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Talking with Gen Y

This story accompanies Head of the Class.

Monday, February 1, 2010
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During the roundtable discussion with a group of seniors at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Senior Editor Andrew R. McIlvaine asked them whether their job search requirements include an emphasis on the organization's charitable and philanthropic activities.

Participating in this part of the discussion were Tanvi Goel, Neil Modi, Andrew Stern and Carlotta Siniscalco.

Here is that segment of the Q&A with the students:

HRE: Would you reject a job offer or even avoid looking for a job at a company that you thought was insufficiently involved in the local community?

Carlotta Siniscalco: Well, I have an interesting experience because last summer I was actually working for a charity in Africa, and the summer before I was doing banking.

HRE: Now, this was in Kenya?

Siniscalco: Exactly. So, the way I see it is that the charity, the philanthropic involvement of an organization is not necessarily linked to the positive impact that it has in the world. I believe that the best that a for-profit company can do is to do its task, do its job and do it well, and take care of its employees.

Charity -- that's something that charitable associations know well how to do and should do. So I like to see them separate. I would never turn down a job offer because I felt that a company wasn't involved enough in the community. Of course, it has to not hurt the community, but whether it does charitable activities -- by no means should it be a deal-breaker.

Andrew Stern: Ideally, yes, I'd like to work at a company that's involved in community activities. But what's especially important is that I would want it to be employee-driven or culture-driven.

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Tanvi Goel: I think another thing that's really important is that, a lot of times, it's top down. And certain companies or certain branches of the company just feel compelled to do something. And then you go visit the company and they don't really seem to know much about that project.

Like Carlotta said, it's not a deal-breaker, but if something like that happens, where they're saying they do something and they're really involved in the community, but they may not be or you have your doubts, I think that may work a little bit against them.

Neil Modi: I would agree with that. It goes back to the point I made about genuineness. If you're using it as a marketing ploy to attract people who are interested in community involvement, and in reality no one at the company seems to give two cents about it, then what does that say about the company? I would definitely be kind of like, "What are you trying to pull on me?"

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