Generation Y: Overcoming the Stereotypes
A Guest Post by Drew Slater
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Jefferson
What does this quote mean to you? Do you find it amazing that a quote said by a man who was born over 250 years ago is still relevant? Psh…I know I do.
Our generation, Generation Y, gets a lot of flak for being entitled and not truly knowing what hard work really means. Whether or not you believe the assumptions to be true or not, your beliefs are a moot point because the reality is, the assumptions are out there. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Prove them right or prove them wrong?
I for one love to prove people wrong and don’t like listening to people group me into something not based on my own actions, but rather group me into something based on the actions of others. Honestly, it kind of ticks me off because I know I have worked hard to get where I am and how hard I continue to work to get where I want to go. I would like to assume most people in Generation Y feel the same way (sigh…I hope so…), so I’ve tried to identify a few ways to help alter the perception about us.
– Just Do It. – This should be your motto. Chances are you didn’t start with direct reports or in the corner office and you are swamped with a lot of work which you feel is beneath you. Look around, there isn’t anyone beneath you. Once you realize that, the better you’ll be. If your colleague or boss tells you to do something that you don’t really want to do it, wait for it…just do it. Show him or her you can do it because whether or not you realize it, everyone starts from somewhere and everyone has been in your shoes before.
– Stay Quiet – Considering I am such an extrovert that it sometimes pains me to stay quiet, this one is huge. It’s quite simple. First off, no one wants to hear you complain. Second off, no one wants to hear you brag. It’s that simple. You might be frustrated because a client did this or that and you think it’s a big deal when in reality, 9 out of 10 times, everyone else has experienced it and then your rant simply amplifies your inexperience. On the flip side, don’t brag out loud. If you are in a 1:1 with your boss or small group, maybe share it, but otherwise keep it to yourself.
– Dress Up – You are a professional, so you need to dress like a professional. Dressing like everyone is okay if you want to be like everyone. Take a minute and look around. I’m willing to bet you will notice something funny. The people in the offices and with the direct reports are normally some of the nicest dressed people day in and day out. Coincidence? Maybe, but I don’t see how dressing nice can be a bad thing anyway.
– Stay Focused – Nowadays, there are a ton of distractions around us – social media, news, music, texts, etc. You need to practice staying away from as many personal distractions as possible during the day and stay focused with the task at hand. Just because you work hard for 15 or 20 minutes, doesn’t mean you can search through your news feed on your phone for fun. It means you still have several more hours of work ahead of you. You will also be amazed at what you can do if you stay focused and simply pump out work.
Being in Generation Y comes with a lot of negative stereotypes, but the truth is, stereotypes normally come from somewhere. While I do believe a good chunk of the generation works hard and has a good head on their shoulders, there are those who don’t and unfortunately they tarnish our image. The tips above can help you either mend or keep your image intact in the workplace. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and do whatever the job or project is and prove someone wrong. It’s fun, I promise.
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