Kayla Woitkowski: How to Build a University Recruiting Team From Scratch

As Baby Boomers retirements pick up the pace, companies are now facing questions on building the pipeline of next-generation talent. Learn Kayla Woitkowski of @SAS on how she saw this need within her own company and then spearheaded a drive to create a university recruiting team from scratch.

Kayla Woitkowski is the Sr. Manager, University Outreach and Recruiting at SAS. Leading a team that is responsible for developing, executing & maintaining strategic student outreach, recruitment, and programmatic efforts to meet the demand for hiring the next generation of student and early-career talent at SAS.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - How to Build a University Recruiting Team From Scratch

Welcome to the next Generation Rock Stars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent or you are in the right place.

Amanda Hammett: 00:13
Today, I have a great, great conversation. Just share with you. I talked to Kayla Woitkowski who is the head of the university recruiting at SAS in North Carolina and they are a privately owned company but they are consistently on the great place to work list pretty much every single year. And there are about 40 years old and they are a software company and they're doing some really very cool things, but what they're really doing that's really cool is they're using their own social innovation and their own initiatives on data for good to help them recruit students at the university level. So listen in and learn a lot from Kayla Woitkowski as she shares with you how she built an entire university recruiting program from scratch.

Amanda Hammett: 01:01
Welcome, Kayla.

Kayla Woitkowski: 01:03
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Amanda Hammett: 01:06
I'm really, really excited to talk to you, just to get the audience a little context on how I came to be with you today. I was invited as a guest to the great places to Work Conference of 2019. It was awesome. I sat in on a session led by someone from SAS on of social innovation and he was phenomenal and she was showing all these wonderful things and he talked a lot about a program that you guys have called data for good. Which I'm so looking forward to talking to you about and sharing with everybody because I think, but that's how I was, kind of put around to you how I got to you originally and you and I just had a conversation and I thought that you had some really interesting things to share with the audience about university recruiting. So Kayla, why don't you tell us a little bit about you.

Kayla Woitkowski: 02:02
Sure. Wonderful. Well, again, thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to share a little bit more about university recruiting. It is, in every way, shape and form. My passion of really a little bit about me is I actually studied human resources and business administration at North Carolina State University and uh, back in college, you know, and setting human resources. I found the field to be incredibly broad. There's so much that you can do in human resources from leadership development to training and development to recruitment's compensation, all the different areas. So, yeah, in college I ended up having quite a few different internships. I was a little crazy and actually had six different internships. I know it's a little crazy, but it was really through those various internships that I kind of tested and tried out different areas of HR and one of my internships back in 2009, which is incredible to think it's been a decade.

Kayla Woitkowski: 02:57
But I was working at BMW down in South Carolina. Yeah, right there off of I 95 probably seen it, hired to be kind of more of the training and development in turn. But I found that the amount of time I was spending doing my actual work, it wasn't enough to fill my day. So I ended up talking to the recruiter that recruited me and said, hey, I have a few extra hours of time. Um, I would love to hear more about this field called university recruiting. So she kind of pulled me over to do some work to help her and it was in that moment. Then I found my passion. I think there is nothing more empowering and inspiring than helping students really find and land that very first job out of college. And really since that point in time since 2009 I've been, now I'm working primarily in the technology field in all aspects of university recruiting.

Kayla Woitkowski: 03:54
So, um, prior to being a SAS I was at a company called Netapp. They do data storage headquartered out in California and spent some time out in the silicon valley helping to do some university recruiting out there. And now has been fast for about five years helping to build and grow our university programs here. So that's a little bit just in brief about kind of the professional side of myself, but personally, I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and that ended up down here in North Carolina for college. I was a first-generation college student, so scholarships brought me down to North Carolina and allowed me to stay more personally I suppose expecting my first child in September. So I suppose the important pieces about myself.

Amanda Hammett: 04:40
Awesome. Awesome. Well, interestingly enough to note, and this was not planned by any stretch of the imagination, but you actually know a guest from our first season.

