Centennials. iGen. The Founders.

Any name you choose, the generation following millennials remains a mystery to those who will end up being their bosses.

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But the oldest segment of Generation Z — somewhere in the age range of 17 to 21 years old — is hitting the workforce in the fashion of full-time employment and internships. Businesses and trend followers hope to get a better feel for what they're all about.

"We don't fully know their generational essence," said James Hughes, an economist and demographer at Rutgers University. "We don't have a good handle on them yet because we don't have much experience dealing with them."

Hughes said the post-millennial generation has been examined in several marketing studies, but they have not been the subject of true academic research.

"You can say they're a connected generation. More than any other generation, their smartphone is their tie to everything else. They're certainly technologically savvy, even more so than millennials," Hughes said.

Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said employers are using this time to "gather data" on Gen Z, attempting to better understand their skills sets, preferences and how they interact in the workplace.

"This next generation behind the millennials was beginning to come of age right around the time of the recession, seeing the pain-staking impact that that was having on their families," Siekerka said.

For that reason, she said, Generation Z may take a page from millennials and follow their passions, rather than chase the dollar, when landing on a career.

"They're going to be even more mission-driven than we've seen before," Siekerka said.

According to Siekerka, there's "a lot of disruption" in the workplace today as companies attempt to adjust

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.