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Don’t Be Such a Millennial

Don’t Be Such a Millennial

Take back the term "millennial." Tips for revolutionizing the workplace through hard work and humility.

By Kathryn Knight Randolph

August 26, 2011

Earlier this month, CNN contributor and national columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr. wrote an opinion piece on millennials in the job market, saying, “millennials are tech-savvy, highly educated and have incredibly high self-esteem even if they haven’t done much to deserve it.” And he’s not alone.

Needless to say, Navarette’s assessment was a bit controversial to both millennials and non-millennials. But is he correct in some respects?

Millennials, falling between ages 18 and 30, bring a great deal to the workplace. They know their away around every social media outlet. They inspire a creativity that surpasses “thinking outside of the box” because using such a clichéd term to define it is insufficient. And they are self-starters – just look at Zuckerberg and the many other millenials like him in the Silicon Valley.

But like Zuckerberg, some millennials can come off seeming a little entitled. Whether you’re a millennial or not, or an entitled millennial or not, we’ve got some sage advice for not acting like Navarette’s “high self-esteem” millennial in the job market and in the workplace.

The perfect job. Naverrette points out that the unemployment rate for millennials is currently at 14%, compared to the national rate of 9.2%. There are a variety of reasons for this. First, millennials are competing against men and women who have been laid off and are therefore more experienced.

Second, because of the recession, many companies have downsized. In addition to laying off some of the more experienced employees, corporations are limiting hiring for the time being.

Third, millennials are holding out for the perfect job. They want the job they dreamed of in college – in the big city, with the perfect pay and plenty of paid days off. And while the perfect job is out there, it might not be the perfect time to go after it.

We’re living in one of those times where “beggars can’t be choosers.” If you don’t want to live in Mom and Dad’s basement for the next year, you may have to suck it up and take a job that isn’t glamorous for now. Even if you’re just waitressing or serving as a barista at your local coffee shop until that perfect job comes along, you at least have your foot outside of the basement door.

The entitlement. Naverrette states that, “…when they [millennials] do land their dream job, they have some pretty tough requirements in terms of what they want from the experience, such as career advancement. With millennials, you didn’t do them any favors by offering them a job; they think they did you a favor by taking it.”

In my few years in the workforce, I have heard plenty of younger co-millennials declare, “If I don’t get my three-month raise, I’m quitting.” Yes, some crazy companies out there just give raises based on three or six-month terms of employment. But at this time, consider yourself lucky if you even get an annual raise – or keep your job, for that matter.

The reality is that most companies don’t give raises just because you’ve worked there for three, six or twelve months. You have to actually work for that raise or bonus, i.e. your performance determines your pay increases.

In the workplace, you should have no sense of entitlement. Employees that garner attention from their bosses and qualify for performance-based raises keep their heads down, work hard and make it clear that they care about doing well by asking their boss questions like:

• How am I doing
• What can I be doing better?
• How can someone in my position work to advance here?

The attitude. In addition to hearing my co-millennials complain about raises, I’ve heard some say, “I’m not doing that task. It’s not part of my job description.” And it seems Navarrette has heard the same: “There was the chef who reported that young workers in his kitchen give him strange looks when he asks them "to do something like wash both the inside and outside of a pot or pan or to merely complete a job the best they can.” They’re more apt to say: “That’s not my job!””

No matter where you work, you’re on a team. Remember all of the clichéd sayings your high school sports team emblazoned on t-shirts? There’s no “I” in TEAM. “Team” means Together Everyone Achieves More! Well, the same applies to the workplace.

There will be times when you have to do a co-worker’s task or job. Whether it’s because they’re a slacker or don’t have time, it doesn’t matter. You have to help the rest of your team pick up the pieces.

Like your high school sports team, there are star players and then there are those that ride the bench. Be the star player that humbles themselves by working hard, maintaining a good attitude and doing everything you can to ensure that you’re an easy person to work with. At the end of the day and at the culmination of your work experience at that company, you want your co-workers to have the best things to say about you. After all, they’ll be providing the references for your next job.

While many of Navarrette’s conclusions about millennials, in a broad sense, were wrong, some were right. It’s up to millennials to take that term back in the job market and workplace. The term, “millennials,” can evolve to mean something entirely different: hard workers, creative thinkers and workplace revolutionaries.


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    Bolton

    almost 2 years ago

    4 comments

    Considering the generations beforehand could afford to buy a house, a car, and have all their basic necessities actually affordable if they were working 40 hours - let alone 3 jobs - and THEN still have a little something to put away for retirement, I don't think what you're seeing is entitlement.

    I think what you're seeing is "I'm eighteen and society expects me to be able to manage on my own." And "I just spend $60K on the education everyone has told me I need to get a job - and no one's hiring." And "I'm putting a burden on my parents because I can't make a living."

    If anyone's entitled, it's the people who already have what they need. Just suck it up, keep your head down and pretend the sky isn't falling, right?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Bolton

    almost 2 years ago

    4 comments

    Considering the generations beforehand could afford to buy a house, a car, and have all their basic necessities actually affordable if they were working 40 hours - let alone 3 jobs - and THEN still have a little something to put away for retirement, I don't think what you're seeing is entitlement.

    I think what you're seeing is "I'm eighteen and society expects me to be able to manage on my own." And "I just spend $60K on the education everyone has told me I need to get a job - and no one's hiring." And "I'm putting a burden on my parents because I can't make a living."

    If anyone's entitled, it's the people who already have what they need. Just suck it up, keep your head down and pretend the sky isn't falling, right?