Kayla Woitkowski: 04:52
Yeah. Yeah. So it's one of that kind of multiple lines of connection. Honestly, I would be surprised if she even remembers me, but she, I did go to high school the same high school that I did just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I have an older brother, so she was in the same great as my, as my older brother. And I believe she was very involved in cheerleading along with some of my girlfriends. So yeah, it's a small girl.

Amanda Hammett: 05:17
Yes, absolutely. So for those of you who watched and followed along on season one, that was actually skewed. So she was from the beam, she was just a dynamo. So yeah. All right. Okay. So let's get back to SAS though. You guys actually had a very interesting situation come about. Actually, it's not that unique right now in corporate America. I feel like it's something that more companies need to start addressing and talking, talking about. And I think that you guys have done a really great job of addressing it head on, but you guys found herself in a situation where your workforce was older, a lot older.

Kayla Woitkowski: 05:58
Sure, sure. Yeah. And you're exactly right. I, it's, it's a common problem now, and maybe not a problem, but a business circumstance that's taking place on corporations all across the world with the baby boomer generation. Historically, having been the largest generation in the workplace and obviously now approaching retirement age and starting to kind of vacant positions that it's creating a lot of gaps in skill. It's creating a lot of gaps just in the sheer volume of employees at organizations. And although it is something that every organization is facing to your point at SAS, it was perpetuated because we are very fortunate to have a corporate culture that has been a year over year names as one of the best places to work in the world. And we have an incredibly low turnover rate for the technology industry. And for that reason, a lot of people have spent their entire careers here at Vassar.

Kayla Woitkowski: 06:57
And so now we have the circumstance where we were kind of foreseeing that a large population of our workforce is eligible for retirement and we have this need to really build the next bench of talent that really was going to help take our workforce board into our next 40 40 years for 40 years software or a 40-year-old software company. So at the time that I joined SAS, actually I was coming over, as I mentioned from a company called Netapp there at Netapp. I was one of 11 doing university recruiting. So we had a pretty built out university recruiting function and then came to SAS and quickly observed that there wasn't a university recruiting discipline necessarily and teams. So I saw this as a fantastic opportunity and honestly, just the stars aligned that there was a true business need for us to be proactive about identifying and recruiting strategically the next generation of talent for our organization. And that's, you know, I just came in with a passion and desire to want to build and grow. So we did it. We really took this as an opportunity to build and create a university recruiting team from the ground up. And that was about four years ago, back in 2015 now, four years ago. Actually, that would be four years ago, 2015 in this June. So, mmm. Yeah. So that's how we addressed that problem.

Amanda Hammett: 08:24
Very cool. So tell me about, I assume that when you took this to higher ups and we're building this business case, right? You know, what did that look like? I mean, what were the age ranges that you were facing currently and, and what kind of skills did you know that you were going to have massive losses in?

Kayla Woitkowski: 08:42
Yeah, it really, the way that we approached it with leadership is that one, we already had a fairly substantial intern program that at the time, you know, we, we weren't capitalizing on the talents. So at that time, we were converting to full time in about the mid 30 percent of interns were actually receiving full-time offers. And the industry really tries to target more closely to 60 to 70% of their interns receive the full-time offer opportunities. So really started first with we have a program where we're not seeing the complete return on investment, so we know this talent is strong, we're getting them over the course of an entire 10 to 12 weeks. Why not take this talent, assess their skills and give them full-time opportunities. You're going to get so much more insight and data on these candidates over the course of an internship then you would potentially during an interview process.

Kayla Woitkowski: 09:36
So that was kind of piece one yeah. Was let's capitalize on this intern program that is already in existence. Let's, let's make it bigger. Let's make it more strategic. Let's make an experience for these students, students. And then too, a lot of what we brought to leadership was more so industry benchmarks around what other organizations of our size and in our industry we're doing in terms of the university recruiting at that time given some of the experience out in the bay area, there were some contacts that I was fortunate enough to make during that time that were leading university recruiting programs at the likes of Facebook and Linkedin and Twitter and some other organizations and them were generous enough. You'll find the university recruiting field is very open and people who are willing to give information and you know, benchmarking with them, finding out that, you know, a company like Linkedin and Facebook who has exceptional brand awareness because they're consumer more consumer branded products. They were having university recruiting teams to the size of 35 to 80.

