DevOps Institute

[EP 80] Gen Z in the Workforce with Jennifer Servedio


On this episode of the Humans of DevOps, Jason Baum is joined by Jennifer Servedio CIO at Susquehanna University. They discuss Gen Z: who they are, how they are different from previous generations, and how they are transforming the workforce.

Jennifer Servedio is a visionary and strategic technology leader with more than 22 years in Higher Education. She has a strong record of success leading teams through complex technology solutions, streamlining operations, and driving innovation. Her coaching leadership style builds strong sustainable teams that thrive while promoting a diverse culture of excellence.

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Lightly edited transcript below

Narrator 00:03
You’re listening to the humans of DevOps podcast, a podcast focused on advancing the humans of DevOps through skills, knowledge, ideas and learning, or the SK il framework.

Jennifer Servedio 00:16
Their life is change, like they’re not like they don’t adapt to change or you know, as previous generations change as part of their life, and they just accept it and it is what it is.

Jason Baum 00:31
Hey, everyone, its Jason Baum, Director of Member experience at DevOps Institute. And this is the Humans of DevOps podcast. Welcome hack. Hope you had a great week. So perhaps you’ve noticed, we happen to be in the middle of a huge generational shift in the workforce. Perhaps you hadn’t noticed? really started while we were all hyper-focused on the pandemic for the past couple years. We’re going to talk Zoomers, today, Gen Z, the kids who were born between depending on who you ask 1995 97 through 2010 2012. Well, they’re not kids anymore. In fact, they’re in the workforce already. They’re defined by their value-driven approach to their careers and job prospects. And by 2025 Forbes estimates Gen Z workers will make up close to 30% of the workforce. I know I am shocked to hear are some survey results recently published in Forbes 90% of Gen Z workers desire and value a human connection when it comes to their at-work communication. When it comes to hybrid, three out of four Gen Zers favorite looking for more opportunities to work face to face with their colleagues. 58% of Gen Z workers are willing to work nights and weekends if that means higher getting a higher salary. 67% expressed their willingness to relocate for a job opportunity. As the most diverse generation to date, Gen Z is reshaping the workforce in their own image. They are definitely not the millennials. They’re definitely not Gen X and hair certainly not the boomers. Here to talk about this with us today is Jennifer serve video Chief Information Officer at Susquehanna University. Jen is a visionary and strategic technology leader with more than 22 years in higher education. She has a strong record of success leading teams through complex technology solutions, streamlining operations, and driving innovation. Her coaching leadership style builds strong sustainable teams that thrive while promoting a diverse culture of excellence. And Jen is our guest and Jen is here. And Jen, thank you so much for being on the humans of DevOps podcast.

Jennifer Servedio 03:05
Thank you, Jason. I’m happy to be here.

Jason Baum 03:07
So are you ready to get human?

Jennifer Servedio 03:10
Of course, I am. Excellent.

Jason Baum 03:12
I think I will be too. All right. So yeah, that was a big intro that I kind of read there. And I’ve got to say, I’ve been dying to do this episode. Because I, I mean, it kind of crept up on me too. And it just seems like out of the nowhere out of nowhere, Gen Z who we were talking about, okay, in 10 years, this is what they’re going to be into well, 10 years is like here, and they’re in the workforce, and we need to change some things. So I am so excited to have this conversation with you. So who is Gen Z? How are they wired? And what is it that makes them different?

Jennifer Servedio 04:01
So, my experience with the Zoomers like that Gen Z. You know, they’ve been through a lot, right. They have been, like you said, depending on who is who’s telling you that when they were the range they were born in, you know, 911, the recession in 2008. Gun violence, right. They’ve been through a tremendous amount of, of trauma, social media influence is beyond belief and then the pandemic, the lockdown and 2020 when they’re entering the workforce, right. So here they are. That’s something that I’ve been seeing lately, where I sit is a lot of these people who they were getting ready to enter the workforce, they had minimal opportunity, a lot of them went back to school to continue their education remotely that way and Now you’re dealing with people who are finishing up master’s degrees online, and they haven’t been in the workforce yet. And they’re still unsure what they want to do. It’s very, it’s very, it’s a strange time. But the ones that I do know who are working, the students who I deal with, day in and day out, they are driven, they know what they want, right? They, the pandemic has sort of thrown the last group of them for a loop, which is really sad. But they will, they will negotiate their way into what they want. They want a clear path, right? Work-life balance, it’s a flip for them. It’s a life-work balance. They know when they want to, they want a flexible work schedule, they want it all, basically, and I can’t blame them who wouldn’t? Right? They’ve seen their parents work through jobs where they’re, they’re just completely burned out all the time. And now that they see, you know, I’m going to, I’m going to, I’m going to tell people what I want out of my career, and I’m going to get it. And honestly, if I’m not continually looking at a clear path for progression for my people, they’re out the door, because there’s a clear path someone else somewhere else.

