Learning from children and pupils

What companies can learn from students

Stephanie Guardian

“We are curious and do not shy away from risk.” (Source: Tina Floersch)

Nine things companies can learn from students, written by a student.

What pupils have in store for adults

What do you think when we compare an entrepreneur with a student? I’m sure most people think of stereotypes first: On the one hand, the clever and experienced employee of a successful company who reacts to every problem with a cool head and a well thought-out solution. On the other hand, the inexperienced, naive student who has had little contact with the world of work up to now.

May be that’s even true. During an internship at a company that sells mobile phones over the internet, I noticed some other differences. There are some special characteristics that we students have ahead of adults – and which they are happy to learn from us in return.

1. We are not afraid to ask questions

Whoever has younger siblings – or children – certainly knows that: Questions are asked in all possible and impossible situations, but strictly speaking they are not so stupid. During my internship it was no different. I also constantly asked questions when something was unclear to me or when I needed help. Often we talk about the most basic processes – without being aware of it. “Wouldn’t it be easier if we…” will sooner or later come over each of us lips. And who knows, maybe our ideas will really change something.

2. We’re the Digital Natives

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and their respective functions we can pray down in our sleep. After all, we grew up more or less with it. We know what’s trendy and which postings go down particularly well with our friends. Even if it doesn’t seem that way at the moment, that’s valuable knowledge! Because many companies hardly use social networks and are urgently dependent on help. And who better to explain and advise than us?

3. We are curious and do not shy any risk

Often we want to know it exactly and then hardly anything stops us from finding out. How do I know the new actor on “Berlin – Day & Night”? Which tram is the best way to get to the main station? And where can the new sports shoes be bought even cheaper? This natural curiosity is extremely important at work, as is our willingness to take risks. “Just try it out” is almost our motto in life and should also be considered by the great bosses of this world more often than not.

4. We work concentrated without “multitasking”

By the way, current brain research provides the proof that no human can multitask. That is simply nonsense. Admittedly, I am also often distracted by WhatsApp or Facebook. But once the smartphone is put out of hand, I concentrate on one task until it is finished. After all, we haven’t done anything else at school for years. But many employees in a company can’t do that anymore. They get a cup of coffee here and check their e-mails and chat with other colleagues in the corridor. That’s why it’s better to finish a task, take a break and then concentrate on something new.

5. We don’t mince our words

“Yes, yes, the youth of today”, I think sarcastically every time a grandma in the train complains about our “cheeky behaviour”. That is the key to success in the working world! Of course we should not extend our elbows and provoke wherever we can. But a somewhat loose tongue gives us authenticity and shows that we had “cojones”. We should also remember: the sound makes the music. Instead of laboriously swallowing a perfectly appropriate criticism, it is more beneficial for the entire company to occasionally express what is depressing for us and concerns the entire company.

6. We look beyond the rim of our plate

Fantasy and creativity are often said to be the case, especially for young children. But also we still own a lot of them. This can be seen in how we design our room, how we make our bicycles look nice or whether we try something while baking that is not in the cookbook. Ultimately, it’s our imagination that makes us find book adaptations, for example, consistently bad. And this characteristic is in demand in many industries. New ideas just bubble out of us, while experienced colleagues sit next to us in silence. We see possibilities that others have not yet thought of and thus secure the recognition of many bosses.

7. We can integrate into teams super

Teamwork is not a challenge for us, but a nice change. We usually prefer searching for ideas together rather than sitting alone in a quiet room. What is so self-evident for us, however, presents quite a few employees in companies with major problems. Be it because they are too proud to tolerate other opinions or too shy to prove themselves in front of the “big animals”. In any case, the open discussions we strive for often leave something to be desired. We (or at least those of us who do not shy away from larger rounds) openly express our opinion (see point 5) and add our mustard without interrupting or hurting others. Thanks to the thousands and thousands of group work at school!

8. We approach new tasks unbiased

If we are given a new task, we may be a little sceptical, but rarely biased. After all, a lot is new territory for us and we try to make the best of it. Although we don’t know anything about Excel, we like to be shown what to do – or just google it. After all, we’ve already dealt with a lot of other things. This objectivity also helps us to approach things without prejudice. This is a trait that many have unfortunately forgotten over the years.

9. We have an almost limitless optimism

Although we often enough believe that the world will end, it has not happened yet. And this knowledge secretly helps us to deal with problems. What others probably classify as naivety is a nice mechanism that prevents us from seeing not only the bad in the world. Surely we also like to complain about the weather – somehow it is part of our German mentality. But for us to find something really sh… a lot must have happened. Although many adults can successfully deal with problems, they are often the ones who would benefit from a more positive attitude and charisma and who can take ours as their role model.