I would like to believe that I am generally a pretty positive person. I try to see the best in people and I respect individual opinions. However, there is one opinion that has really gotten under my skin recently, and I feel like I should share my viewpoint.
I am exhausted of hearing that the millennial generation is lazy, narcissistic, entitled, and doomed. The millennial stereotype is usually inaccurate, and to be frank, unoriginal at this point. It seems that employers and other generations everywhere believe that millennials cannot hold a conversation, they have poor work ethic, they don’t have respect for their elders, etc. In response, I would like to share some millennial truths.
Millennials do have a different work ethic.
Work smarter is the name of the game. We have been raised in a world where multi-tasking is expected and over involvement is the norm. Because of this, we try to work smarter. Our work ethic is strong, but not in the 9-5 traditional way. In a workplace we look for flexibility and work we genuinely enjoy. If that can be provided, millennials will work hard and smart, creating results that are completely different, in a positive way, from those with traditionally strong work ethics. I am 22 years old and in the last two and a half years, I’ve completed six internships while attending school full-time, among other things. I am not different from many people of this generation. If we can find our niche and our employer can offer flexibility, we work hard and smart.
Authority doesn’t intimidate us, but that doesn’t mean we don’t respect authority.
We are a generation taught to always ask questions. We are inquisitive and curious, and in this day and age, people of authority have never been so easily accessible (example: @BarackObama, @BillGates, @Oprah Twitter accessibility). There is something to be said of a person whose confident standing in front of a board room of executives, but still values every single one of their opinions. Please don’t misconstrue our generations comfort with authority as disrespect. I assure you, we understand that people hold authority for a reason.
We aren’t entitled, we are excited.
For some reason, everyone everywhere gives me the same spiel as I prepare to graduate from college: You aren’t going to get your dream job right away. For the record, I am aware and can appreciate the fact that I will not get my dream job right away. In fact, I would be concerned and disappointed if a new graduate was ever offered my dream job. I believe that millennials have been raised in an era where everything is changing and so much is possible. We are seeing the rise of young and powerful entrepreneurs (I’m talking to you, Mark Zuckerberg) and new ways to change the world (TOMS Shoes provides shoes for people in undeveloped countries). Millennials want to be part of this changing society, and we are anxious to do so.
I’ll admit it, our social skills are a bit different.
As a millennial, I am constantly told how my generation is expected to be tech savvy, up to date on digital trends, and well informed. Then, the complaints roll in that our generation is on our phones way too much and we are unable to carry on conversation. Like most of this generation, I am very tech savvy and I check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Buzzfeed, the BBC, CNN, the AP, and the New York Times every day. I would like to point out that checking all of this takes less time than watching the nightly world news. As I said above, it’s about working smarter. Our generation has communication and social skills that the generations before us haven’t even dreamed of by communicating via digital mediums. However, I can still carry on conversation with my co-workers, I call my family at least two times per week, I’d prefer to catch up with friends over dinner, not iMessage, and no, I do not leave my phone on the table. Our generation is evolving, but we aren’t as different as we are made out to be.
We want you to be open-minded and communicate openly.
In true millennial fashion, I would like to ask you to be open minded. I would also like to ask you to communicate openly. I’m certainly not saying that no millennial fits into the millennial stereotype, because some certainly do. If you have millennial employees who you might see as fitting the stereotype, I want to challenge you to take a play from the millennial playbook. Ask them why. Maybe they are looking for more flexibility or respect. Maybe they are looking for something to be excited and passionate about. I can promise that if society can stop lumping all millennials into the same millennial stereotype box, millennials will surprise you and our generation will continue to redefine society.
-Maggie Weldin, PR and Marketing Coordinator