Jason Baum 06:20
So yeah, they’re passionate, they really are. But they also mean it, they back it up. I think to me, that’s like such a huge difference. I think I think many group millennials, and they see Gen Z coming in, they’re like, Oh, they’re gonna be like the next millennials. And not to lump everybody. Look, these are all hasty generalizations. Right? Okay. I’m a con major. And that’s like a bad thing, right? We’re not supposed to do that. And yet, when we talk about generations is exactly what we’re doing. Everybody fits this box. So I’ll preface it with that. But that being said, I’m going to put everybody into a box. Millennials don’t Millennials are opinionated. But then when it comes time to actually back up those opinions, not the best. Not always as committed. But then you have Gen Z coming in and they’re bold, they will call you out. They really believe it. And they believe it’s so much like you said they’ll leave you they’ll leave their job based on principle.

Jennifer Servedio 07:27
Yes. Yes. And their life is change. Like they’re not like they don’t adapt to change, or, you know, as previous generations change as part of their life, and they just accept it. And it is what it is.

Jason Baum 07:41
So why do you think that is?

Jennifer Servedio 07:45
I think it’s because they know that, they have a lot to offer. Right? So staying in the same place, you know, growing up living near your parents staying there. And that kind of I would call it Gen X guilt. That’s something that a lot of my siblings have. I was quite the opposite. I think I was born to be a Gen Z. But I was born way early. Yeah, I just think that they’ve seen so much in their lives, right. And they’ve been exposed to so much and, and I think that their parents actually didn’t want them to grow up with the struggles they had, right? They don’t need to work, you know, 24 hours a day and put their job first. Right? It’s clicked with them. It’s not work-life balance. It’s life-work balance. I mentioned it before they want it all and I applaud them for it. Yeah, and they’re advocates. Right?

Jason Baum 08:46
They are. Yeah, I mean, you touched on something that I didn’t even real, like it didn’t even dawn on me. We talked 911 And I don’t know because I mean, we kind of gave out the ranges and it always differs depending on where you look it up. Right? Same with, I mean, all the generations, right? I’ve seen Gen X starting anywhere from 77 to 86 85. So it depends on where are you? Where are you? Where are you kind of believe are ending I mean 85 But for Gen Z 911. I don’t know how much 911 Maybe played a role in their lives. I think they were very young. Certainly maybe seeing their older siblings or parents or whoever being impacted by it. Maybe. But gun violence. Who, man I didn’t even think of that one and shame on me. I mean, I can pinpoint in my school years one, and it was Columbine and it was when I was really sort of on my way out of school. which in some ways made it scary because it was the same age group. But I don’t think it had nearly I didn’t grow up in a world with gun drills, you know, the gun, the active shooter drills and all that stuff that they are growing up with now, I can imagine. And I wonder how that plays?

Jennifer Servedio 10:21
Right? Right. I mean, that actually, as it gets more and more prevalent, I mean, most recently in the news. students wanting to go to school online, they don’t even want to put themselves in that. In that situation. So

Jason Baum 10:42
what are some major characteristics you’ve seen in Gen Z students? That you feel like, and again, we’re lumping them all into one category? Right? But what are some of the major characteristics?

