Gloria Cordes Larson, president of Bentley University
By Gloria Cordes Larson
March 1, 2015

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What is one piece of advice all millennials should take before entering the workforce? is written by Gloria Cordes Larson, president of Bentley University.

Don’t be afraid to raise your hand.

For those who believe the stereotype that millennials are “entitled,” this may seem like unnecessary advice. But entitled or not, I promise this advice will shape the direction of a millennial’s career. In a recent study by Bentley University on what millennials think about their own preparedness for professional life and what they want out of their career, data shows that 79% expect a pay raise every year. With all other factors equal, they value flexible work hours (96%) and frequent salary increases (94%) as key factors in deciding between job opportunities.

One could rightfully ask, “Who do they think they are?”

Well, they are members of the generation that will change the world. They’re “always-on,” continually available and checking email well outside of office hours. They’re driven by doing well, but also by doing good. They don’t separate work from life; work is just an inherent part of life. They have a greater awareness and concern about what is going on in the world, more so than any other generation I can think of. They have the skills, knowledge, and creativity to bring profound change and we need to work with them, not discourage them, from doing so.

Am I saying they should be measuring the curtains for their corner offices on the first day? Of course not! In most cases, even seeing a window from their desks will be a blessing and should hardly be an expectation. But they have the tools to get there, and one of the first steps is to not be afraid to raise a hand. Raise a hand and take on more responsibility. Raise a hand and ask how to help. Raise a hand and share ideas. They should be using their unique and informed perspective to make recommendations.

I work at a university filled with smart and creative young people. In fact, some of the best campus improvements have came from students and younger staff members. For instance, Amanda King, Bentley’s director of sustainability, regularly enlists students to offer ideas around energy conservation, recycling, and other school sustainability goals. It’s millennials, with their focus on people, planet and profit, who can give Bentley and organizations of all types a fresh perspective when it comes to challenging economic, environmental, and social issues. They should never wait to be asked for their points of view! Share it early and often – but always respectfully and with a dose of humility.

Success is never handed to anyone, regardless of what a millennial may have been taught growing up. But I, for one, truly believe in the millennial mind, and have no doubt that if they have the confidence and courage to raise their hands, they will quickly make an impact in our offices and our world.

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