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Young people can be your greatest asset

Nishant PatelDec 15, 2022

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As a young engineer, I was full of excitement to solve problems and make things better for everyone. As my career progressed, I took on more responsibility and began to realize the limitations people and companies have around innovation. (I would still say, however, that I’ve kept my curious, entrepreneurial spirit.)

I couldn’t help but think of that young engineer — full of ideas and excitement — as I listened to Jon Richards, head of digital at Golfbreaks, talk about the importance of young talent on our ”People Changing Enterprises” podcast

Golfbreaks is a specialized golf travel company that organizes golf vacations for people all over the world. As a sport that primarily focuses on an older demographic, it was interesting to hear Jon talk about how young people revitalized it during COVID. It also led Jon to talk more about the value young people bring to the company. 

Contentstack — including myself — takes a similar perspective on the unique advantages that a younger generation brings to the table. I’m passionate about championing our young people, and believe they hold the key to our experimentation and innovation. Here's why.

Young people have less experience

You heard me right, I said less experience. While it’s important to have more experienced people on our teams, less is also a benefit. 

Less experience equals fewer rules, and breakthroughs rarely happen when people play by the rules. When more experienced talent tries something new and it doesn’t work, we tend to throw in the towel. 

We also can unconsciously brush off good ideas without realizing that the context we’re thinking in has completely changed. The world is not the same as it was 10 years ago. We’ve leveled up tech, business processes and skills. When we think, “That’s not the way things work,” a young person thinks, “Well, why can’t I do it this way?”

A more lenient perspective on rules allows younger people to build more innovative products. I might think of a new idea for a problem and build it completely from scratch. A younger developer might think of a new idea and hodgepodge existing tools until it gets them where they want. They put a new meaning to the idea of working smarter, not harder.

Leon Kass, an award-winning teacher at the University of Chicago, said he likes working with 20-year olds because “the big questions of life are electric in their minds.” Challenging the status quo is something young people are already doing naturally, so why not put that to work?

They’re great at solving problems

Sometimes I find that as much as I want to make an impact, it can be easy to get comfortable. I wasn’t always like that. 

Once, I left a new job within a year. The pay was great, but I was bored out of my mind and moved on well before “the rules” say you should.

There’s something like that in all young people. They want to do new things, learn, and advance forward. That tenacity for momentum and innovation means they’re one of your biggest problem-solving assets. 

On the podcast, Jon and Jasmin discussed how young people have an ability to “learn fast, fail fast and learn fast” again. If solving a problem one way doesn’t work, they pivot and try something else. Quite literally, they won’t stop until they get to the root of the issue and solve it.

That’s why we hold events like hackathons. It’s basically a high-speed race from a problem to a solution in a fun, competitive format. We’ve done two so far for our product team in India. It’s fun, but also helps us solve customer issues and create items from their wish lists quickly.

Here’s a snapshot of the winning team that integrated Contentstack with Google Voice:

Image showing three men and two women on a winning team at a recent Contentstack Hackathon.

But keep an eye on that drive; it can be a double-edged sword. A common growth area I’ve spotted in some of our younger team members is that they are quick to move on and less keen on quality control. That’s why we often pair junior and senior engineers right away to work on projects that will go to production. Determination and quality, working together.

All young people need to succeed is an opportunity

We train our interns and staff at Contentstack. But some companies like to put them in front of a computer for half a year to attend online modules; we don’t do that. 

Instead, they also help us on new projects. I like to create a team of smart interns and bring in a senior leader to oversee them. Then, we give them two to three months to solve a problem.

Once, we even solved a critical piece of Contentstack like this. We were trying to fix a system bug with some of our tools, which was a major task with huge repercussions if we didn’t get it right. We didn’t have many resources at the time, so we corralled our best interns to solve the issue. It worked and the bug was fixed. (Our more experienced developers triple-checked their work to be sure).

Jon said this on the podcast about giving young people opportunities:

"It's really important for [Golfbreaks] to recognize young people and give them the opportunity to learn at a company that encourages them. Young people will make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, but fostering that environment for them to come in and continue their education in a real world workplace sets them in really good stead for the rest of their career. And also, it allows us to identify really good talent for when they graduate.”

We have a team of 18 interns starting on our India team in January, and I get excited thinking about what we’ll accomplish. While there are many things we can teach our young professionals, there are also many things we can learn from them. For all my senior people reading this, here’s my advice: Open yourself to learning how the next generation sees the world. You have no idea of the possibilities you will uncover.

About Contentstack

The Contentstack team comprises highly skilled professionals specializing in product marketing, customer acquisition and retention, and digital marketing strategy. With extensive experience holding senior positions in notable technology companies across various sectors, they bring diverse backgrounds and deep industry knowledge to deliver impactful solutions.  

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