College graduation season is upon us! Join SEMrush for New Grads Week, which features Q&As, podcasts, blog posts and surveys on how technology has changed in our personal and working lives since we left school. Join the conversation on social media with #NewGradsWeek.
We decided to poll our U.S. office about the evolution of technology in the workplace. The ages of our colleagues range from new college grad to "older to know better."
We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed putting it together! Continue reading after the jump.
Many of our respondents saw some form of remote workspace in their future. Our current company culture in our U.S. office is structured and office-based — with a healthy support of work / life balance and event attendance.
“Several large corporate studies have shown that productivity increases for those working from home, but innovation comes nearly to a standstill,” comments SEMrush Marketing Director Michael Stricker.
Perhaps the emphasis on in-person conferences and events is a way to cultivate that innovation among remote workers. Additionally, home isn’t the only location for remote work. The would-be novelist or playwright isn’t the only type of studious individual you’ll find in third-place locations such as Starbucks.
One of SEMrush Community Manager Kathleen Garvin’s goals is to “speak and write more,” which would certainly involve more interaction at conferences and other events. As a community manager, Garvin needs to cultivate these connections in person and online.
Work / Life Balance
Work / life balance is seen as a strength of the remote work model. SEMrush Sales Executive Tyler Wilson passes on some advice. “Someone at Temple told me, in order to be successful, live where you work. I can’t see a more direct root to achieving that from working remotely, from home,” he explains.
The very technology we use has permeated our experiences and productivity at work and home.
“The ability to use Facebook is considered a relevant job skill,” notes Garvin.
Facebook, which started as a means for social networking, is evolving into a catch-all dashboard. That college buddy you met ten years ago could very well become an important business contact, and that means perhaps shooting her a message via Facebook during business hours.
When it comes to tech and content, many full-time employees freelance for others or work on their own ventures. It’s typical of the industry and furthers the innovation and creativity required for full-time jobs that need the same.
“I see myself working remotely and running my own business,” says SEMrush Sales Executive Kyle Ferretti, who self-identifies as Gen Y.
The personal brand, which may be part of one’s freelance life, is also of significant value to many successful tech corporations. When a job is the right fit, those social and business connections may collide.
Most of the younger workers surveyed seemed more interested in charging forward in their careers and taking risks. Coming into a shaky ‘gig’ economy, this isn’t unexpected.
“We’re the loudest, we’re the fastest, and we’re the first ones who’ll land on Mars,” asserts Millennial Peter Starr Northrop, SEMrush’s energetic webinar host.
Those with more history in the industry often feel differently.
“I’ve been outsourced, laid off and downsized several times during my decade in digital publishing,” notes SEMrush Technical Editor Tara Clapper. “Learning when to jump ship has become a true art in this industry. It’s important to find a company that takes risks but has longevity. That’s very important to me in my career.”
“Having been laid off four times in my career makes me more risk-averse than a younger person would be. I have a mortgage and a family so keeping my job is my number one priority. My generation craves stability,” explains SEMrush Content Manager Phillip Brooks.
Fast Pace of Evolving Tech
Younger generations are also seen as early adopters of new technology and more adaptable, but the pace of technology itself is growing rapidly.
“Since my career has been all of four years, there has been little evolution in technology that is notable,” says SEMrush Lead Customer Success Specialist Josh Pack at first. “However, we have seen 10 versions of the iPhone in that time, so I guess that’s something.”
That might be a casual remark to the self-identified Gen-Y member like Pack, but to someone with a more mature career, it’s remarkable. The younger generations are “ready to embrace what’s new even when it’s fractured across a multitude of channels, platforms, networks,” observes Stricker. “And maybe, a little too eager to follow influence, run with the herd, adopt a mob mentality,” he warns.
Thoughts from our U.S. team members ...
“We're [Generation X] the old guard now. We know how to deal with chaos. Gen X brings a healthy level of cynicism and tempered expectations to the industry. We've been through two recessions, the housing industry collapse, and the bursting of the tech bubble. It's hard to shock us. We can deal with pretty much any kind of crisis.”
“I find working with the younger people invigorating and their new ideas keep challenging my status quo and they often see things from an angle I hadn't considered.
… My career makes me more risk-averse than a younger person would be. I have a mortgage and a family so keeping my job is my #1 priority. My generation craves stability. Millennials crave change and they are fearless. And that lack of fear makes them free to be more creative.”
