Thursday, January 10, 2008

Millennials Need To Stand Up For Themselves

There is a lot written about the Millennials, that group of young up-and-comers born between 1980 and 1995 now storming the workforce. Their different approach toward work and life is getting a lot of buzz online and in the traditional press, and it isn't always warm and fuzzy. Harvey Mackay's syndicated column covers them this week, 60 Minutes recently piped in on the subject, and bloggers like Penelope Trunk have made a career out of showing us the differences between the Millennials and other generations.

They are portrayed by some as having an evolved level of social consciousness (apparently much better than the baby boomers and generation X if you listen to their ranks), and vilified by others for the fact that more than half live with mom and dad after college, allowing them to avoid taking on all the hard knock responsibilities of being a grown up. Most of the attention goes to how they will not "pay their dues" in the workforce, favoring instead their friends and family - only wanting jobs on their terms. Some accuse them of being pampered and lazy while others grant the whole generation sainthood.

I say phooey. YES, PHOOEY. Not a word that bloggers use in that many posts...but I'll say it again...PHOOEY! There are more important similarities between people of all generations than differences, but those similarities do not keep demographers in business!

Look back at the baby boomers when they entered the work force and what was said about them in the press and all over the internet (okay, there was no internet in the 1960s and 1970s...I wanted to see if you were paying attention). The age of Aquarius was not build around a bunch of starched shirts. Yet there came a time when that generation had to step up and take over the economy, and everything changed. This anti-establishment, free-love, don't trust anyone over thirty generation became the establishment.

Guess what, the Millennials are smart, educated, and ambitious people....just like every other generation. Sure, they grew up playing soccer games where nobody kept score so that no kid would need to lose....But guess what...they all kept score! Even when the adults said winning didn't matter, these kids knew damn well who won the game. Sure, everyone got a trophy, but not one of them was so dumb as to think they all won.

These folks entered the work force and have a lot of options, but that will not always be the case, and if jobs are harder to find you will see them doing what it takes to "pay their dues" and staying put longer in jobs. I argue that living with mom and dad or jumping to better opportunities is less a slap on the Millennial's character as it is a sign of the times. Additionally, when they get married and have kids their priorities will change just like their baby boomer parents. Sure it is cool to live with mom and dad rent free while driving a cool BMW after college...but when you have a spouse and three kids, your own home and a minivan become more appealing.

I think it is time that the Millennials stand up for themselves and tell the world that they are motivated hard workers who are qualified and interested in climbing the economic ladder. While being born after the US Bicentennial and the release of the original Star Wars does make for some different life experiences than those who came before, that is true of every generation.

I predict that this group will do just fine in life (as have their ancestors) and that the kids of the 2040s and 2050s will see them as stodgy!

Have A Great Day.



Jim O'Donnell said...

"Sure, they grew up playing soccer games where nobody kept score so that no kid would need to lose....But guess what...they all kept score! Even when the adults said winning didn't matter, these kids knew damn well who won the game."

Here, here!!! The Millennials are savvy! They aren't lazy, they've just learned from some of the mistakes their parents made in the 80's and 90's.

Tiffany Monhollon said...

I really enjoy this article, and I think there are many ways Millennials can stand up for themselves. I've been drafting up a post for a while along these same lines, so thanks for the inspiration to push that up on the agenda. I think it's an important subject, and I appreciate the way you've put it.

silverthoughts said...

I don't think this generation has come into full-bloom yet. I was born in '84, so I'm part of this generation. Among my peers there seems to be a growing frustration of not being challenged. I think unlike the Boomers we don't have a dislike of 'the establishment', and are more realistic, than idealistic. We're not out to win a crusade. Unlike GenXers we're not cynical or lone wolves. We like involvement in the community and feedback.

It may seems like we're not standing up for ourselves because I think most of us have a pretty good attitude, and aren't trying to 'prove something'. We're just eagerly waiting until it's our turn to control the establishment. I think we're an extremely ambitious generation, and that's going to show more over the next decade. Instead of standing up for ourselves, i think we'll slowly be taking over the world!!-haha.