Talk about Millennials has been the rage for a few years now and for good reason. In fact, just four months ago, I blogged about the impact of Millennials.

Gen ZBelieve it or not, the Z generation (also known as iGen) is almost here. Although there is some debate about what year began the span of this generation, the general consensus is the mid-1990s. In other words, the first group of Gen Zers will be entering the workforce this year.

That’s important to know for potential employers of this spring’s accounting graduates. Gen Zers are thought to be very different from Millennials based on how they were raised and what they’ve experienced during their early life.

This generation numbers 23 million. While that may pale in comparison to the largest-ever generation of 75 million Millennials, Gen Z will soon become the fastest growing generation in the workforce. So now’s a good time to begin to learn and understand what this generation is all about.

According to The Center for Generational Kinetics, some of the characteristics that define Gen Zers include being self-aware, self-reliant, innovative, goal-oriented and pragmatic. I think most would agree those are all characteristics that fit in well with desired traits of the CPA of the future.

So what does Gen Z care most about? Their smartphones and social media to name two as you might have guessed. The Center believes, a preference and reliance on mobile and online interactions will have a major impact on how they learn and how they solve problems. That would seem to be a perfect fit for the CPA Center of Excellence® with its competency-based courses and online community that can be easily accessed from mobile devices.

Gen Zers are also viewed to be highly educated (both formally and informally through their own research), and have a strong desire to make a positive impact on the world – perhaps on either society or the environment.

I’ve recently been interviewing candidates (all Gen Zers) for an internship here at the Society office. One thing I’ve found is that they’ve all been passionate about ethics. This has been brought up by them, and it was something that interested them in working for the Society. Although the internship is for communications and not accounting, I’m guessing this is a common theme among college students.

They talked about being impressed with the CPA profession’s commitment to ethics. And their own studies in communications ethics. It was abundantly clear that ethical behavior by professionals is important to them as they prepare to begin their careers.

Another subject that came up often was how important community service was to them. Again, most of the students mentioned this both in terms of what they found attractive about the CPA profession, as well as some of their own volunteer activities while in school.

I’d say the CPA profession (and other professions) are in good hands with the arrival of Generation Z. With the characteristics these soon-to-be professionals exhibit combined with the value they place on integrity, competency and serving others, the future is bright.