Young Professionals Seek Leadership Development Programs
Tenured women in the workplace have come to know the value of leadership development opportunities. Often, they’re seeking resources independent of their formal training like blogs and virtual events, to gain insight on the topic of advancing their career further. Women bond through vulnerable conversations of personal experience, and we enjoy learning from and supporting each other as we prepare for more challenging positions in our industry. I’ve witnessed the value of this interaction and it’s powerful. My concern is that these activities are more of a reaction, after years of yearning, and I believe that it’s time to invest in programs that offer these opportunities as preparation long before it feels like something’s missing.
When is the “right” time to inquire about leadership development opportunities?
As a recent college graduate, I can attest to the fact that young women are seeking jobs that come with a promising track to success. We are not only considering the highest paying opportunity or most attractive offer but seeking employers that show a genuine interest in investing in our futures, primarily through tracks that offer structured leadership development programs.
RippleMatch, an online career-matching platform, published an insightful article highlighting the top 27 companies that they feel offer exceptional professional development programs for entry-level employees. The common theme amongst all these companies is that they’re hiring employees with the intention to further explore their innate talents. This approach allows the company to strategically position the new hire within the company, where they will personally thrive as well as benefit the business. Every organization listed takes one to two years to invest in the employee by: shifting them around to work in multiple departments, providing in-house mentorship programs, and providing training in a variety of functions throughout the company. Usually, after this extensive onboarding process, the company invites the employee to choose what they feel is the best-suited department or specific career path for them. These companies are fostering talent. The VP of my current employer, Brad Wills, often says, “we are hiring talent,” and I recognize many benefits to this approach.
On the contrary, when companies hire candidates direct to a specific position, recruiting efforts must be focused on a specific skillset and set of credentials to fit that one role. This comes with the risk of overlooking great candidates with strong potential to contribute beyond that role into the future.
Many young professionals entering the work force currently are part of “Gen Z,” as am I. One thing we know about this generation is that we thrive in personalized settings. We value quality time and want to be heard and appreciated for what we have to offer. By extending first-time employees more fluid job offers, this relieves the pressure on the employee to “fit the role” immediately. It allows them to learn about the company, gives them the space and freedom to observe current practices, and then encourages them to offer their own opinions. These employees feel a sense of belonging and thus, support a collaborative working environment.
I encourage company leaders to consider this approach to hiring! The best way for our FTA member companies to appeal to the newest generation in the workforce is through attractive leadership development programs that are competitive with those common in other industries. I know that we have a vast array of opportunities for both men and women in the flexographic industry and we should ask ourselves, “What kind of development are we offering, to attract the best candidates?” I believe this should be considered as preparation for the health of the business into the future, instead of waiting until individuals seek development when something feels like it’s missing. I would love to see a shift to helping young professionals start their career with a vision, instead of waiting until difficult circumstances create a reaction for change, hindered by lack of resources or training. Furthermore, let’s all continue to create an environment that encourages young women to see themselves in this industry, and as leaders.
I would love to keep this conversation going! Please share your thoughts and experiences on the topic.
Take a look at this article to learn how different organizations approach investing in their new employees. Each company that RippleMatch reviewed provides different, creative ways to implement these types of programs and processes.
About Elizabeth Jones
Elizabeth recently graduated from Clemson University with a graphic communications major and brand communications minor and is currently working as a sales associate for MacDermid Graphics Solutions.
“As a new graduate, I couldn’t help but compare my experience entering the flexo industry to my friends experiences as they entered a variety of other industries themselves. This made me wonder how we, as women in flexo, could advance our hiring and onboarding processes to make women and all new hires want to stay in flexo for the entirety of their careers. I am hoping that we can begin to shift the mindset from ‘working a few years to get experience’ to ‘my company is investing in me.’”