, my gut told me that the culture and reputation of the company I would be interning for was the right fit for me. As Gallup’s findings suggested, it’s not all about the paycheck. It’s about finding the job that shares your values and allows you to discover your true potential.

2) Only 50 percent of millennials say they plan to stay with their company one year from now.

Kayla: Many millennials are nomads. Whether it’s where to live, a company to work for or a hot digital trend to follow, we’re always looking for “the next big thing.” Now, I can’t speak for the entire millennial generation, but for me this statistic isn’t too surprising. When working for a company, I want to have the opportunity to explore my interests and not feel stuck doing work in one specific area. I want to feel appreciated and be able to see the impact of my work. Receiving regular feedback on my performance, whether positive or negative, is also important to me. It doesn’t need to be time-consuming, but a brief bi-weekly check-in with my supervisor can go a long way. If a company can meet these needs, I’ll have no problem sticking around. If not, I’ll be on the hunt for new opportunities.

3) Fifty-three percent of employees say a role that allows them to have greater work-life balance and better personal well-being is very important to them. Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely than Baby Boomers to assign high importance to this job attribute.

Megan: It’s true. Work-life balance is important. We’ve spent the last 8+ years in high school and college getting burnt out from projects, exams, extracurricular activities and the stress of navigating young adulthood. Of course, professional life — especially agency life — will always have stressful, challenging times. But to avoid burn out, companies need to remember the importance of work-life balance. They need to remember that professionals do have a life outside of work and deserve the chance to enjoy it.

4) Gallup finds that employee engagement is highest among employees who meet with their manager at least once a week. Brief daily check-ins are even better.

Megan: I agree and can attest to this finding. My supervisor and I have a 15 to 30 minute time slot set aside to chat each week. We talk about projects that I have enjoyed working on, any issues I may have come across over the week and my ongoing goals. Our meeting is never long or formal, but it makes me feel that my voice is heard, which ultimately makes me want to deliver my best work.

We hope our perspective on employee engagement is helpful when recruiting young professionals in the future. What is your company doing to make sure you engage and retain your millennial employees?

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