Millennials + Technology: The Good, the Bad and the Awkward

Millennials - critics have scrutinized this generation from many angles in recent times, with varying conclusions. Narcissistic, demanding, and lazy seem to be common. Although these characteristics may speak some truth, they do not tell the whole story. One thing is for certain, Millennials have been immersed in technology practically since infancy. They have been raised in the midst of skyrocketing technological advances.Millennials + Technology: The Good, the Bad and the Awkward I still remember as a child, a friend’s mother saying, “I wish that there was a way you could talk to your phone and it writes the text for you.” Nearly ten years later, this feature has become a staple in smartphones. 

So how does technology impact millennials?

The Good

With nearly everything going digital and rapid technological progressions, adaptation is crucial. For millennials, this skill comes instinctively given their exposure to gadgets and smartphones. You see this in the workplace among interactions with Generation X and Baby Boomers. Previous generations often seek the assistance of millennials for training on untapped features and shortcuts, on both personal and professional levels. Trainings are executed, and sometimes these processes come easier for the younger generation. This kind of humbling collaboration can build a stronger, more dynamic team.

In my current internship, it’s not uncommon for me to get questions like: “How do you set this up?” “Can you help me manage MY Twitter account?” and “That feature exists?! I had NO idea!”

Rationally, I get that not everyone understands things unanimously, but experiencing this in the workplace was initially an eye-opener for me. Ultimately, this technology/generational gap offers a learning opportunity for everyone, and sometimes we just have to laugh about it. It’s created a light-hearted environment and open communication throughout our staff. There is no segregation or judgment – we just accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses and do our best to help each other out.

Having access to technology has also enabled me to be more productive and prompt. I can contact whomever–coworkers or peers–I need to from any device. I can access documents wherever I am. Multitasking is easier and deliverables are timely. Without resources like WiFi or laptops or tablets, I would be forced to be in-office or on-campus. Or worse, I would have to use the U.S. Postal Service to mail documents– is this honestly daunting? For someone who is used to efficiency, yes. In my personal opinion, technology is simply a wonderful thing.

The Bad

Instant gratification is also frequently linked with millennials. Because the internet and society’s beloved Google is just a quick search away on any device, it is so easy to have an immediate answer. With this instant gratification comes impatience and boredom. However, there also comes curiosity and a strong yearning to learn. Those qualities result in a drive for accomplishment and the ability to multitask. Having multiple devices and the internet allows the ability to solve problems quickly and uncover new perspectives. The accessibility to a vast amount of information means this generation gains more knowledge more quickly than any generation before.

The Awkward

A downfall to this technology immersion is impaired interpersonal skills. Although millennials are more globally accepting (thanks to multiple social media outlets), it can be hard for them to connect to the individual standing five feet away from them. Constantly hiding behind a device, whether it’s a computer, tablet, or mobile phone, has hindered a social skill that previous generations have mastered. Millennials will strategize what they post to create a certain perspective on how they are perceived on social media. Rather than having real life conversations, they provide virtual snippets of their lives. Can millennials improve these interpersonal skills? Like most things, yes. However, it does not come as naturally as it has in the past.

At the end of the day, the intimate relationship between millennials and technology is permanent. Having a generation that has been surrounded by technology has its pros and cons, but each generation brings something different. Despite the negative connotations associated with millennials, technology highlights new positives.

About the Author: 

Lily Van is a Social Media Specialist at MATRIX, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing at the University of Texas at Dallas. She currently manages multiple social media accounts, providing engagement among followers, and supports the marketing department. She loves music and attending festivals, dance, and most importantly, food. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Fun

Recruiters Gone Wild: The fake resume experiment

It’s a great time to be a skilled worker in the IT industry...

but it’s not all a bed of roses.

We frequently hear stories about candidates dealing with overeager, or just plain annoying, recruiters.

So to support our New Year’s resolution of being different, we decided to conduct a little experiment.

We created a fake resume for a developer and posted it online for five days. The results were unbelievable. Check out our video to see what happened:

Let us know your own stories in the comments. Keep it clean please :)

About the Author: 

Jennifer is the Digital Content Specialist for MATRIX. Her primary mission is to understand what information our various communities want and need from MATRIX, and to deliver it to them in ways that are enlightening, engaging and in sync with who we are as a company. She loves pop culture, Oklahoma football and the great state of Texas. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Fun

The Most Important Question to Ask Yourself This New Year

Go to more networking events. Learn new skills. Clean up your social media profiles. Update your resume. Set goals for yourself. Measure the success of your goals.The Most Important Question to Ask Yourself This New Year

I sat down to write about career resolutions to set for yourself in 2015, and then realized that every blog out there is going to tell you all of the above.

