A Guest Post By Drew Slater
It seems more and more businesses are trying to figure out Gen Y aka Millennials these days. First off…what is a Millennial? Some countries define the generation as anyone born from 1980 to the early 2000s; however, in the U.S. and the U.K. it is defined as anyone born from 1980 to the early 1990s – we’ll go with that one.
As someone who is a Millennial, I want help businesses figure us out. I think there are some misconceptions out there, but in all seriousness…we are pretty awesome. (I may be biased.)
Now, let’s think about this for a second. What does being a Millennial really mean? Most Millennials can always remember having a computer in the house and maybe playing video games from a young age. We were raised believing we could be anything we wanted to be and we’ve had different media coming at us from multiple angles – fast!
So what’s the big deal about the points I mentioned above? They have shaped the Millennial in a way that no other generation has been molded. No other generation has ever had access to so much information so easily. No other generation has been able to get so much enjoyment while staying inside and staring at a screen. No other generation has had to deal with the media and advertising interweaving themselves into practically every aspect of our lives. Companies should learn how to work with our generation and stop thinking we’re lazy, arrogant and unable to see beyond ourselves.
More kids are graduating from college than ever before. How many startups have been attempted this past 5-10 years? How are we doing all of this – especially if this generation is lazy? The answer is simple, we aren’t lazy. Our work ethic may not look like the work ethic of years before us, but we do work hard. Finding research and getting things done take less time than they ever have. Technology allows us to work faster and work on multiple things at once. The tools which we would use today to research and get things done look different than they did before. Just because you don’t see stacks and stacks of books and papers on our desk doesn’t mean we aren’t applying ourselves – we use the computer to pull up articles and use “Ctl + F5 to find key phases.” Technology is just getting faster and faster these days. Don’t assume we are lazy because you don’t think we look like we aren’t working hard enough. Ask us to show you what we are doing or what we have found so far.
Another typical description of my generation is we are arrogant and no offense, but it’s not only Millennials who can act this way, it’s every generation. I don’t think arrogance is always a bad thing though; I think sometimes it’s a necessity. There is more competition than ever everywhere you look. Whether it’s in the classroom and the workforce, there are more people who are out to beat you. In my opinion, you have to think you are the best. You have to think you can do something even if you can’t. It’s the only way to survive. If we are better at something than someone, it will show. Don’t worry though, it works the other way as well.
Lastly, not seeing beyond ourselves…this sort of goes with the above. For the most part, America is a very individualistic country, so why are we being penalized for being individualistic? It’s what we were raised on. It’s what we told growing up, “don’t let anyone get in the way of your dreams,” or “you can be anything you want to be.” Similar expressions were instilled into our heads. In the business world, there are a lot of people vying, positioning and scheming and all we want to do is make sure we get a fair shot – regardless of age.
So while Millennials tend to have a negative connotation towards them, I think it’s more of companies and people not fully understanding us. We aren’t too different than generations before except we are more intense and louder. We want to be successful, and we work hard and have dreams. Companies should embrace this and do what any successful company does – evolve. Evolve and work with Millennials. If you accept and understand Millennials for who they are and work with them, I believe Millennials can take your company to the next level.
Drew Slater is a Miami native who graduated from the University of South Florida and is currently an account executive in the marketing departments for a Fortune 500 company. He has a strong passion for education, whether it is learning or teaching, and sees education as the key to success. In his spare time you can find Drew marathon training, soaking in the sun at the beach or cheering his hometown Heat or Dolphins on TV.
You can follow Drew on Twitter @drewhslater