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What we can learn when Millennials do the talking at AWXII

Advertising Week always seemed to me, a relative newbie in the industry, to be a very serious conference for very important, very senior people. So, I was surprised, and flattered, when Digiday asked me to be a panelist for its “Ask a Millennial Live” session. After all, weren’t the senior executives supposed to be the ones telling me how to reach me? With the industry hyper-focused on how to reach the ever-elusive Millennial on mobile devices and new social platforms, the Digiday panel was a way for us to speak for ourselves.

I was joined by three other twenty-somethings from various traditional and digital agencies to candidly discuss some of the challenges and triumphs we face as Millennials in the industry. Here are some of the main themes that arose throughout the conversation:

More Than a Monolith: Although the panel was called “Ask a Millennial,” each of us stressed the importance of remembering that while there are general attitudes and experiences that unify us, we are different people with different goals, backgrounds, and passions who happen to fall within the 18-to-34 age range. The client briefs that we see tend to overgeneralize this group, which is something that we can help to change from within our agencies.

Beyond Boundaries: Although we established some clear differences amongst us, one thing we all agreed on is that a casual, open relationship with our supervisors and a general lack of bureaucracy is what allows us to flourish the most. Things like being able to ask for feedback on projects, get support for unconventional ideas and intermingling with other departments is what make us want to go above and beyond to grow within our organizations.

Speaking Up: We may have less experience, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot to offer. Good managers, like the ones I work with at MRY, recognize that good ideas can come from anywhere and are willing to learn from people under them. Case in point: my podcast, Tuesdays with Toni, came about as a direct result of being asked to share my knowledge about the latest youth social trends so that everyone can have a richer understanding of this audience. This opportunity helped push me beyond my comfort zone and opened doors that I never even thought about, like speaking at Advertising Week.

This panel was a testament to the notion that—despite age or experience—this industry can provide the runway to make our ideas come to life, as long as we’re willing to put in the work. I can only speak for myself, but so far, the path looks promising.