Preparing for the Future: Perspectives from Gen Z

While COVID continues to bring its multitude of challenges, students like myself and the schools we attend are preparing to resume courses with a combination of in-person and all-virtual classes. And for those of us who have held internships at firms, we’ve seen companies transition to working remotely and interacting virtually. While COVID has brought many changes, it has also provided opportunities to be creative in how members of my generation—and the companies we’re interested in joining—prepare for the future.

Firms and Candidates: Keeping in Touch

For some of my architecture and planning peers entering the workforce, one of the main challenges is that some firms have had to pause their hiring processes. While this is disappointing, it gives job seekers an opportunity to differentiate themselves, create stronger connections, and learn if the culture is a good fit by continuing to keep in touch and up to date on the firm’s projects, even if they aren’t currently hiring. Conversely, there’s also an opportunity for companies to keep in touch with potential candidates in preparation for the future.

Attracting the Next Generation of Talent

In addition to staying connected to potential candidates, firms can prepare for future hires by considering what the next generation looks for in employers. While young professionals are often attracted to firms that work on appealing project types, that’s just one aspect they consider. Candidates want to create and develop a meaningful connection with a firm, through considerations like firm culture, office set-up, team dynamic, community engagement, and flexibility of work and life.

CORE Experience and Takeaways

While interning at CORE Planning Strategies last summer and fall, I found their open office layout to be enjoyable and fun. The studio culture I’ve enjoyed at Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning—being able see what your neighbor is working on and getting impromptu feedback and advice on a project—translates well into firm office culture. With the impacts of COVID taking this summer’s intern experience online, remote working provided us with an opportunity to become creative in those connections and avenues for feedback. Through this experience, both in school and in the workplace, it has demonstrated the importance of being flexible to flip to new ways of working and adapting to a rapidly changing situation.

The projects I’ve been involved with have also provided some lessons learned related to being flexible and preparing for the future. For example, one of our recent projects has required engaging stakeholders virtually and participating in online public meetings. I’ve also witnessed how the changing environment of the workplace is being addressed in facility projects. And for the Innovation Hub on the 16 Tech Innovation District campus, a key consideration of the design and development is the future of technology.

While COVID has its many challenges and has created an interesting time to say the least, it has highlighted the importance of being flexible and continuing to build a network of relationships.

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