A young professional is not simply young and inexperienced; the term connotes a deeper, more specific meaning and a description – albeit an overgeneralized one – of my generation of millennials as a whole. Urban dictionary (yes, I am quoting urban dictionary in a legal newsletter) defines a young professional as: “a recent college graduate whose main objectives in life include: career advancement, becoming financially secure, spending too much of their yearly income on expensive clothing and maintaining a busy social life.” I would add to the stereotype a heavy reliance on technology as a mode of communication, and a resulting difficulty forming and maintaining professional relationships.
I am the first to admit my networking skills could use some work, so no stones are being cast here. But all one needs to do is open Instagram to catch a glimpse into how many millennials prefer to spend their time. While benefits of social media are far-reaching, simultaneously it is hard to deny it has also resulted in many millennials engaging in more screen and less face time (actual, in the flesh face time), which is one more hurdle to the already awkward task of professional networking.
So where does that leave the firms hiring these young professionals? Are they responsible for spoon-feeding us yuppies networking opportunities on a silver platter? Well, I proffer the noncommittal answer of yes and no. Law firms in particular have an interest in hiring associates who will ultimately make connections and bring in business. With more and more young hires coming through the doors, law firms are at least partially responsible for addressing potential points of weakness if they value the firm’s success and advancement.
Tyson & Mendes is an exemplar of how to foster and grow millennials into more effective businesswomen and men. The firm offers countless opportunities to network, including holding informative CLE events, social happy hours, and various events hosted by the Young Professionals Group and Women’s Initiative. More experienced attorneys are more than willing and available to mentor younger associates. When young associates are consistently provided opportunities to form professional relationships within the firm, the result is greater confidence to connect with the broader legal community, and ultimately form lasting business connections. This approach may well explain Tyson & Mendes’ exponential growth and success.