Amanda Hammett: 10:36

Kayla Woitkowski: 10:38
Yeah. That is out there really driving. Their brands on university campuses and, and helping to recruit that top talent. So it was really taking that benchmarketing market data and saying, here's what our competition for talent is doing. If we're doing nothing, we are not securing our future with top talent. So it was more so around the opportunity that was being lost. Maybe not so much at the time around looking at the workforce Democrats graphics in great detail. There's more than we need to be doing more.

Amanda Hammett: 11:11
Absolutely. That's wonderful. I'm really glad that you saw that opportunity and you seized on it. And especially I know that they are as well, that you saw this whole that was very entrepreneurial of you and to address it. So let me ask you, as you guys have started to change the methodology here at and who you're attracting, what changes have you guys had to make internally as well, whether it's through benefits, whether it's through internal coaching, whether it's through whatever, what have been some of the big changes you've had to make culturally as a company?

Kayla Woitkowski: 11:52
Yeah, it's a real question. And one of the major things that we've had to do is I partner very closely with somebody that leads more of the learning and development aspects of human resources. And we have built now very well built out programs that are more for training and enablement. So when these individuals come on board, come day one, we joke and say you're going to go through an entire additional semester of college except it's going to be specific to SAS. So we call these programs our SAS academies, depending on the job that the individuals being hired into this learning and development team has built out. A fantastic curriculum that kind of takes them through every aspect and competency of the role that they're expected to have in order to be successful day one on the job. So it's a matter of if we are trying to kind of fill a skill gap that experienced hires are vacating, we can't expect Scott college students that come out of college and have all the skills to be successful.

Kayla Woitkowski: 12:55
You know, the universities do a fantastic job building a kind of theory. And a lot of times a lot of hands-on practice, but it might not be in our technologies. That may not be the way that we sell our products. It may not be the way that we expect to treat our customers. So a lot of that we need to invest, we need to invest in these students and make sure that they're getting all the skills necessary to be successful. So that has been a huge investment of the organization and has been to create and build out these Sass Academy programs and we've definitely had to completely flip on the backside. The way that we recruit, you know is a typical traditional recruiting model, at least at the time that the team was being built. I mentioned briefly about sex is workplace culture. And we're very fortunate to have kind of the best place to work culture.

Kayla Woitkowski: 13:44
And for a while, there is an organization we were resting on that to be our form of attracting talents here in the local area that it works exceptionally well. But when we're talking about the top talents across the entire nation, we wouldn't show up on university campuses and we'd hear SAS, you know, a semester at sea or a SAS. Yes, shoot SAS shoes as airlines. We were getting all sorts of things people did not know who we were. And when we have a lot of employees that have been here for their entire career and have been here since inception, I think the idea that we needed to brand ourselves as an employer of choice was lost. Some completely flipped on the backside that we need to sell the candidates. We need to be active and engaged and we need to be present and we need to be you know, investing on, in our outreach.

Kayla Woitkowski: 14:40
And so we completely flipped our model instead of what you would call traditionally in the recruiting world, maybe a post and pray where you post a job and pray you to get this out in. We had to our entire, I profess to be more strategic to pick schools that made sense for us to have a plan of how we approached the talent on our camp. On our campuses and I make sure that we had brand recognition and a brand that made sense for our target population. You know, we have paid for daycare here at SAS. We have some so many wonderful benefits, not what this generation cares about, but we do have fantastic programs that help with the young professional network to help build the community of these individuals. We have work that is meaningful. So we had to do a lot of work and understanding what is our value proposition and how can we make sure what we're sharing to the candidates aligns with what they're seeking.

Kayla Woitkowski: 15:37
So while we didn't create these massive benefits shifts than changes in program, what we did is we pulled out the areas of our benefits that made sense for this population and we made sure that we have the right marketing materials, handouts, campaigns, and luckily we have fantastic partners here within SAS that help us in our HR communications and marketing teams that help us build and of what is this messaging so that, you know, our go to market strategy in recruiting these students actually aligns with their desires. And Luckily we had a lot of things in place that does, I'm kind of line up with what this generation was seeking.

