Sticky: Sonia Petkewich Talks to Students on the Brand of Gen-Z

The perceptions toward the younger members of today’s workforce—Generation Y (also known as Gen-Y)—tend to be a bit harsh. Gen-Y folks are often described as self-entitled, lazy, disrespectful toward authority, and disloyal to employers—all rounding out to having poor work ethics. Although there are exceptions to every stereotype, they can serve as a hindrance to them in the workforce. Many Gen-Y employees are consistently working to overcome these perceptions, and understand that their personal brand is the one thing they have complete control over.

But where does this leave our future generation (Gen-Z) of employees? And what can they do now to prepare to overcome these circumstances?

Crescent Solutions’ Las Vegas Regional Director, Sonia Petkewich, recently spoke to the Del Sol High School students in the Fulfillment Fund program—a nonprofit organization that provides students with educational learning opportunities, mentoring, and college counseling. In her presentation, she emphasized the importance of personal branding, experiences, and relationships, and how they all work together to advertise who we are personally and professionally.

“How many of you have at least one social media profile?” Petkewich asked the students, receiving an overwhelming response. “And have you ever thought about how the pictures you are uploading, the posts you are ‘liking,’ and the videos that you are sharing may affect your acceptance to college or your ability to get a job?”

Petkewich, explaining her background in the IT industry, discussed with students the great lengths college admission officers and employers take in researching a candidate’s background, including Facebook and LinkedIn. She described how different forms of technology, such as social media platforms, Casino Player’s Cards, and online shopping sites utilize servers, back-end databases, and business intelligence software analyze user behavior. Students were amazed to learn that even if they thought they deleted something off of a profile, it can still be found somewhere on the back-end of the application.

She detailed the importance of forming relationships in this competitive job marketplace, explaining that it is not always what you know, but who you know, that can make or break an opportunity. Petkewich also encouraged the students to utilize a portion of their free time volunteering and interning in fields that interest them—anything from volunteering at an animal shelter once a month, spending a summer as an intern at a software development company, or coaching a youth athletic team. She shared her personal journey of working in three completely different industries before finding her passion for recruiting in her late 20’s, stating she wished she had invested the time at a younger age to figure out what her true passions and interests were.

“I wanted the students to understand that it is okay to be a kid, to make mistakes, and to enjoy their free time,” Petkewich said after the presentation. “But I also wanted them to be a bit more conscious of the fact that what they do today can and will have an effect on their future. It won’t necessarily define them, but it will represent them.”