Jennifer Servedio 10:54
Right, I work in technology. So a lot of the students that I’m exposed to fit the IT profile, right, but they’re not, they’re not the introverted Revenge of the Nerds. It’s not that that profile anymore, they’re really creative. They know who they are, they’re very individual, they know, they have a sense of of who they are their worth. Right, one of the things I do notice, is that when they graduate, they have an expectation for what their worth is, and entry levels, not it. So, so it’s kind of a, you know, that’s, that’s a struggle for hiring managers, as well as the person you’re interviewing. Because they really they’re negotiators. Right? They know. They have strong beliefs, they have a real strong belief system in, in their values. And, and that’s how they live. And it’s like I said, I commend them, because a lot of the students a lot of the struggles right, through the pandemic, everybody is online, everybody’s on social media and cyber bullying, like you wouldn’t think it would it would happen at the college age, you wouldn’t think that people, once they leave their high schools, would have time or ambition to do anything like that. Those kinds of things exist. And yeah, it’s a crazy world that they live in. But like I said, they hold true to their values they hold true to their identity. They’re advocates for everyone, right? To see the people out at sit ins and different things that we see on campuses and, and protests that you see on the news. These are the people that are out there. And, you know, when you talk about, they’re stubborn, they’re very stubborn. So this is something so if I have a multigenerational workforce, and they hold true to what like they’ll argue until you just you can’t argue anymore and you have to walk away because that you know that they hold true to their values.

Jason Baum 13:21
Is that good or bad?

Jennifer Servedio 13:22
I mean, it can be good can be bad can get in the way in the workplace. Yes, it can tell you that. But you know, and it’s teaching people from different generations to work on, on teams together, right understanding what, what their strengths are that they can learn from each other. But a lot of Zoomers are kind of bullheaded, I would have to say, they have to be right. So

Jason Baum 13:47
with with Gen Z. So as I’m as you’re talking, I’m thinking, wow, that’s another comparison with millennials. Right? Millennials. I feel like when they came into the workforce, the this happens. I feel like no matter what generation it is, they’re like, oh, they want everything for nothing. They’re coming in, they’re going to be lazy. And they still want it all Yeah, entitled, they want the title without doing the work. Well, Gen Z is like the opposite Gen Z’s like coming in and they’re like, give me the work. Give me the work. I want to do it. I want to, they want the title, but they want to do the work to get to the title. And they’re like, and they’re willing to like I read in the beginning, almost 60% said they’re willing to work nights and weekends. I don’t think that was definitely not the millennials 67% said they’re willing to relocate for a job opportunity. Definitely not the millennials. So yeah,  they’re convicted but they’re they again, they like you keep saying that they stand by it. They mean it.

Jennifer Servedio 14:42
They want opportunity they want and I think it’s it’s embedded in them from their parents, their parents wanted them to have the things they didn’t have. And yeah, I mean this is the group of of the If that started the helicopter parents in the lawnmower parents or the parents standing behind them when they’re going to college, sort of telling them and it’s like I know mom right now. Leave me alone. Mom, I’m in college now. They know and and I think that scared their parents, right. I think that scared them a lot. But now they’re productive people in the workforce and they’re really changing things.

Jason Baum 15:26
Yeah, I don’t know what the as a I, I define myself as any you’ll look it up if you’re not sure it’s in the Oxford dictionary. So it’s a real thing. It’s a real thing. I swear. Those born in between Gen X and Millennial because it is different. If you’re born in the 80s, especially the early 80s. And those born in the 90s. I do not see how they can compare analog past digital present and future. So I think that the differences there right with xennials When I look at it, too, is our I look at it as the last generation of that old guard. We’re the latchkey kids. That’s how I view that’s how I view us. We were raised by the television. No, we were sorry, mom. We were raised by the television. We were out after school. No one knew where the hell we were. And they couldn’t contact us. That was great. There were no cell phones. So I mean, very few people had them and they were the Zack Morris phone and no one can reach you. So when you call home you called Collect and you did the remember the commercial the Bob we had a baby It’s a boy. Remember that commercial still so funny. Because you call collect you get that thing in before the when you record the prop who it is and then you hang that up before they get charged? Or mom’s gonna? Really? Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, for the collect call. But it’s a different world. And yeah, so I think growing up that it is so different than how your parents raised you, and then how you go in about right the rest of your life. And it’s fascinating. So, how have you seen over the past few years, that transition, you know, your students transitioning to students, staff and then to the professional world? You know, what, what’s, how are Gen Z ers? Handling that transition? What’s changing about them as they handle that transition? Because look, you could be one way as a student and say whatever you want, and then when you transition to that professional world, things change regardless of the generation.

