A new generation of young scientists is bringing fresh perspectives to work. Generation Z, the kids who were born after millennials, is starting to graduate college and launch their careers. It’s about time to extend a warm welcome to Gen Z in the workplace.
Who Is Gen Z?
According to Pew Research, this generation includes people who were born after 1996, which means the oldest Gen Zers are turning 22 this year, while most are still in their teens or younger. They’ve never known a world without the internet. Growing up with mobile connectivity and social media means that this generation can share their ideas anywhere, anytime. Many young scientists are making new discoveries before they’ve even completed their formal education.
Gen Z grew up in a post-9/11 world. Their behavioral traits are shaped by the technology that surrounds them, as well as the difficult issues that occurred during their formative years, such as terrorism, school shootings and the Great Recession. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), these dark events have inspired Gen Z to change the world.
Common Values and Attributes
Although they are just starting to enter adulthood, early research shows that American Gen Zers are pragmatic, money-conscious, entrepreneurial, global, connected and independent.
According to LinkedIn, Generation Z likes to work independently and has mobile connectivity in their bloodstreams. They have excellent online research skills and use several different sources to get their information. They take internet multitasking to a whole new level, using five screens on average. These traits provide an excellent foundation for science.
They’re young and eager to change the world, but they are also practical about the work it takes to make a change.
“Ever since I was a kid (and I think I still am a kid), I have been enthralled by everything space,” says Mark Fisher, a chemist at Northrop Grumman. Fisher graduated from Purdue University in 2018. He started at Northrop Grumman as an intern and was hired as an employee the summer after he finished college.
Fisher adds, “I find no greater challenge and accomplishment than the pursuit and discovery of the unknown, which is what science is all about. I want to be somewhere where I can be a part of mankind’s effort to unravel the mysteries of our universe.”
3 Awesome Young Scientists
This generation is already making a difference in science, even though most of them are still teenagers. Technology is part of their everyday lives, and they’re not just using it to chat with their friends. They use platforms to connect with people around the world and educate them about science.
Amber Yang, Age 19
Researcher Amber Yang developed a program that can predict the future position of space junk with 98 percent accuracy — which is far more accurate than the statistical models developed by NASA, according to Forbes. She created an artificial neural network that can “recognize patterns in how space junk moves and changes orbit.” A practical and entrepreneurial Gen-Zer, she’s commercializing her research with her startup, Seer, while she also attends Stanford University.
Genesis Butler, Age 12
Twelve-year-old Genesis Butler is an animal rights activist. She speaks on platforms such as TedX about animal rights and how our eating habits affect the environment. She told Newsweek, “When you eat animal products, you’re contributing to the suffering of animals and to the problems surrounding animal agriculture and climate change.”
Peyton Robertson, Age 17
Inventor Peyton Robertson created a sandbag to combat seawater flooding and a bike with retractable training wheels. He has patented five inventions, published a paper in the “Journal of Tropical Diseases” and founded a non-profit for STEM education, according to Forbes.
Gen Z in the Workplace
The next generation of young scientists is already inventing new devices, solving real-world problems, and educating the public about science.
These are just a few examples of today’s brilliant young scientists, and they’re just getting started. Fisher explains, “I find that each person I talk to has a unique insight derived from their own experiences that we all can learn from if we keep an open mind. I think that there are a whole lot of brilliant young minds out there that will do incredible things for the world.”