When the student becomes the teacher: Take advantage of Gen Y’s power


Never before have our elders and superiors had to educate themselves on so many new business methods and practices in order to stay relevant, savvy and – most of all – profitable. Meanwhile, we are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow, but we’ve already started to lead today by learning how to use these new methods in our spare time.

Every facet of the business world – whether corporate, creative or industrial – has had to re-shape itself because of the fast rate at which business practices are changing. The web is running the show and those above you are scrambling to gain the skills they need to work in this “new” medium. The Internet may have been around for your entire life but, for many people in the workforce, it’s an aspect of our culture they may never understand.

You will most likely be called upon to shed some light on how your employers can maximize their skills with something like the web. This is your time to shine, your time to show them that this new digital world isn’t so bad, and that it can really help sustain, strengthen and secure their business practices. For you, it’s a moment of the student teaching the teacher and, if executed well, it’ll be something your employer will remember.

Here are some quick tips for you to remember if you ever get called upon to tutor your employer or co-workers in the ways of the web:

Take it slow

The rate at which we, people in our late teens and early 20s, can process new information is a lot faster than people 15-30 years older than us. That’s not fact – I’ve just noticed it from experience. A place like the web can be confusing and hard to grasp if you haven’t grown up using it on a day-to-day basis. When you’re giving your “student” a quick lesson, take your time. The person you’re teaching will have plenty of questions and want to go at their own pace. Rushing through the process will only make things harder for both of you.

Pretend they are from 1852, or something

That’s right. Pretend you’re explaining this to someone from far back in time. I don’t mean dumb it down and treat them like an idiot, but you should teach each process to them as if they have never heard of it before. It doesn’t have to be a history lesson on the progress of social media, but you can give a quick glimpse into what something like Twitter is used for and why it’s popular.

Common sense trumps all

My father has always said, “You can have four or five degrees sitting behind you desk, but you’re nothing if you don’t have common sense.” It’s true. These days a regular bachelor’s degree isn’t enough (so they say), and our generation is piling on the credentials to make ourselves look better – on paper at least. I don’t care how many degrees or certificates you have: common sense trumps all. If you can’t use common logic there’s no point hiding behind all your fancy paper.

Don’t be a dick

This goes hand in hand with common sense. Never ever be condescending to the person you’re teaching. It’s a bad reflection of your personality and it’s degrading to the person you’re teaching, especially if it’s the person who hired you. Be courteous and patient, as you would expect anyone teaching you to be.

If you show your employer and co-workers you have expertise and initiative, the door will open and you will become the go-to person for help. It’s a great way to show off your skill set (be modest) and it’s not a hole in the wallet for your employer! It shows their investment in you is paying off.