If you're like me, you hoped to spend a little time over Christmas thinking about some potential resolutions for the New Year. But then food and family and pure laziness got in the way and you're still at square one. When I thought about it a little longer, I realized there's really only one question to think about.

What's going to be most important to you in 2015?

Take a few minutes to reflect back on this year and what you put first. Any regrets? Things you wish you would have prioritized differently? Now think about what you want to put first next year.

If it's your family, think about the hours and flexibility that your current job gives you to spend time with them. If you say family is your number one priority, but you’re working 60+ hours a week, something is wrong here. Decide how many hours you feel is right for your family and choose a job that will honor your schedule.

Your job. For starters, think about the job you have now. Do you look forward to going to work in the morning? I know it sounds cliché, but it's a question you have to consider. Yes, there are really people out there that enjoy what they do AND enjoy where they do it. If you can't say both of those for yourself, it might be time to start seeing what else is out there.

If it’s money/success/financial independence, evaluate the career track you’re on now and if it’s headed in the right direction. If your goal is to push your career forward, don’t get comfortable in one monotonous role for too long. You will become stale and it will only be harder to convince someone that you’re ready for a promotion.

If it’s training/improving your skillset, take advantage of all the resources that are online now. This one might be overlooked, but it’s a significant element for any professional. There is so much training available, that there is no excuse for you to stay locked up in your old skills. If you’re a veteran programmer, stop insisting that you’re the king of COBOL and learn Python. No matter what your skillset is, learning something new or getting certified in your craft will make you more marketable for when you decide to go after a new role.

“I just want to be happy.” Don’t we all. When you prioritize what matters most, it’s pretty clear to see what’s going to truly make you happy. That knowledge alone won’t get you where you want to be – you still have to take action. But it’s a necessary, and pretty easy, first step.

Whatever is “most important” to you this year, your friends here at MATRIX wish you the very best. Happy New Year!

About the Author: 

Jennifer is the Digital Content Specialist for MATRIX. Her primary mission is to understand what information our various communities want and need from MATRIX, and to deliver it to them in ways that are enlightening, engaging and in sync with who we are as a company. She loves pop culture, Oklahoma football and the great state of Texas. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Fun

How I Got My Start in IT Consulting

The funny part of my career is that I never imagined myself being in an IT role. In 1976, I had recently been discharged from the Navy, had a new family and was in need of a better job. Finding nothing interesting in the general ‘Help Wanted’ section of the newspaper, I decided to be adventurous and checked out the ‘Engineering/Technical’ section.Daniel Morehouse

Low and behold, there was an ad from IBM, something that was unheard of in those days. Upon reading the requirement, I thought, "“Hey, I think I can do that!” So I went to the IBM building, applied for the job, passed their test and soon found myself training to be an IBM Customer Engineer servicing IBM typewriters. (For some of you that would be a “pre-computer/printer document generators”).

After a number of successful years servicing a variety of office equipment, an opportunity presented itself. IBM needed instructors for their new Print Application software at their Dallas Training Center. This was something that I was certainly not qualified for. However, I was willing to learn and my track record, along with support from my management, enabled this opportunity to become a reality for me.

Since then, there have been many other opportunities through which I have been privileged to achieve great success both as an employee and as a consultant. There is much more to this story but this is what I think is most important: I didn’t go to college (much to my colleagues’ surprise.) Please don’t misunderstand; I am not discounting the importance of education. It is more important today than in the past. However, education will only take you so far in this world.

To achieve true success in any field requires the right ATTITUDE.

If it’s all about you, you’ll lose. I have achieved great success because I determined to always do my best for my employers, my customers, and most of all, my fellow co-workers. Everything we do leaves an impression. What impression do you want to leave?

This quote has been a source of encouragement over the years:

It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belong to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who errs and comes short again and again; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt

About the Author: 

Daniel Morehouse has been working in the IT industry for over 30 years. He initially started out servicing typewriters, and eventually moved into consulting, which led him to multiple positions with MATRIX as a technical trainer.

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Fun

Which Hat Do I Need Today?