Jennifer Servedio 17:40
Yes, they do. So you know, thinking about students in the classroom, right? They are, I mentioned before negotiators, right? They negotiate their grades with their professors, they get what they want out of there, you know, their work, they will argue until they’re blue with what they think it will be. And that carries over into the workforce a bit. They want constant feedback. So whereas you know, a manager would have a one-on-one meeting with an employee maybe once every two weeks. Zoomers are always, like, how did I do? How did that go? Was that good? You know, do I, like we don’t have anything to talk about when we have our meetings, because you’re always here asking me. But it’s a good thing because they don’t want to miss out on anything, right? And it can be exhausting. But you just it’s it’s something you learn to as a manager to, to adapt to but you know, when they hear about something, whether they’re qualified for it or not, they want to go for it. And that could get really frustrating it for other people in the workforce. I think that co-workers have to learn how to adapt to generation z’s. But they do, right, because they see value in them. They’re good people, right? They’re there. They’re family driven. They want that collaboration. sort of you know, I spend more time at the office than I do at home so I kind of want to have friends at work. You know, that kind of group. They like to do things together. They like to travel in packs. You know, something I read that Gen Z years prefer to work for millennials. So are saying why? I thought that was neat. I don’t know maybe because like you, you were talking about millennials a little bit how they kind of maybe they can be manipulated. That’s what

Jason Baum 19:56
maybe they don’t stand by their value right there. Yeah, you Well, they can be shaped certainly. Yeah, it’s true. I think they’re willing to, though I think that’s that we can reframe it. I think millennials, and we’ll probably get into this. I know in the direction I want to go with our next few questions, but I think millennials are maybe more open than some of the other generations perhaps, to adapt and change to the beliefs that Gen Z is, is saying, and convicted it.

Jennifer Servedio 20:29
Alright, because previous generation bosses like, you know, I’m a Gen X, sir, but I would say that I’m much more open-minded, then a lot of people might my age group for, for managing, I like to be more of a coach. And I actually do have, I am a sort of five Gallup strengths coach, which I use with my team to understand what their, true innate strengths are, and help push them in those directions. And honestly, when I think about it, my Gen Z are the ones who really, really, like, absorb that stuff. They really want to hear more, tell me more about my strengths, and how I can be even better.

Jason Baum 21:14
It’s interesting because you know that you bring it up. I do. Remember, I don’t know if you remember this, when the millennials were coming into the workforce, the xennials and millennials, and they had an article about how they get along better with members of the greatest generation than they do with the others that were definitely not Gen X. Interesting. And, and certainly not with boomers, because they remind them of their parents, I think that’s my guess. But the I always thought that was fascinating, too. And I think that still stands true. I don’t know. And, and we could talk about this, I guess in a bit, but what I’m thinking about when I told you that we’re gonna go all over sometimes on this show, just stay with it, and you’ll have fun. Boomers now that when I bring them up, that’s a convicted group, like, in their strong feelings, certainly their past of protest, and, you know, histories, you know, there’s nothing new in history, right? You know, it’s the past is always going to repeat itself. And I feel like in some ways, we’re kind of getting the newest generation of the boomers in some ways when they were kids. Now, you look at the boomers now, I’ll say, wow, how did and I won’t say any names. But my parents, those who I know who are the boomer generation, and went from pot-smoking hippies, in the 60s, who listened to, you know, music that their parents did not approve of, to very hardline conservatives, and have much more conservative values, I would say, then some of these younger generations. Wow, that’s an about-face. And I think about like, Wow, are, are we just a product of where we are in our life from a time perspective? Or like, are these gender or generations? Like, are they going to maintain these beliefs?

Jennifer Servedio 23:22
That’s a really good, good thought. I mean, I would hope that things are going to continue to move forward with, you know, being advocates supporting diversity growing. I just Simplot like I live in central Pennsylvania right now. And sometimes, you know, I come across people, it’s like, how have you even been here this long? With those thoughts? You know, it’s sort of it sort of brings you back into reality, like, wow. You know, I would hope that we would, that will continue with our Gen Z years now having children and, you know, creating a population of, of good human beings who will continue those, you know, those values. I hope that that’s, that’s going on. I mean, you know, you talked about boomers, boomers, parents were that was like the silent generation, right? You didn’t hug your kids or say you love them because you know, that’s you’re supposed to, because, you know, they wouldn’t be good people if you did that.

Jason Baum 24:32
It should be seen not heard.

