“What does it take to bring out the best in young people today, both in school and in the workplace?” asks Tony Wagner, co-director of the Change Leadership Group at Harvard Graduate School of Education, in Chapter 5 of his influential book ‘The Global Achievement Gap’ (Basic Books, © 2008). This question is his starting point to investigating what “motivates today’s students – and tomorrow’s workers” in an attempt to solve what many today see as a declining work ethic among the 20-something and younger set.
Wagner quotes Xerox’s chief scientist and director of its Palo Alto Research Center for more than twenty years John Seely Brown’s article ‘Growing up Digital’ to emphasize that we are “just beginning to see the full effect of the World Wide Web and other technologies on our lives – and most especially on the lives of the young people who’ve grown up with new and radically different communication, information, and creativity tools.” Wagner’s eventual goal is to use what we learn about what motivates young people today so that we can enhance educational, home, and work environments to “bring out the best in young adults – motivating them to be productive and to aspire to excellence in school and at work and in their communities.” He concludes the chapter by revealing that one way (to bring out the best in young people)" is to give them the right mix of challenge and support, combined with thoughtful adult mentoring”.
Here at BioTek our summer internship program is underway. We are the lucky recipients of a pool of five talented and uniquely motivated 17-22 year old offspring of current BioTek employees who will be working in many diverse environments here over the next few months including Manufacturing, R&D, and Applications. Along with offering our interns the chance to enhance important career skills and vital vitae work experience, they can learn how to be better employees of tomorrow by testing out and contributing to a supportive professional environment where expectations are nonetheless high and challenges may lie outside of their comfort zone. In turn, we as a company get a glimpse of what makes our customers, collaborators, and employees of tomorrow tick. This is an opportunity for BioTek to learn about the future from those who will be shaping it using all the ‘new and radically different tools’ they have grown up with to make the world a better and more interesting place. Over the summer some of our interns, and perhaps their parents and supervisors, may be enticed into sharing their internship experiences on this blog site, so stay tuned for reports from the ‘Net Generation’.