Business Strategy | Leadership / Management

Generational debate boils down to this: Are we improving the profession?

There has been a lot of talk surrounding the new generation entering the workforce.

Every firm I have met with in the last year cites recruiting, training, and retaining young professionals among the top things that keep them up at night.

But has anyone stopped to ask these young professionals what they want?

We did. 

On March 1, Tom Hood and I presented to a great group of future CPAs as part of a joint event with NABA-Baltimore and TCPA, the MACPA's student group. At the end of the session, we took the time to use our now famous MBSN (that’s “Management By Sticky Notes”) to find out what students really wanted from their association and from their future employers.

Here's what they had to say:

From their association, they want:

  1. guidance, with their CPA and career path;
  2. scholarships, and not only for school but for CPA review courses as well; and
  3. opportunities to connect with other professionals.

From their employers, they want:

  1. mentors — champions that connect them to the organization and the profession;
  2. flexible work environments that value diversity and work-life balance; and
  3. opportunities to learn, try new things, and grow.

Since March 1, I have spoken with students at four other events. Each time I have heard the same thing. These “millennials” are not above asking for help. They are motivated but deeply desire guidance in their careers. What they learn in class does not always fully prepare them for the workplace. I have heard it a lot: “I had to go through it and figure it out (in the snow, uphill both ways), so they should, too.” As a firm, as an entire profession, can we really say we are “making sense of a changing and complex world” if we aren’t willing to leave the profession better than when we started in it? 

The whistle is blowing. It’s the shift change. Have you left it better than when you started?

Check out MACPA's new student site.

  • Students: You can join here and get access to great resources.
  • Employers: You can post internships and learn more about what students want.
  • Professors: We didn’t forget you! There are resources for you there, too.

Rebekah Olson