Jennifer Servedio 24:34
Yes, yeah. When you, you know, I was right on the tail end of that. I was the youngest of six why I’m the youngest of six. But you know, it was like, I was the one with the mouth. And it’s because I was, you know, right at the beginning of that next generation, and yeah, your kids are seen and not heard and oh boy. Yeah, we need to forget that ever happened.

Jason Baum 24:57
Yeah, that wasn’t my grandparents, man. I love my grandparents to death, but that it’s the product of the times a little bit. All right?

Jennifer Servedio 25:04
Yes, it absolutely is. And you know, it’s really funny I hear lots of people always blame the schools, right? Oh, all the kids are like that, because that’s what they’re teaching them in school. And yeah, and it’s like, well, it has to come from multiple places, right? They’re teaching them to be good humans at home, and, and, you know, and in school and enforcing that throughout their lives. But yeah, I just, it’s a unique generation I enjoy working with. With this generation of new employees, I think that they’re like, in technology, I can hire someone entry-level, who has an associate’s degree or something. Who can do they get the tech, right, they get it, they always had technology, they’ve never gone a day in their life without a screen in front of them. And they get it, the only thing I have to teach them is how to do things the way we do it here.

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Jennifer Servedio 26:49
And they thrive. It’s just amazing.

Jason Baum 26:51
Isn’t it fascinating? And my wife and I just literally had this conversation with friends. There’s the dude, have you heard of the wait till they’re eight movement? No. So it’s yeah, it’s an IT. So for alpha. Wait till they’re eight it’s wait to give them a cell phone until they’re eight that boggles my mind. First of all, that first of all, like that they have cell phones prior to eight because I didn’t have one until college. I mean, wow. And then and, and then we were talking about leaving, you leave like we have an iPad? You leave that out? My daughter? Can she’s four and a half, she could scroll through and get to YouTube and pull up her favorite videos on her own just because it was there. Yeah, they are. And no one taught her to do that, by the way. Like they just know.

Jennifer Servedio 27:45
Yeah, they do. It’s scary. It’s scary. But just think of the opportunity, right, and they’re addicted to devices. We have to plan on every student that walks through the door to have at least five devices that will be connected to our wireless network all the time.

Jason Baum 28:07
Wow. So going back to where we were a little bit before, and some of those values and what they’re being taught. And certainly, you know, we’ve touched on some of them because I do believe the tech industry, ironically to me, is on is really on the forefront of the change that’s happening in the workforce with things like psychological safety, workplace culture issues, really getting to the heart of it, because look, it’s been bad for a while, you know, the burnout and all that and burnout is still a problem. But at least it’s being identified as being called out. It’s not like the culture of you know, when like when Zuckerberg started Facebook, and we’re gonna put a ping pong table, a basketball court, a spa, or whatever in here, but you kind of work here all like you’re pretty much here all day. You know, that? Thankfully, that’s not as much of the culture anymore. And then obviously diversity and inclusion. And, you know, with Gen Z, I’m wondering how do they approach diversity, equity and inclusion? And what impact do you think they’ll have on the rest of the workforce?

Jennifer Servedio 29:21
So just like technology is something that has always been available. This generation does not know the bias that previous generations have encountered and have grown up knowing. And I think that it causes I don’t want to say it causes conflict in the workplace, but people walk away feeling I think different generations walk away feeling like they are, you know, racists and it’s like they take it to that extreme. And it’s like,

Jason Baum 29:59
wait a minute, no, just step back. cancel culture,

Jennifer Servedio 30:01
right? Something, something that that I do absolutely is create a culture where people can, people can respect each other’s opinions. And, you know, it could be alert, there can be learning moments. Something that we try to do as a team is I let different people pick TED Talks and, and things around diversity. And we’ll watch them as a group. And we’ll talk about them as a group, which I think is helpful because then they can see differences of opinion and sort of have, you know, sit in it with each other, let’s have empathy. And let’s see where people are coming from and talk through, you know, why would you feel that way? Because a lot of times when you ask those questions, well, why do you feel that way? People don’t know. And that tells me, you know, that makes them second-guessed, wait a minute, this is something that I’ve just always thought growing up? And I have no, I have no, you know, nothing concrete to put against it. I think that it helps other generations grow their commitment to diversity, you know, their commitment to inclusion, their commitment to make sure that, that the right people are in the room when the conversations are happening. To make sure that everybody’s represented, I think that’s, that’s, that’s wonderful, where I see it, I really enjoy that, that people are looking out for that. But I’m not the only one. You know, there, this generation questions of authority, that’s something that I think about a lot, right? When you think, getting pulled over, right, if you’re speeding, and it’s okay, here’s my, you know, I can remember like being in the age group and being terrified, like, Oh, my God, here’s my license registration, I’m not going to say a word, you know, imagine somebody being afraid, they’re getting pulled over, that they’re going to be harassed for the color of their skin or, or something like that, like just having those conversations with these different generations is so important. Just for growth, because you know, these are, these are kids are Gen z’s, who are having kids who don’t want their kids exposed to grandparents who, who have values very different from what they have, right? Going into, into different situations where they could be exposed, and then, you know, them questioning things as a little kid, and then, you know, I don’t know, it’s, it’s just, it seems like it could be, things could be so much better. And I think this generation is actually going to do it.