Most corporate software developers are expected to perform a multitude of tasks outside their level of expertise. Often developers are asked to tackle QA, Technical Writing, Business Analysis, Project Management, and the beat goes on… Now pile on the fact that you are surrounded by lazy and sometimes inferior talent and you’ve got a ‘Kobayashi Maru’, the no-win scenario. You simply cannot do it all, so what now?Which Hat Do I Need Today?

Educate
Make sure all parties involved understand the development process and what is required for success. Enlightening stakeholders concerning the SDLC (software development life cycle), or at least some equivalent, will ensure the business is educated on required processes.

Oftentimes business management has no idea on complexity. They think creating a contact is trivial, but we know differently as this depends on such items as scale, localization, and roles. Communicate this through emails, blog links, sequence diagrams, discussions, and any other way you can. Business doesn’t know about software development. That’s your job.

Organize
Regardless of team or project size, you must know what the finish line looks like; otherwise, you’ll never get there. Along with the business, define the end goal and formulate a plan to get there. If compromises are agreed upon with the business, ensure they understand the ramifications.

Process
Your plan needs to include solid processes such as agile in order to keep stakeholders and developers engaged and on the same page; especially, since you’ve been wearing multiple hats. This will quickly show the organization your worth and expose slackers and misplaced developers. You won’t have to say a word.

Document
Try not to get to involved with this stage as hopefully you’ve obtained someone who can help (see technical writer role below), but the minimum following items need to be defined and documented:

  1. Sprint Deliverables i.e. On 1/22 users will be able to enter and save contacts.
  2. Project Responsibilities i.e. The business must deliver requirements two weeks in advance and be placed in the task backlog.

Now we are getting organized and acting like we know what we are doing. Expectations are everything. If everyone knows what is expected and it is clearly defined, then all parties are covered.

Roles
Each person within the organization needs to understand their role within the project. This is your opportunity to again show everyone the amount of business value you provide. At minimum, define the following:

  1. Business Project Manager. Your go-to person for all things business. When you need answers, this is the person who has them.
  2. Project Manager. Someone has to keep things in order and be responsible for development. All communication between the business and developers must go through this person; otherwise, you’ll open yourself up to misinterpretation. This person will end up setting schedules, allocating resources, controlling scope creep, and driving the project.
  3. Technical Writer. Who is going to work with the business to document use cases, user stories, deliverables, and requirements? The business needs to stay at least two weeks ahead of development with what they want to see delivered in the coming sprint. Now the business is driving exactly what they want to see developed. Beautiful.
  4. QA. Developers do not make good testers, so if you are pinned with this responsibility, make sure the business acknowledges the time requirements and risks. TDD (test driven development) will be your best friend in this case. Hopefully, at minimum, you’ll involve a few actors/users for regression testing.
  5. Development Team. Architect, Back end layers, Front end layers, middle tier, and production support. FYI… You can’t do them all.
  6. Systems Integration. Who’s responsible for saying the software is ready for production and where does the software live? Hopefully, you’ve negotiated getting everything up in the cloud as this will greatly speed up development and simplify items such as security, backups, and disaster recovery.

Sale
Time for you to wear yet another hat: sales. There are several ways to go about getting the above implemented into your everyday life. Threaten physical violence (highly recommend), tell your boss he’s a moron (highly likely) and threaten to quit, or be the consummate professional and present the facts.

  • Fact 1: Current processes are not rendering expect results. You’re not happy and neither is the business. Change is in order.
  • Fact 2: Current processes (if the are any) are not sustainable. High levels of anxiety prevail and top talent cannot be attracted. They know better than to enter here.
  • Fact 3: You must run software development like a business within a business.You cannot treat it like customer service or purchasing. It doesn’t subscribe to traditional business departments.

I could go on, but you’ll find plenty on your own that apply directly to your business.

Conclusion
The business needs you. You are the one who provides ‘business value‘. You’re asking for something that will improve the business by creating sustainable, extensible, and maintainable software that the organization can go forward with for years to come.

Time for business to realize chaos and grinding on their best performers is not a sustainable paradigm and will ultimately cost the business time and money, giving their competition the edge.

In the end, if the business does not want to listen to the wisdom with which you speak… Then it’s time to move on, professionally.

About the Author: 

Tom Williamson has thirteen years experience in project management, enterprise software development, and four years of cloud computing with specialized expertise in business process improvement, change management, and Business Analysis. Hates zombies, clipping toenails, and fighting with bullies. Follow Tom on Twitter and at his blog.

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PM-Agile