Friday, April 1, 2011

Monash University PAL Program Leaders prove that we are in good hands with Gen Y

My work results in me working with Gen Zers through to Builders. Not a bad spread, is it!

Often Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and Builders bemoan Gen Y.

"They want everything now", "They are selfish", "They don't understand loyalty", "It's all them!" are statements I regularly hear.

But Gen Y are as selfless, community focused and loyal as any other generation.

I have proof.

Some of the work I do with developing leaders has me working with students in various leadership programs for universities based in Melbourne, Australia. One such program, the PAL Program for the Faculty of Business and Economics at Monash University has students experiencing a range of developmental programs over a three year period. In their final year of the program the students create community based projects.

They give up their time to generate and manage sustainable projects. Last weekend 56 students gave up half of their Saturday (it was a beautiful 29 degree day too) to go through a facilitated process to create projects. Next Saturday the students will complete the first phase of this process as each 'project team' will participate in a workshop to 'launch' their project and enhance the probability of achieving their desired project outcomes.

Each project must fulfil at least one of the following principles:
  1. Enhance the student to student experience
  2. Enhance the student to Faculty experience
  3. Enhance the Faculty/University to community experience
The projects often end up raising awareness for charities and/or current domestic/world events. Ultimately, the students do make a positive difference through their actions (which are all in addition to their studies, part time work and anything else they might be doing with their lives). If nothing else their projects create a sense of community and belonging for students, factors that are extremely important and cannot be underestimated in terms of student well being and mental health. This is of particular importance given the sector research indicating a significant drop in student time on campus and their sense of belonging and community with regard to university life.

A significant purpose of the program is to enhance the employability of the students by providing them with real opportunities to do real work. Universities recognise the importance of creating well rounded students who understand theory and are also able to put theory into practice. Over many years of facilitating these programs I can say that they do enhance the employability of the students. The lessons that arise from working with other talented people, within tight timeframes and limited resources (often there is no money available for the projects - the students have to generate the income they require for the projects to be funded - which create a wonderful 'mind-shift regarding money that is invaluable) are practical, real and powerful for the students.

After each day of completing my work with these students I always walk away with high energy levels and heightened sense of positivity regarding our future. These students do care about more than themselves, they are selfless and willing to give of their precious time for a higher purpose and most importantly they do make a positive difference. Our future really is in good hands.

I look forward to sharing their successes later this year.

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