Amanda Hammett: 16:13
You know, I'm really glad that you brought that up because the sec actually segues into your data for good initiative that I want to really talk about and talk about as not only a selling point but obviously, it's doing a lot of good around the world. But actually, why don't you take this one?

Kayla Woitkowski: 16:32
Okay. I will do my best. You heard it from the expert at the conference that you were at. So there was no way I will do it, the amount of justice that that Isa would, but. Really at Sas, we are using our analytics products in ways that are really helping humanity and we've been doing this since we were founded in 1976. There's nothing new to what we're doing. Our products are being used to, you know, help, rescue endangered species and track them and make sure that we can't proactive plans so that endangered species are being protected. We have different plans and all across the country that is helping with human trafficking and tracking the incidences and seeing if there are any trends so that we can combat human trafficking in the future. We have different ways that we're helping police forces. I have the right data in place so that if you end up, you know, arresting somebody or pulling them over on the side of the road instead of letting them go connecting databases so that all of the other data sources that could say, no, this person actually needs to be behind bars.

Kayla Woitkowski: 17:43
So that person actually gets to be behind bars and really helping the safety, our communities. And I say that we've been doing this since 1976 because it really is ingrained in everything that we do is analytics. Data analytics is really the power and the driver of a lot of the change that the world needs. See now and in the future. And all we've done is we've started to tell all these stories and we started to tell these stories in a more clear, concise and direct way that we find that we can talk about the ways that we're helping some of the largest banks in the world, you know, fight fraud and look at risk analysis situations. But when we tell those stories, so when we tell those stories that really do talk about saving the lives, um, individuals or, you know, helping to make the world a better place.

Kayla Woitkowski: 18:43
Yes. That not only does that help people wants to use our products more, but more than anything, when you think about recruiting, that's why I love working here is I know that the work that I'm doing, I'm hiring individuals that are working on this meaningful work to make the world a better place. That helps everybody see the bigger picture as to what they're doing. So, you know, the state of for good initiative it's a, it's a campaign but it's a campaign who bring together the stories of what we've always and doing and just being a little bit more intentional about telling all of the ways that our products are doing amazing things around the world.

Amanda Hammett: 19:23
So I will put in the show notes, links to some of the videos that are online that are showcasing the data for good initiative and some of the work that you guys have been doing. But I will tell you from my own personal experience this was my first introduction to what you guys were doing and these videos gave me chill bumps. I mean, whether it was working with the Red Cross during the earthquake in Nepal and how to get resources to help these people and save lives and, and, and continue to help them move further along, down the path that they needed to go so that they could get out of that immediate dangerous situation. It was just you guys pulling together what you already have and just giving it, Hey, red cross, here you go, let me, let me do this for you. And I feel like that's really what humanity incorporation should be doing together is just helping people. What can we use, what we're already doing to help humanity?

Kayla Woitkowski: 20:20
Absolutely. I'd love to tell a quick story that I ended up showcasing or not, but this was one of the first exposures to data forgot that I ended up seeing in working at SAS and now that I'm expecting my own child, even more, Howard Hughes Story. But we have a video internally obviously if it's external too if so I'll send it to you to include in those links. But in short, we actually had an employee who got in front of all the software to tell the story on how she was pregnant with her very first child and she went for her 20-week ultrasound, which is typically where you find out if it's a girl or if it's a boy. And at that ultrasound found out that her child had actually had a stroke, while she was in gestation. So, you know, you can only imagine all the the panic and fear that comes to you as a parent and thinking I was just going to find out the gender and now I have this information that I have, I don't know what to do with.

Kayla Woitkowski: 21:18
And she goes down to tell this story about how, you know, immediately she started testing and got the results when she got the results in the form of lab reports, the lab reports for Britain in SAS, that's programming codes. So this was at Baylor a hospital. Baylor is one of the SAS users. And what these results told her was her plan of what she needed to do immediately. And then day one, once the child was born to ensure that the child was going to be able to take her very first steps. And in the video, she again is onstage in front of all the software developers and she goes on to then have her daughter walk on stage and you know, perfectly happy and healthy and um, you know, you just, you watch this and she's, she's telling the developers that the work that they do matters.

