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Millennials and Email – The Voices (Part 2)

Welcome to the second segment of our spotlight on millennials and email. In Issue 4, 2015, we shared both statistics and stories that demonstrate clearly that, contrary to the hype and stereotypes, millennials not only use email in school, at work and in their personal lives – they value it. Here are the perspectives of four additional young adults, gathered from in-person interview discussions in late 2015, illuminating how email helps them connect and succeed and how they view email with regard to newer social media.

Nicolo Costanzo, Undergraduate Math and Statistics Student

"Email is definitely not going to go anywhere. It's the new version of letters, moved on to an electronic form, and we'll keep email more for formal things."

Nicolo Costanzo

Early email experiences:

"I got my first email address when I was 14 – Hotmail to chat with friends from school, then expanded to MSN Messenger. At 17, I was applying for internships using email and then phone follow up. I also used email for blogs, school info and concert announcements. There was spam all the time, but it didn't put me off. I learned to ignore or delete it.

For me, email became a lot more professional in college. I started using Facebook for communicating with friends and family. And for school stuff, jobs and travel, I used email. I also used it for keeping in touch with the older generation. Email is very helpful for things like career fairs, math department gatherings and meetings.

One thing I learned from a previous internship, I was emailing informally, as if I was chatting and started getting a negative response, so I try to keep email more professional."

Thoughts on email vs. newer social channels:

"Facebook and email are both personal and professional, but Facebook is less professional than email."

Vincent Do, Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Student, Class of 2016

"There's nothing that exists yet that can replace email. So for me, it's very useful."

Vincent Do

Early email experiences:

"My first email experience was signing up when I was about 8 for Yahoo! Messenger in Vietnam. I was very excited. I had to go to my email address to get the confirmation email, and that's the first time I used it.

Two years later, I used it as a way to communicate with my family in the U.S. And we could send pictures too.

When I came to the United States at 13 and graduated from high school, I received emails from university recruiters. That's when I really started using email.

When I first came to the University of Maryland, I was assigned a university email address, but I connected that to my existing email account.

With email lists, at first it's pretty exciting because I get the info on different things like career fairs, but sometimes I delete them if it's too much. The ones that have subject headings that stand out are the ones I open – usually these are career opportunities, email from professors, and sales."

Thoughts on email vs. newer social channels:

"I use email mostly on my phone. In engineering, we do a lot of projects, so we have to communicate. Sometimes we use Facebook for messaging, but for important documents, we use email. And we CC our professors ... and most professors don't use Facebook."

Baker Suliman, M.S. Systems Engineering, Class of 2015

"Email is the standard communication channel in the professional world. Email cannot be replaced in my opinion."

Baker Suliman

Early email experiences:

"I signed up for a Yahoo! email account with friends at 13 – that was in 2001 in India. I used it for sending and receiving email for events and birthday wishes with my friend group locally. It was difficult because we had to run back home, go on our desktops and check the connection, modem sounds, and wait for the green lights. I never thought in a matter of 5-6 years it would be so different with mobile and high-speed everything.

In the past, email was like regular mail, where people don't expect a reply right away. Now a reply is expected right away. Email and social networking became the same in response time. Still, email keeps on as the same professional thing it was, more than texting and Facebook messaging.

There's a lot of email when you're in a university, and it's annoying if it's not catchy. There are all-school communciations and emails with advisors, colleagues, fellow students. I use email on my tablet, laptop and desktop."

Thoughts on email vs. newer social channels:

"I see text and Facebook as being for friends. For family and invitations, email is more respectful. For my internships, all communication between my team is through email. Younger team members didn't want to use email – they wanted Slack software for team collaboration and communication and upload/download. They wanted immediate chatting, being able to see the green (available) light. This makes the team collaboration more alive across different locations. But email is essential for communications with the outside world, like setting up briefings and updating managers."

Yang Zhang, M.S. Information Systems, Class of 2015

"You can't use social media to contact your professor. Life is life and business is business."

Yang Zhang

Early email experiences:

"I used email in high school to contact friends when I lived in China, and MSN Messenger to keep in touch.

When I did my college applications, I used email to connect with different universities, filling out questionnaires and requesting materials.

I use email for volunteering at museums, for clubs and for academics. I'm on some news lists, and I delete most ads. Other email lists I use are professor list, advisor list, friends, classmates and Google docs lists for projects."

Thoughts on email vs. newer social channels:

"I use Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Facebook is the main social channel, plus Vchat with my Chinese friends. Email is my preferred way – it's best for introducing myself, sending resumes and applying for jobs. Email is what I use every day because it's more formal for professors, bosses and colleagues."

Additional Reading

Millennials and Email – The Voices (Part 1)
LISTSERV at Work - Issue 4, 2015

Millennials and Email – The Numbers
LISTSERV at Work - Issue 4, 2015

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