Jason Baum 32:49
Do you think so? I hope so

Jennifer Servedio 32:52
a lot of hope. I’m around a lot of people in this age group all the time. And I just I walk away feeling like, wow, they get it. Right.

Jason Baum 33:02
I thought it was gonna be millennials. I really did. And but you know, what goes back to what we were saying about millennials and others. Yeah,

Jennifer Servedio 33:10
I don’t know. Hey, my generation we used to glue in kindergarten and

Jason Baum 33:18
Well, I think ours won’t even get into it.

Jennifer Servedio 33:21
I don’t know what it is. Jason, you just bring this out in me.

Jason Baum 33:25
I have that habit. Yeah, well, I said it in the beginning of the podcast, I gave that, you know, they are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in US history. So certainly their makeup is different, and like, actually different. And so I’m gonna go back to that Forbes survey, and maybe this will be surprising to you, maybe it won’t be. But according to them, 67% of Gen Z workers reported having witnessed discrimination or bias based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity in a workplace setting. 44% of them report having personally experienced it. Also say in this, 69% stated that they would absolutely be more likely to apply to a job at a company that emphasized a racially and ethnically diverse workplace in the recruitment materials was 70% 88% of them felt that a recruiter or potential employer should solicit their gender pronouns. And he, that’s these numbers. I mean, they’re almost 100% agreement. And then they said that 65% reported feeling strongly that such questions about gender pronouns should be part of the recruitment process. But despite their expectations, only 18% said that they were asked about their gender pronouns by recruiter. So we do not get this generation. No, no, we’re not there yet. They’re there. And they’re like, all they’re pretty much. And we are, we are way by way behind them. Clearly.

Jennifer Servedio 35:20
What those sticks tell me is that they’re very, they’re mindful of other people, they value the human connection, right? I want to know what your pronouns are, because I don’t want to misspeak and hurt your feelings. And I see that all the time on a college campus, much more empathetic. Absolutely, absolutely. They definitely feel for people and they’re there for people, they back them up. I like that.

Jason Baum 35:52
You know, coming into the workforce, as always, it’s always a transit is a huge transition, right? You know, going from pretty much a life of being in school. Yeah, in school your whole life. To now, it’s very different in the workforce. It’s like a whole new jungle, right? And a new set of rules. And also, now, things that are happening, the socio-economical things that are taking place, impact you a lot more, you’re moving out possibly around that time. You’re not leaning on your parents nearly as much anymore. So yeah, the weight of the world is now on your shoulders. And so things that are going on make a big impact. So like for myself, I could say, you know, coming into the workforce, it was we were pretty much in the beginnings, beginnings of the Second Gulf War. And I know, shortly thereafter, people were coming in in 2008. It was an economic just the complete collapse and recession of the economy. And, you know, the worst one we’ve had since the Great Depression. And that shaped a lot of people for Gen Z, who’s coming into the workforce right now. They’ve never been in an office. No, Jen’s ears. If you look at the if you go by the age bracket I was talking about, that means they’re probably around 20 to 23. Depends on how, yes, they’ve never been in an office then. Or perhaps some have if they’re going to an office that’s that never went remote. But a good chunk never stepped foot in an office. And now they’re being asked to go back, I read you that stat on hybrid, they want to go back, I can imagine why. So certainly, this is a different transition for them, I think than any of the others. So with that said, what type of successes or struggles have you seen with this age group dealing with that?

