Millennial: the dreaded buzzword of our generation. Usually when an article uses the “m” word, what follows is a rant about the stereotypical 20-something that belongs in the “Generation Me” box. Well, we should get used to it because the stigma will only increase after college. However, there is an advantage that we Millennials have: the previous generations (Generation X, Baby Boomers, the Silent Generation) are obsessed with trying to define and analyze us, so they may present us to the rest of the world as either a scapegoat or a savior. How is this an advantage? Because these older generations are aiding in the refining process each individual needs to go through in order to reach his or her full potential.
Below, readers will find a list of common opinions about Millennials that the past generations have formed. Some will be positive, but most will be critical, and that can be beneficial. Learn from them, because when graduation comes and it is time to step into a world full of diverse ages and ideologies, it will be helpful to know what box you have already been placed in. Millennials …
1. Value equal success in their personal and professional lives. Some employers will admire this, but others will resent Millennials and feel they are not totally devoted to the company’s mission.
2. Are too dependent on social media, which is good for mass communication but inhibits interpersonal interactions. “It should be your first instinct, not last, to talk to a real person,” said Jason Nazar of Forbes magazine. Millennials need to work extra hard to prove they are capable of competent face-to-face communication.
3. Typically value and accept diversity among peers. This should include diversity across generations, a needed advantage when trying to create relationships.
4. Want to save the world, but do not know how to follow through on their big ideas. This desire to save humanity is what draws so many young professionals to nonprofit organizations. Experienced business people admire this passion, but understand that Millennials have less years of experience than other employees. Cooperation with previous generations will allow for actions, rather than mere concepts, to take place.
5. Expect heaps of praise for doing their basic job requirements. Another nickname for Millennials is “Trophy Kids.” You know, because in pee-wee soccer we all got trophies for “being the best you.” This means in the workplace Millennials usually expect constant feedback—something that employers will not constantly give, because they are not your life coach.
6. Expect to advance in their career almost instantaneously. While Millennials may be overqualified on paper for certain entry-level jobs, this does not mean that they are actually better than their job. Each job has wisdom to offer but it takes time to become apparent. Patience will not only allow us to learn “real-world smarts,” but will also help us stand out to employers from the rest of the newbies.
7. Do not know how to properly balance humility and the willingness to learn with confidence and enterprise. This is a lot to expect from any person, but Millennials are under the critical eye of both the previous and younger generations.
If this article felt like a generation roast, please do not shoot the messenger. The stereotypes of our generation should be considered a challenge, not a discouragement. Millennials have a lot to offer, and our desire for self-actualization rather than social compliance is admirable.
Claire Hunter Columnist
Contact Claire Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org