Kayla Woitkowski: 22:13
And if it wasn't for this work that she was doing that she doesn't know if her child would've ever been able to take their very first steps. And I'm, the only reason I can get through it without tiers is that I've seen the video now hundreds of times. But, yeah, it's, that's meaningful work that is working, you know, the software developers every day can think that they're just creating a program or that they're just writing some scripts, but the work that they were doing, I saved this child's future. One of our very own employees. So again, just a matter of finding those stories and telling those stories and making people understand and see the wine, the impact has been what has been so fantastic about this whole kind of data for good initiative. If you will. That's powerful.

Amanda Hammett: 23:03
I mean, I don't even, I think that if everybody could make that tie into what they do, I think that the world would work in a very different way in the workplace would be a very different place to be. But that is so incredibly touching. I mean, I bet every software developer had new fire lit after that.

Kayla Woitkowski: 23:25
Absolutely. How could you not want to work harder when you know that that is the work that you're contributing to?

Amanda Hammett: 23:31
And that is just one story, probably millions that they have a touch that they don't, they're not aware of.

Kayla Woitkowski: 23:38

Amanda Hammett: 23:39
Okay. Well, let's switch gears before I cry. No, that was a beautiful story and thank you so much for sharing it and that's, that's looking for, um, all right. But again, no go crying, today man. So let's talk a little bit about if a company was looking to start a university recruiting program from scratch. They have nothing much like what you had what advice would you give them and what are some foundational things, pieces that you think that they need?

Kayla Woitkowski: 24:14
Absolutely. And there are, there are some critical components in order to do it right. I would say first executive buy-in is key and it really needs to start from the top. And the reason why that's important is one, you need to think very differently about how you workforce plan in terms of headcount. And this can be very challenging for a lot of corporations. So traditionally for recruitment, you have somebody vacate a role or you identify a business need kind of point in time and then you kind of filled that need. Now some organizations are a little bit more strategic and proactive, but I'll say for probably about 90% of organizations, that's just reality of how you function in order to do university recruiting, right? You have a window of opportunity, especially if you're recruiting for business talent. If you're recruiting for computer science, talent analytics, talent, talent right now where the market is extremely hot and these students have opportunities, a lot of the big four accounting firms, the big things that are really the ones that have moved the needle to a point where students are seeking jobs.

Kayla Woitkowski: 25:17
A lot of times, well in advance, at least the semester before they graduate and that period of time from about September to November prior to graduation. So these are even for those graduating in May, September 10th, November is when students are receiving job offers and when they're accepting job offers. And if you aren't effectively able to plan ahead with your needs and you're not recruiting enough period of time, you are missing out. University recruiting is extremely different in that if you think about it, these students, I think the most recent article I read from USA Today said every computer science student, there's going to be 10 vacant openings for every one computer science student. There's and opportunities that are available for them too. Consider, so how do you make yourself stand out? How, how are you going to be the one in 10 that they select? And especially when you're going up against large consumer brands and you know, not everybody has the right brand recognition as some brains better just kind of in front of students every single day.

Kayla Woitkowski: 26:25
So if you're not, they're at the right period of time and you're not there with the right value proposition for students, you're going to miss out. So it takes pre-planning, it takes executive buy-in, it takes working on the headcount planning in advance. It takes being able to make offers in that period of time and really having a strong employer brand and knowing what is true to you and being able to articulate that to students. So when they are looking at their 10 opportunities in front of them, they genuinely and authentically know what makes your organization unique. And I want to put an emphasis on the word authentically. You know, it's okay if your environment isn't the type that has ping pong tables and pool tables and you know, all of these things that, you know, startups are able to offer. Some of the large tech employers are able to offer it.

Kayla Woitkowski: 27:15
That's okay. And what you have to offer you have to think about what makes you authentically unique and different and then finding the students that truly want what you have to offer. So that's a big piece. Make sure your intern program is solid. I think that is kind of step one. Your intern program is an exceptional way to recruit talent early, keep them engaged and give them an opportunity to get exposure to your culture, to wow them. To really have programming that makes them say that was such a great experience that I don't want to consider other employers. And the great thing is you can have interned as early as we hired them in high school, so we start engaging them before they even go to college. Yeah. And we do find that some of our high school interns stay with us from, you know, their senior year of high school through all four years of college and then they come to our full time and that doesn't even give other employers the opportunity to engage and recruit them.