Jennifer Servedio 38:10
So when we did go remote, everyone, there was always the misconception that jobs can jobs can’t be done remote jobs, and it cannot be done remote. Well, unless you’re physically having to touch a piece of hardware. For someone, your job certainly can be remote, at least part of the time. This generation showed us that they know how to work remotely, right? They know how to be productive in a remote setting, do they want to be isolated? They don’t right now all of them, I can’t speak for all of them. I do have a person who’s working for me now who the position is a remote position and they said you know what, I want to come in a few days a week. Okay, that’s great. They love being part of the team being here. And now just purchased a home in the area and we’ll be here full time and can actually walk to the office. So it’s you know, but then you have people who want to be fully remote and yeah, it just depends on what they’re they’re used to I would say people who live in rural areas do not want to work remote. They want to be with people in more you know urban settings can work in a remote situation and then walk out the door and be near people so it just depends on what the work is and who it is. I do know that a lot of people in different generations think they can work remotely but they really don’t know how to. So this is really the first generation that knows how to work remotely because that’s been their

Jason Baum 39:58
their home many ways they’ve been preparing For this their whole lives they

Jennifer Servedio 40:01
have Right, right. Oh my gosh. Yeah. So that I think that that’s, that’s, I mean, that’s something that speaks to the type of people they are because they want to be there, they want the opportunity, right, you’re gonna miss the opportunity if you’re not there. And I think that’s and they also want to connect, they really do want to connect their life is networking, whether it’s on their mobile device or in person, they do know how to, they know how to connect with people.

Jason Baum 40:37
Gosh, I can think back to coming into the workforce and just the nuances that you pick up the office, the workplace culture, the, I should say the office culture. Going to the lunch room, and watching TV with your colleagues, going out to lunch with your colleagues. You know, there are so many things that, you know, earlier in your career, I mean, ever, someone wants told me a recruiter told me that’s the majority of people don’t get their jobs by applying to them, they get them from people that they already knew. It’s through connections, right? So relationship building, so in some ways, Gen Z should be prepared to do this, because they enjoy it. But another way is I maybe I shouldn’t based on our conversation, I kind of feel better than I did before about Gen Z with this because I was worried about them. Because I’m like, you know, I don’t know if I would be in my spot in my career without those early days of networking. And, and I don’t mean just networking, going to a networking event. I mean, like in the office networking, talking to everyone getting to know everyone learning about what they do for their job, people that you know, you have an internship, but that’s nothing compared to once you’re an actual employee their full time every single day. So I wonder what they’re missing? Is that going to hurt them down the line? Or is it a non issue? Because it’s just a different time?

Jennifer Servedio 42:12
That’s a tough question. Because so I’m used to managing people face to face. And I know in the beginning of lockdown. You know, when we were all, we were still all in the same sort of venue, just zoom, right? We weren’t all sitting in the same room, but we were all there together. It was not hybrid. When we went to hybrid, it was so easy to forget that person who was remote. Right? We’re having meetings, it’s like, oh, no, did so and so bring a laptop. So, you know, we can zoom? You know, John in or something? I think that there, it depends on the culture, where, where the person is working. So that’s something that I’ve been very, very mindful of, as we move forward with more remote workers, is how we, how we function in a hybrid mode and how we keep those people. You know, part of the day-to-day?

Jason Baum 43:13
Yeah, for those of us managers, directors, VPS, CEOs, wherever, talk to your gen Zers they need they’re going to need the nurturer meant just like we got and they might not know how to. Although now it sounds like they do know how to ask for it. But maybe they don’t you know, maybe they’re not asking the right question help them Oh, my gosh, help them because I do fear that there are things that they’re going to miss out. Hopefully with this return. Now, it does seem like there’s some you know, with hybrid and getting back to some in person, hopefully that that will. These were just a was all just a dream as to years when I be nice. So shifting gears a little bit. Maybe you could share with us just like from your own experience, you know, working with a Gen Z employee, maybe sharing like what particular success you’ve had, and then maybe where you’ve struggled.

