Give them conferences, too!

Last year, Annie Pettit wrote a blog post that, frankly, has been on my mind ever since. The post was titled simply, “Where are the millennials of market research?

Depending on the date range for millennials being used, I’m either GenX or I’m a millennial. I’m also in a somewhat senior role with my company. This has caused me to look at some of the opportunities I’m afforded for conference attendance compared to the junior members of my team. (And honestly, while I’ve had the chance to attend a few trainings, I’ve yet to attend because of the demands on my time for the projects I’m managing.)

As Annie pointed out, the millennials are back at the office, making sure the projects don’t fall through the cracks. Let’s be realistic: the millennials, by virtue of being younger, have the junior market research roles. Conferences are usually for those in more senior positions. So the work is left in the hands of the junior roles, while the senior roles go learn more about the industry, listen to and make presentations, and get exposed to the different advances being made in the industry.

The millennials are then told about all the cool stuff that happened at the conference while they were running reports, filling in during client meetings, etc. And that’s if those who went to the conference fill them in, or if the junior staff ask specifically for information from the conference. Too often, that information isn’t being shared methodically or programmatically.

This brings me to the bigger point I’d like to make: what are we doing to make sure the junior staffers in market research get to learn about the industry, the #newmr methodologies being debated, or even just other opportunities that exist in this arena?

This doesn’t seem like a great way to keep morale high among our junior team members, nor does it seem like a way to tell those junior team members we think their career development is important.

And don’t toss them a consolation prize of online training. Remember, they’re keeping the projects moving, which likely translates into 0 time to spend on the online training.

I agree to a point that junior team members need to put in the time, the hands-on learning, and need to seek out and push for learning opportunities themselves. But I just can’t help but think it’s a two-way street, and we could be freeing them up to attend a conference or an in-person training once in awhile, especially if we want to retain the talent.

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