Kayla Woitkowski: 28:12
So make sure that the intern program is solid. I do want to go back to kind of that outreach component. So how you're actually engaging students on a university campus. So it is so critical. And you know, one thing that I think is a misconception is we're in this era of digital transformation. I feel like you hear it all the time. How are you online? How you present online social media. This Gen z is so connected, they're the connected generation. How are you getting in front of them in the ways that they, they want to genuinely, the right way to get in front of students is still very traditional. To be present on a university campus. Nothing goes further than a handshake to meeting some study face to face, to providing mentorship opportunities to really truly engage students. And you can't do that at 4,500 universities across the United States.

Kayla Woitkowski: 29:10
I think there's 4,500-degree granting institutions across the United States. So pick which schools make sense for you and then go deep, you know, be the employer of choice on that campus because you're there multiple times a semester, you're ascending alumni, you're sending people that are going to represent your culture well and give that face to face connection. It goes a very long way. So I would say those are kind of the key baseline components to be thinking about is what is your outreach strategy? What is your messaging? How is your intern program being and are your executives and is your workforce planning type to a point that you're going to be able to execute when you're building this plan?

Amanda Hammett: 29:49
That's really super solid. I mean that's, I feel like something that someone could easily take and say, okay, we're starting from scratch. We have nothing but this is something we'd like to tackle. But what I thought was most interesting and I think that was most people are going to latch onto is that last piece about the outreach, the in person face to face. And it is so important. Yes, they're very technologically savvy. Yes, they are in their phones all the time. But face to face, human being to human being connection is where it's at. I mean we are hardwired that way. We create that in a neurobiological sense. And if you're just depending on students to read about you on your website or check out your social media presence, that's not getting the job done. That's part of it. And they will definitely check that out probably before you come on campus. But if you're not there face to face and like really impacting them in that way don't wish that...

Kayla Woitkowski: 30:49
Other employers are. And that's what it boils down to. And that's what makes university recruiting so unique is that you know, these students are looking for a job post-graduation and less if they're taking a gap year or something to that effect. They're looking for a job and they have every industry as an option. They have every organization as an option, hundreds and hundreds. You know if your company doesn't have a very profound and unique brand, they're not going and checking your website. You need to be in front of them. So how are you actively engaging? How are you present? How are you in the classroom? How are you at career fairs? How are you doing tech talks, how are you? We'll do interesting things like we'll go into the big open area on a university campus and host a yoga class and then we'll just have our signage there and we'll have students doing yoga on behalf of Sas because you know, health and wellbeing are so important to us as an organization.

Kayla Woitkowski: 31:43
And then that creates a buzz of diverse students in a downward dog over there on the half of Sas. And how are you being creative? How are you approaching students in a very different way?

Amanda Hammett: 31:54
That's excellent. I love that idea. I love that you're reaching out to them in that way. I have one question and this is more of a clarifying question for our audience for someone who is looking to start a program from scratch. Um, you said that November or September to November is when you're making offers. These are for students graduating in May. You've got it. What's the start date projected start date on something like that?

Amanda Hammett: 32:18
Typically, you know postgraduation so it depends if it's a semester schedule or a quarter schedule, but I would say anywhere from May 15th through until June 15th you'll find is pretty average. I will say I'm noticing a lot of the big four global accounting firms moving to September start date. Yes. I think some of that is one to law students, the ability to travel there is a big desire for that now and, and go for it. You know, the world is your oyster. That's the only time you were about to start working for the rest of your life. Might as well take that time. But to, you know, academic calendars vary across the globe. So September is a good midpoint so that you can really get people kind of all graduating at once to start dates in September. That's, that's fairly normal as well.

