The Millennial Dilemma

By 1stFive Archives
Cover image for  article: The Millennial Dilemma

We’ve been called lazy, arrogant, narcissistic -- and most definitely tech-absorbed. When older generations hear the word “Millennials,” they often groan or shake their heads. We are the spoiled generation, connected constantly to our phones and missing out on real relationships, real connections. Or so they say.

Anne Hubert, Senior Vice President at Viacom and head of Scratch, a creative consultancy, has something different to say about Millennials, especially in the workplace. Speaking to a conference room packed full of them last month at 1stFive’s second annual intern reception, Hubert acknowledged the prevalence of not-so-flattering adjectives associated with our generation, including the big one: “Entitled.” (There are more reports from the intern reception posted in the 1stFive community.)

“The biggest misconception about Millennials is that they are entitled,” Hubert told the crowd. “As a generation, you’ve grown up with more supportive parents than older generations and received trophies for coming in 11th place.  You’re the group who truly believes you are going to get where you’re going in life.”  According to Hubert, that perspective and optimism is a powerful thing, but sometimes doesn’t translate well to entry-level positions.

Many Millennials believe that they have a lot to offer employers, but often their first jobs don’t quite meet their expectations, leaving them looking for more from their careers. Many feel like they have more to give and contribute at work but can’t fully realize their potential. It’s our reaction -- the demand for attention, feedback, promotion or elevation -- that can sometimes come across as arrogant or entitled and cause friction with other generations, Hubert remarked.

But just because we’ve grown up with different parenting techniques and ideas of success, that doesn’t mean our generation doesn’t have a lot to offer.  As Hubert emphasized to the room, Millennials make up one-third of the population -- “the largest generational cohort the world has ever seen” and a whopping 50 percent of the workplace by 2020, she explains further in her TED Talk. On top of our sheer size, we are the most educated generation to date. Our impact will definitely be felt, but the challenge is getting the right kind of attention at work and making the impact we want to make.

Hubert’s best advice? Start saying “yes.” Take initiative and never shy away from an opportunity even if it isn’t what you originally envisioned for your career. It is actually experiencing new things, instead of contemplating them in theory, that helps you find the parts of the business that make you truly come alive, she advised.  You may not end up where you thought you would, but there’s nothing wrong with that. “You’re the generation that is jumping in, not checking out, making things better, and figuring out the future of how the world is going to work,” she said.

It’s up to us to prove her right.

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