Now that the class of 2015 is officially settled into the real world, they’re on their way (hopefully) to launching their careers via internships and entry-level positions.
But what exactly are employers looking for when hiring millennial employees? We had the opportunity to sit down with Jennifer Santiago, Regional Talent Acquisition Manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, to get advice on how millennials can make a lasting impact when starting out in their first jobs.
For the last ten years, Jennifer rose in the ranks at Enterprise and learned first hand that having a strong personal brand is crucial to career success. She started in Enterprise’s Management Training program, which exposed her to several departments within the company. “Training is a huge part of our culture,” Jennifer said. “I’ve appreciated getting a lot of hands on experience from department heads and vice presidents, and now that I’m in a leadership role, I love the opportunity to give back to the company.”
Jennifer truly enjoys the opportunity to work with millennial professionals and help them harness their leadership abilities both personally and professionally. “Understand the value of starting at the bottom because that gives you leadership experience and sets you up for success.”
Her Agenda: How did you get started in talent acquisition, and what are some strengths that you believe millennials bring to the work place?
JS: After starting my career in the MIT program, I was managing a store within one and a half years. I’ve always had a love for sales, but it wasn’t until a recruiter position opened up (and I was encouraged by my mentor) that I considered moving into human resources. As far as millennials are concerned, I’ve noticed that they’re team players and can multi-task. Of course, they are also very tech savvy, but those skills must be channeled correctly in order to be valued as productive for the company. Finally, communication is essential for anyone looking to excel in the workplace. This skill truly depends on the person, but I think that all millennials can learn to be more proactive communicators, and a company will ALWAYS require strong communicators.
Her Agenda: What has been the biggest lesson you have learned in your career thus far?
JS: At Enterprise, promotions are made within and are based on performance. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that your input will always determine your output. I’ve always appreciated the leadership opportunities that are available for employees within the company. There is so much value in learning something from the ground up. And while success is about numbers and results, building a personal brand is just as important. In your current and future roles, you want to ensure that you are representing your best self. Treat every day like an interview and always be prepared for new opportunities that may open up. Finally, make sure you’re keeping track of all of your highlights and accomplishments. This will be crucial when you’re ready to go for that new position or if you’re up for a promotion.
Her Agenda: A lot of millennial women don’t believe they’re “qualified” for certain positions. What would be your advice to them?
JS: As women, most of the time our biggest roadblock can be ourselves. As they look to advance in their careers, millennial women must be willing to move out of their own way, keep their foot on the gas and be unapologetic about what they hope achieve. Most importantly, we must remove this gender piece! Sheryl Sandberg said in her TED Talk that you shouldn’t automatically assume that you’re not good for the position, but pursue it confidently. She also mentioned the power of having a diverse group of mentors that can give you different perspectives as you rise in your career. Millennial women specifically are in such an amazing position to become the leaders of tomorrow – they just have to believe that they can do it.
[Editor's note: This feature was published on August 13, 2015]