First off, I hate that word. “Millennial” has come to be a derogatory phrase. And that is exactly what sparked this post.
This past weekend while running the Blue Ridge Half Marathon, I overheard a conversation a group of middle-aged men were having. They were talking about their work week had gone and one piped up and said, “I went to a conference on Millennials. They’re all just awful. They don’t want to work for anything- they’re so entitled. They want a 4 year management position in 2.”
I stewed over what they had said for the next few miles. I had recently read an article by Adweek that touched on similar viewpoints of those older than us. True, there are some people in my generation who fit the millennial stereotype to a T. However, there are also plenty of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers who could be considered “entitled. There will definitely be even more member of Generation Z who will fill it.
But millennials are a different breed. We don’t fit the mold that Boomers and Gen X made for us.
They call us entitled. We want the management position in 2 years. But, their work world shuts down when they clock out. If they get an email at 5:05, it can wait until the next day. But a millennial? Our work and life are co-mingled thanks to our digitally native state. We live on our phones, ready to solve any problem that comes our way, even if it happens at 10 on a Saturday. We want people to notice that we work hard and don’t stop. We’ve seen our peers rise to that position in 2 years, because of their hard work. If a company is not recognizing us for what we are worth, we are more than happy to move on.
They say we are a generation of instant gratification. We are used to fast downloads, instant messaging, and buying things at the click of a button (thanks, Amazon). But, this also works in reverse. You want something done? We’ll have it to you by the end of the day, color coded.
They say we don’t want to work for anything. Most of us just finished working for our degrees, and we aren’t planning on stopping anytime soon. Some of us want to get that grad degree, and are willing to work for peanuts to get free tuition. Some of us want to land a dream job in a few years and have taken the first opportunity in our field in order to get the required 3-5 years of experience. They see us as working at the bottom, but we see it as a means to the top.
They say we are sensitive due to the “participation trophy” culture we grew up in. But, we are also the generation that invented cyberbulling and YouTube comments. We have a tougher skin than you think. We know how to take criticism, constructive or not, and turn it into something even better.
Millennials are the future leaders of America. We are the generation that was told we had no limits to what we could be, while witnessing the most rapid growth of technology in history. Our brains have formed differently than past generations, making us slightly threatening to those born before the technology boom. We have been molded and shaped by the internet into exactly the collaborators the world needs. We see the value in sharing information to work toward a common goal.
Millennials are not entitled. We are empowered.
I am a 23 year old, college graduate, married, dog mom, home owner, 2 time marathoner, 13 time half marathoner, current grad student with a full-time job that I love. Don’t tell me I don’t want to work for anything.