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Honors College students present their findings and recommendations to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and his staff. (Boston, Colleen Locke)
January 22, 2017

UMass Boston Honors College and MBA Students Advise Mayor Walsh on Bringing Millennials to City Hall


  • Boston
Undergraduate and Graduate Teams Present Findings of Fall Semester Research to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh

For the third year in a row, students in UMass Boston’s Honors College tackled a project for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. The fall semester’s assignment: attracting millennials to jobs in Boston, specifically City Hall.

Associate Professor of Management Pacey Foster, who taught the Mayor’s Symposium honors course, also had his MBA students tackle the same topic. The student teams presented their findings to the mayor over the winter break.

Andrew Nguyen, an MBA student from Boston, and his Organizational Analysis and Skills classmates surveyed 120 millennials in Boston, asking college students and millennials what was most important to them in a job. They also looked at national survey results. He said a work-life balance with flexible hours was the most important, along with salary, career ladders, and mentorship opportunities.

“We’re asking for a leadership program, a mentorship program where we’re able to work with someone higher up to groom us to take on more responsibility to become better leaders and things like that. Millennials, we have a tendency to be perfectionists, so we don’t want to fail. We want to not just be thrown into the fire but to be helped and coached along,” Nguyen said.  

MacKenzie Patterson, a junior biochemistry major from East Bridgewater, and her team found a lot of the same things that Nguyen’s group did. Patterson’s group recommended a restructuring of job titles.

“The way HR puts the job descriptions, people have a job title, and then they have a ghost job title,” Patterson said. “Making the job descriptions easier to navigate would make it a lot easier for millennials to find jobs to apply for.”

Matthew Quattrucci, a senior economics major in the Honors College, and his group focused on community engagement. They studied nonprofits that use social media as a lower-cost way to attract millennials, and then looked at the city’s social media channels and website. Quattrucci says his team found the city’s social media use to be inconsistent, and recommended that the city hire an intern to manage a central social media account for them.

“Through social media, you can tell a story of what the City of Boston does, what City Hall does, and what they can do for their city and how they can improve those around them,” Quattrucci said.

In fall 2015, Honors College students came up with ideas on how to market the city to companies and international guests. In fall 2014, students created plans to revitalize Dorchester’s Strand Theatre.