“Since my career has been all of four years, there has been little evolution in technology that is notable. However, we have seen 10 versions of the iPhone in that time, so I guess that's something.”
“My generation brings to the field a great understanding of current technology and social trends. We were born in a time where technology really started to develop and become readily available for everyone, so we had the chance to learn each piece of technology as we grew up.”
“The most significant evolution was not the introduction of search as a marketing channel, it was actually the evolution of the search algorithms, the fight against spam and searches applications within mobile platforms.”
“[Older generation’s] experience in traditional advertising. Lessons learned from older channels can definitely be applied to digital marketing and whatever channels will crop up 50-100 years from now.”
“I've gone from flip phones and dial up 56k modem to instantaneous connection to anything. If I really want something, I can probably find it on the internet with a few keystrokes and clicks. This has made work a much easier and quicker process across the board.”
“More exposure would probably be the biggest thing. We've seen more things in 30 years than a lot of the older generations have had to deal with, technologically speaking. We are quicker to adapt in tech, quicker, because of this.”
“Tech has gotten smaller and more accessible. When I was in college, there was still a stigma surrounding online professional networking, online dating and general meetups. Now it's expected that people use online tools to network and socialize.”
“My generation understands the value of holding books in their hands, but they aren't afraid to buy e-readers or read books on their tablets. We are a valuable bridge to our parents' generation and the tumblr generation. We can speak both languages and exist somewhere in the middle.”
“We're [Millennials] the loudest. We're the fastest. And we're the ones who'll be the first to land on mars. [Take] THAT, Gen X.”
“What is the point of envisioning my work situation in 10 years? By then I'll have an office uploaded to the Cloud or some nonsense.”
“GenX, GenY, Millennials, Digital Natives... Fresh enthusiasm. Boundless energy. Socially adventurous. Idealistic conscience. Ready to embrace what's new even when it is fractured across a multitude of channels, platforms, networks. And maybe, a little too eager to follow influence, run with the herd, adopt a mob mentality.”
“Work will grow to fill the time given it. Labor will be rooted, but conceptual work will continue to be virtualized. Several large corporate studies have shown that productivity increases for those working from home, but innovation comes nearly to a standstill. We must all come together from time to time, for resolution and for the creative sparks to fly.”
“The biggest evolution I have seen is Social Media. This started out as a social tool for people to use at a personal level but has grown to so much more than that. You now have tools like Hootsuite and Buffer that are tools just for social media and helping your business with social media management.”
“We [Millennials] bring a fresh outlook on these new and upcoming technologies to the workforce. We were exposed at an earlier stage in life to these new technologies and that gives us an advantage as we have had more time to become acclimated. As a result, we have learned the ins and outs of most of these softwares and are constantly learning new information and tools that will help us in our professional careers.”
“In the six years since I graduated college, Google has tightened its reins on SEO, smart phones are ubiquitous, and the ability to use Facebook is considered a relevant job skill. Technology is changing and improving all the time. It's already been a wild ride!”
“One of my earliest tech memories is adding images to and tweaking the background color of my AOL profile in the seventh grade. Today, you'll be hard-pressed to find a member of Gen Y in a first-world country without some kind of technical know-how. And take a look at the next generation — we live in a world where toddlers have and operate their own tablets!"
"The people I know in my generation [Millennials] want to create something great, value education and want to move up the ladder. We are hard-working idealists who are tuned in to technology and can't live without it; for better or for worse.”
“Growing up, my father told me that my career would focus around the computer. He told me to go on the computer and learn everything about it. So, I posted on forums, learned bits of code, changed my settings in windows, and basically managed my computer. This turned into a curiosity for how the Internet, hardware, and software works, which lead to a love affair with the culture of hacking.
… My combination of computer curiosity, SEO experience, and real world application of SEO with the Sales Club landed me a job at SEMrush and am fortunate to work with such talented people and merely have a well paying job out of college, period.”
“Whenever I tell people I do SEO, 9/10 times those people ask me to optimize their site. [Millennials have] the ability to understand software, adapt to new software quickly, and navigate software effectively and efficiently.”
What generation do you consider yourself to be a part of? How do you feel your generation contributes to the field? Let us know in the comments!
Header image credit: Canva & Picjumbo. Apple, the Apple logo and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Image credit for poem: Canva & Picjumbo
Kathleen Garvin is a Community Manager for and former Editor of the SEMrush blog. She’s an active part of the Philly tech scene and a contributor for I Want Her Job. Follow Kathleen on Twitter.