Jennifer Servedio 44:15
Absolutely. So gosh, just success. I would say this would be a success for me if I was a life coach or a career coach, right? So my Gen Z years will come to me to ask for references. Will I be a reference for a different job somewhere else? And it’s like, how did that happen? Like well, you’re always so supportive, and you’re always pushing me to grow and I’m always sending articles about being having you know, being brave asking questions. You know, that whole thing like reinforcing their beliefs. And it’s like, you know, you have to go out and look for opportunity, it’s not going to come and find you. Sometimes it does. But most of the time you have to find it. And just having those, those coaching sessions with my team members, you know, they will come to me and say, Jen, I got an offer from someone, what do I do? It’s like, alright, let’s sit down and talk through it, let’s figure out what you want to do. I don’t want you to go, but I want you to be successful. So you know, that happens. And unfortunately, you just you, we have to move on when they leave. But you know, that’s a great thing for them. Because they’ll pass that on to people who work for them down the road, right? They’ll help them grow. You know, somewhere where we fail, I can think during the pandemic, just not being able to have that. I like to walk around and see everybody in the office in the morning. It’s one of my things everybody’s like, so how long have you really been here because you’re just getting to your office, stopping and, you know, waving hello, how’s everything, how’s this going out, you know, finding out about their family. That’s important to me. And I think that connection is important to them. And I think those are things that were lacking during lockdown that people missed. And, and I may have lost some people during that time, hopefully, gain them back when we got back together. But I just think that people suffered during that time. And being the Gen X or that I, you know, work myself to death. And I feel responsible for that. I try to be mindful, I try to create a culture where everybody feels like, I’m not just listening to them, but I’m hearing what they’re saying. And I’m hearing what they want to do and guiding them in ways to get there.

Jason Baum 47:01
You sound like a Gen Z or?

Jennifer Servedio 47:06
Yeah, I was born in the wrong era. I think it’s from being in higher education for so long being around the different students. And really being like, we just had our commencement and it’s just so it’s just that that proud moment to see, you know, all of these people all the work they’ve done, and just, you know, on the cusp of the next, the next opportunity and how exciting that is.

Jason Baum 47:30
It’s the one thing that we really tried to install on my own daughter is kindness, kindness, kindness, kindness, my mind. Yes, kindness. Okay, so we’re a Jen, thank you so much. I really have enjoyed, you know, having this conversation with you about Gen Z and, and generations. And I hope you’ll come back. I think we have more work to do on this. I think there’s a lot that we could get into when it comes to the generations, not just Gen Z, we kind of touched on some give a little glimpse of some of the other things that we could talk I want to I mean, there’s so much to say about generation, so I really appreciate

Jennifer Servedio 48:04
it. No, thank you for having me. This was fun. Before

Jason Baum 48:07
we go, though, I don’t let my guests off the hook that easy. I always ask a closing question. We don’t give this to you in advance. Maybe we should because I sometimes feel like we get you a little bit. We don’t we’re gonna last too many gotcha questions. Just one. So what’s one question you wished I’d asked you? And how would you have answered it?

Jennifer Servedio 48:29
Oh, wow. One question. So I have this question that I always ask in job interviews of candidates. And it’s sort of a geeky it question. I think, my spin on it, but I asked if you could be a superhero. Which one would you be and why? And honestly, I would want to be Wonder Woman because she’s got the truth. lasso, right. So no one could lie to me. And she’s got those reflector cuffs and an invisible jet. How cool is that? I could get everywhere I wanted to super quick.

Jason Baum 49:12
That’s pretty cool. That’s a good one. Yeah, I don’t know who Mine would be.

Jennifer Servedio 49:18
Do you want to hear the worst answer I ever got?

Jason Baum 49:19
Yeah. What’s the worst answer? Oh,

Jennifer Servedio 49:21
I love this. Yes. The worst antari ever got Fred Flintstone? And I was like, a superhero. And you know what their answer was? If anyone can push that car with the whole family in it, including Dino. Yeah.

Jason Baum 49:38
Oh my gosh, did they get to chop? No. That’s great for Flintstone lamb. Were two people thinking. I was great. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. Jen. Thanks for coming on the show. Thank you, Jason. And thank you for listening to this episode of the humans of DevOps podcast. So, I’m going to end this episode the same way I always do, encouraging you to check out DevOps Institute to get access to even more great resources just like this one. Let’s continue the conversation in the DevOps in the wild community. That’s community dot DevOps Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and most of all, stay human, live long and prosper.

Narrator 50:26
Thanks for listening to this episode of the humans of DevOps podcast. Don’t forget to join our global community to get access to even more great resources like this. Until next time, remember, you are part of something bigger than yourself. You belong

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