Amanda Hammett: 33:07
Okay, Perfect. Now I have a question for you. You know, doing what I do, I talk a lot to leadership. I talked to recruiting, I talked to basically everybody about millennials and Gen z and this, that and the other. But there is always that whole media buzz around and that discourse around, Oh, they're this or they're that. In your opinion, what are the big differences you saw university recruiting a millennial versus university recruiting a Gen z? I know we're early in Gen z, but still, what are you seeing?

Kayla Woitkowski: 33:46
Great question if you don't mind. I want to kind of talk briefly about the first part of the question just because I'm super passionate about this. So, I very genuinely feel that's generation is only a small component of what makes somebody who they are. And I took a fantastic training early in my career when I was at net app actually that was the generations in the workplace training and the entire train. And you know, the first half of it was yours, and I'm more serious, typical generations in the workplace. Here's what you know, millennials do, here's what baby boomers do, here's what, you know, gen x experienced. And this is how it shapes their views in life. And it was, you know, kind of just educational now right before lunch, but they had us do, was take a quiz and it was all of these characteristics and factors there is about who you are, how you prefer to receive communications.

Kayla Woitkowski: 34:42
It's a lot of good information. After lunch, what they had us do was plot a sticker into different generations with a certain color. The color was what your true generation was. Most people did not put their color in alignment with their true generation. How was the gen x? Even though I am a millennial and I just, I think that the year that you were born is only going to determine a small factor and there's so much more of that makes somebody who they are so and rants. But that's something that I just feel very, very, very passionately about. So I'm transitioning into kind of differences in what I've seen. I'll say it is fascinating being on university campuses right now in this era of, you know, podcasts. And what we're doing right now is you walk around and it's almost sheer silence because everybody has their ear pods are there.

Kayla Woitkowski: 35:33
Airports or your phones in and they're walking around engaging with content when t four seven and everything that they do. And that was not the case. You know, we're hurting 10 years ago on university campuses. Students were having conversations and yes, there was still some texting while walking and things like that. But just the engagement with constantly having inputs, I'm seeing that come through then to once they enter the workforce and the idea of how to keep somebody engaged in the workplace. And you know, I manage a team of seven and I think everybody on the team outside of maybe two or all, you know, either Gen z or millennial and, you know, I walk into the office, opened the door and I do see, you know, they have their air, their earbuds in and multitasking in their work and it's just, it's fascinating.

Kayla Woitkowski: 36:24
So you know, not to completely contradict what I had said earlier, but there is a little piece that makes employers needing to think a little bit more about their digital strategy. Now, you can't be everything, but I think it needs to be in tandem. You know, what's you're an on-campus presence, what is your digital strategy and kind of marrying the two so that you are connecting with those that are always connected. And there's a lot of fascinating tools that are out there in existence now where you can do some of that. Um, I would say also expectations around what they're seeking is way different. And I would say Gen z, the customization era where everything, they want things to be very specific to what they're seeking. I've never seen students have so much of a plan as they do right now.

Kayla Woitkowski: 37:11
You know, they know specifically what company they want to work for, what industry, what type of role because they're trying to customize an experience that is something that they are kind of striving to do. And that makes it more interesting. There's a lot of times where we have to kind of walk students back out of their idea of perfection, you know, walk them back out of, you know, have you thought about something different? Have you thought about, you know a large organization even though you want to go to a startup, have you thought about, you know, the, the pieces of Silicon Valley, high cost of living, you know, and helping kind of walk them back through kind of rationalizing through their desires for a job. We spend a lot of time with Gen z kind of explaining some of those things where I can't say that we didn't have to do with that with millennials, but we, we certainly have to do that a little bit more. So, um, those are some of the things that I'm seeing. The honestly, I don't see wild major differences between the two other than that connectivity. But in short, that meaningful work component was really important for millennials. Even more important for Gen Z. And making sure companies are authentic and genuine about their value propositions are to the big components I'm seeing.

Amanda Hammett: 38:29
I agree wholeheartedly. Okay. So when you are out there on campuses and you are, you know, recruiting and you're looking at students, how do you identify someone who is a rock star or who has the potential to be a rock star? What shows up for you?

