In Defense of the Millennials.

It has been brought to my attention that certain members of Generation X and above have a problem with my generation. This week, Mayra Jimenez spouted some pretty generalistic accusations regarding my age group.  She asked the question “what’s wrong with my Millennial employees?” and continued to call us “cocky”, unthankful, and self entitled brats.  As you can imagine, I was not thrilled when I heard this opinion.

These characteristics she gives to Millennials aren’t new in the workforce.  I’ve met plenty of cocky Baby Boomers while doing my time in corporate America.  People act like these traits are something magically grown from prolonged exposure to the internet.  You say we think we’re above the rules and we don’t follow through.  Those characteristics belong to individuals not an entire generation.  I’m sure you made a mistake or two your first few years in the real world, and you “stuck it to the man” here and there.  Don’t act like you’ve been absolved of the downfalls of transitioning from being a student to earning a living.

Anti-Millennial mentality wants to shut out the opinions of a younger generation, accusing them of being “know-it-alls”.  It’s a shame that I need to remind you of the Millennials that have succeeded immensely.  Remember Mark Zuckerberg?  The intelligent, dedicated, and determined Millennial who has built himself a billion dollar empire?  Yeah, he’s 28 years-old!  I wonder what would’ve happened if an old crusty CEO laughed at his philosophy on the potential of social networking.  Give the Millennials more credit, we live ON the internet–I think we know how it works.

Maybe the reason we demand more compensation in the workplace–is because the excuse of “it’s a bad economy” has given you the green light to pay less, prolong unpaid internships in hopes of acquiring free labor, and demanding excessive amounts of work from under-experienced 20 somethings. We know how hard we work, and we know how hard we’re struggling.  We hate the fact that our 30s are right around the corner, and we don’t feel like we have anything to show for it.  Many of us live paycheck to paycheck.  We’re frustrated by the fact that we’re not completely independent from our parents.  So I’m sorry if I’m asking to be paid a little over the poverty line.

She accuses Millennials of being so many things, but fails to recognize the true mindset of our generation.  Jeffrey Jensen of Clark University surveyed 1,029 emerging adults and found some pretty revealing qualities.   We’re looking to make a difference, we’re anxious, and we long for this so-called “adulthood”.  In order to cope with the uncertainty of our future we pursue enjoyable experiences.  We’re taking the time to make our 20s as fun and exciting as they can possibly be–because what else do we have?  We don’t have job stability, we don’t have financial stability, but we have each other. That’s what is keeping us alive.

So before you call us lazy, think about how different times are now than when you were our age.  How would you handle this type of environment if you had to do it all over again? Hmmm?

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3 thoughts on “In Defense of the Millennials.

  1. Sara says:

    Millenials get a bad rep for being entitled and self-centered because we were raised that way. Yes, we are smart, care about teamwork, and are generally interested in being good people, but we are also the coddled generation, the ones that get trophies just for participating. I’m not saying it’s right that we are getting basically screwed with the economy, but that’s why we sometimes come off as spoiled. We were constantly told that we were special and important and that makes you expect that from the rest of the world. (Obviously generalizing here, everyone is different.) Just wrote a paper about this effect for school, it’s pretty interesting.

  2. Sara James says:

    Hi! I had to read this for a college class! I am glad you defend “us.” I cannot wait to hear what the others in the class have to say! Thanks for this — means a lot to our gen! ~~ Sara

  3. Rodger says:

    I am a 55 yr old retired public preschool teacher and I am attending a locla community college for something else. It was a required to read this so I thought I would respond with my response from the article

    I wanted to start this piece off by mentioning the article “What is it about 20 something.” The article by Ms. Henig talks about synaptic pruning in both early childhood and adulthood in the 20′s. As an Early childhood specialist, with a Masters in Early Childhood Education, this has been a subject of deep research for myself professionally and personally. I can not quote to you where I got the following information, it is a life long process of observation, studying and working with children that sums up the following of my understanding of the brains development. This is important for you to know when you have your own children, In the early years, synaptic pruning takes place, this is true. But what is synaptic pruning?

    When you expose children to a variety of stimuli, it opens up the synapses and relays in the brain like an electrical circuit allowing electricity to flow. The synapses are already there, but the stimuli increases the quality of those pathways. The more variety of exposure to the children, the better the flow. This means, at a young age, take them to a variety of things. (Sports, concerts, plays, museums, and other appropriate activities for children.) When you see children taking an interest in a particular thing, of course you find ways to expand on it, but continue to expose them to the variety. What happens, is as the children go to school, they become better learners because their brains are flowing better. Research has shown, thatthe better the flow of the synapses when the children are younger, when they reach their 50′s and up, their quality of life is improved over those that have had limited exposure as discussed earlier.

    When children reach about 15, parents say they lose their minds and regain it again in the early 20′s. This is an observation I have heard from many parents, not only from myself. Since I am an Early Childhood Specialist and not a teenage specialist (if a teenage specialist exists) I defer not only to observations, but to research as well. It seems to be supported by Ms. Henigs article where she states:

    “Synaptic pruning intensifies after rapid brain-cell proliferation during childhood and again in the period that encompasses adolescence and the 20s.” I am imagining that once the synaptic pruning stops, that is when the children regain their minds.

    Now I am going to comment on “What’s wrong with my millennial employees?” the answer is short – nothing – you are expecting orange juice from apples.

    To explain, Ms. Jimenez thinks the employees are cocky, take things for granted, they think they’re exempt from rules and they don’t need to follow through.

    Cocky: “Even in a recession-hobbled economy, with very few challenging entry level job openings and even fewer in the fashion industry, 20-somethings seem to think their options are endless.” Who is the cocky one here and what respect does she have for the millennial employees. They are taught in school to think their opportunities are endless. Seems to me like she is saying they should be slaves, especially after the following remark: “Recent graduates (regardless of where they went to school) from time immemorial have been asked to make copies and bring people coffee.” Get your own coffee, they have jobs to do too!

    They Think they’re exempt from rules: “These are all activities they seem to think are normal: sending emails to clients with blatant grammatical mistakes, knowingly telling customers incorrect information (because they think that’s a better answer), and ignoring an inquiry from their boss.” Well lets see, and I am sorry if I am getting too sarcastic here, but the educational system has shoved garbage down their throats for 15 years, and now they think they can breathe because they are out of it. They have been taught to study for tests as the most important thing, not think for themselves, often cheating is done on tests to increase test scores, they have had no preparation for the world outside of school other than you have to go to college or get a job, and more importantly, they have been taught not to be themselves. As they grow into the adult world, they start discovering who they are and are rejecting authority.

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