Kayla Woitkowski: 38:46
Yeah, this is another thing. Gosh, you're asking all the questions that I just get excited with passion. Well, we talk about as a team here at SAS is a passion, attitude, and aptitude. When we're looking at students, a lot of times managers are saying they need to have this specific gill. They need to be specialized in open source programming. But then you take a step back and you say, students, what is going to allow them to succeed? Passion, attitude and aptitude. So passion. Are they passionate about the SAS mission? Are they passionate about what we do? Analytics, are they passionate about a thing? You know, you have all experienced those individuals that you meet that you're like, okay, oh right, I can't pull anything out of you. What excites you? Where are you passionate? So looking at that, that passion, the right attitude, willingness to learn, willingness to be coached.

Kayla Woitkowski: 39:43
Oh really? That genuine innate curiosity where they're asking more questions and listening more than they are wanting to share or tell or say what they know. That is a big piece of it as well. And the attitude glass half full can do attitude taking initiative, all of those pieces, all compromise attitude and an aptitude. Aptitude is, yes, maybe a certain set of skills, but we do look for past performance. We do look at how they performed in college. You know, I do think that if they have been involved in student organizations, they're well rounded, they're contributing back to their university. That means that they would come to SAS and hopefully want to contribute, do our culture and our ecosystem just as much as they are at the university and aptitude as well as obviously intellectual aptitude. So all of our interviews here at SAS have what we call a role-based activity where we actually do give them a component of what we'd expect them to do in the job and just see how they do. Instead of just asking behavioral based questions, how would you do something? Actually making them show that they can, they have the aptitude and ability to do the work. So passion, attitude, attitude is what we look at.

Amanda Hammett: 40:59
That's awesome. Okay, so let's talk to our younger audience for just a second. You have a college student and if you could talk to all the college students in the world today and you would give them some advice about how to find the right fit for them. It may not be SAS, it may be somebody else, but what? What do they need to be looking at? What do they need to be focusing on to find that right fit?

Kayla Woitkowski: 41:20
A couple of things and that's a daunting thing. It's so daunting we, it goes back to every industry, every company culture, every job that's out. How do you know what's right for you? A couple of things. One knows your big three. I had a professor back in college who when I was looking at different job opportunities, said Kayla, there are many components of the job and he actually gave us a list of all the students a list who's going to be your manager location. Hey, benefits work culture, working hours. There are a lot of aspects of a job. Do an inventory. What are all those various aspects of the job? And then what are your big three? What are the three things that matter most to you? And if you don't know, because maybe you haven't had an internship or maybe you haven't had the right conversations just yet.

Kayla Woitkowski: 42:16
Find mentors by mentors who are currently in jobs, who can tell you, Here's how working for a bad manager can impact your every single day. Here's how working for an organization that's a very cut throat. We're very lenient and relax. Here's how that could impact how you enjoy your job. Hey, and just work through those and talks to people and figure out what are the three most important criteria. If you want to be super analytical, wait for them, go down the list and actually do a numerical weighting based on what is most important to you. So that one, these job opportunities are flying at you and you're trying to evaluate, you have some sort of criteria to make a decision that's more than just a gut feeling and it's backed by some truth that you have first discovered within yourself. You've made that realization, here is what I want a job, this job matches up, this one doesn't.

Kayla Woitkowski: 43:14
And then it helps you evaluate a little bit more effectively. But I can't emphasize enough the importance of mentors. It was a mentor that helped me switch my major from accounting to HR. Thank God I married an accountant and I could not do what he does every day. So all you accountants out there, I am very impressed by all that you do. It was a mentor that helped steer me into university recruiting. It was a mentor that brought me over to Sas and it was a mentor that just recently helps me decide how I'm going to get a plan. And what I'm gonna do is I'm having my very first child. So mentors can help you through every aspect of your career, get to know you better than you know yourself and maybe make some of these decisions a little bit easier for you as well. Absolutely.

Amanda Hammett: 43:56
Well, I can't think of anything more wonderful to end on than that right there. So thank you so much for being on the show.

Kayla Woitkowski: 44:04
You're very welcome. Thank you, Amanda.

Amanda Hammett: 44:06
All right, everybody tunes in for next week's episode. We've got another fantastic guest. See you then.

Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the next generation stars where we have discussed all recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rocks star leader and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the next generation rock stars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.