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    julaakas

    almost 2 years ago

    22 comments

    If you think Eleanor`s story is terrific,, a month ago my brothers father in-law brought home $6559 putting in thirteen hours a week from their apartment and they're buddy's step-mother`s neighbour done this for three months and easily made over $6559 part time on their computer. use the guide on this address, http://www.Cloud65.com

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    revitguru

    almost 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I am a "millennial". The only time I have ever received a pay increase is when I left to another company (I'm a "Designer/Drafter" in architecture). They say, keep your nose down and work hard? I do. Many of us do. What happens is we are pigeonholed because of our tech skills and never given opportunities to advance within. So, the only way to increase your pay is to leave and go somewhere else. Is this new? Plus, finding a mentor is limited or nonexistent these days (in my experiences, 3 companies 6 years). It’s as if our computer skills have limited our professional growth.

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    persafani

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I have 3 jobs and I am a "millennial". I have worked throughout my entire college career and while I have seen some people with this attitude, this attitude may apply more to our generation than others, but these employers are quick to fire people and make your workload double or triple while you receive the same pay and you're supposed to be grateful. They are quick to fire you and guilt trip you for actually using your sick time and wanting to take a vacation if you're fortunate enough to have vacation pay/time. In my personal and work experience, employers don't value their employees or care about their concerns...they pretend care by holding surveys and things, but it's really for show. They just put the problem back on you and ask you how you're going to fix it, when you didn't create the problem. As for HR if you actually do have a legitimate complaint HR will not help you, they are there for the benefit of management and to protect the company.

    It sounds like this article is promoting the attitude many Gen-Xers I work with share. Keep your head down, do your work, don't say anything, "be grateful"...nothing changes or is accomplished by this. You continue to perpetuate a system that is clearly NOT working. Employers continue to lay people off, cut benefits, don't give raises {performance-based or otherwise}, make your workload heavier, you spend less time with your family and doing things that are important to you. This is the main reason people are so unhappy.

    I will work my jobs and do my best to get by for now, but don't tell me I need to "be grateful" for crappy circumstances.

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    solve004

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I like the use of statistics in this article" "14% unemployment of milenials compared to 9.2% national average"

    Yeah that might have something to do with the fact that entry level jobs don't exist in most fields. Many entry level jobs require 2+ years experience that you were somehow supposed to achieve during an internship. 2008 was the summer that I was supposed to get an internship and that's when the economy completely tanked.

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    katehuebler

    about 3 years ago

    6 comments

    Hi. I am currently living at home and working on getting work. When I graduated in 2009, I worked in retail for a year, before returning to school for a paid internship in my dream field, marketing. When my internship ended at the end of the year, I moved home and I got a full time job and got laid off. I am working part time and constantly interviewing and trying to pick things up. I want a job in marketing, but I am happy to take admin assistant jobs etc. Also, I have experience in education, so I'm looking for afterschool type jobs too. I would honestly like some advice- do you think it's better to take a job while I keep looking in anything? I felt when I worked in retail for the year my motivation quickly burnt up because I never knew my schedule more than a week at most. Usually my boss would give us the schedule Friday for the week that started Saturday. It made it really hard to set up interviews. So... I'm wondering if I should wait it out and keep doing what I'm doing. I'm really not a spoiled brat, nor do I feel entitled. I just want to be successful- and if I get a paid internship making minimum wage doing what I want to do part time (interview next week for one of these positions), then yay! Or I might just take a job to teach in Asia, because that seems like a good deal (free airfare, $2,300 monthly, health insurance, a month of serverance, and FREE RENT!!!). Also, getting a job without a car sucks.

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    shar13173

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    As a fellow millenial, I'd just like to say...come on, guys. The article clearly states that "some millenials can come off seeming a little entitled." Some equals less than the whole, so if you don't feel like this article describes you accurately, you probably aren't the focus of the article. You don't need to be offended, or call the writer's methods "archaic." You can be proud that you grew up in the environment you did and still managed to turn out okay - which is something someone born to any generation might be able to say (anyone remember learning about the Great Depression?).

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    SarahKirstenRose

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I also find articles like this very offensive. I graduated in 2010 and I waited tables throughout college and continue to do so today. I have a part-time job in my field which I got about 8 months after graduating and I feel extremely fortunate to have. I majored in Interior Architecture and I am the only person I know in my major's graduating class who is actually working for a Kitchen and Bath Design Center (within my field). I count my blessings every day I get up whether it be the day I go to wait tables or the day I go to do architectural drawings for upper class clients. I make $10 an hour at my "close-to-dream-job" with no benefits and no taxes taken out. I do a multitude of "jobs" at my design job including, architectural drawings, answering the phone/making phone calls, marketing, social media marketing, changing lightbulbs, running errands, cleaning our showroom, and even writing our newsletter. Any extra days of work that my boss asks me to come in, including weekends and late nights, I gladly say "yes!" just looking for an opportunity to help convince her that she shouldn't let me go. I still between the two jobs am not making enough money to begin paying back my student loans but I know that in this economy, I am still in better standing than many others are. So instead of demanding higher pay and more hours and benefits from my boss, I am humbly waiting for my opportunity to become stable and trusting God that I am going to be ok even if I lose both of these jobs. Grouping a time period of births together and labeling them "the millennials" with a stigma is not how you are going to get people to change their attitudes. Instead, companies are quite capable of hiring and firing their employees based on the characteristics and attitudes they want represented within their companies. There are plenty of hard-working, grateful people from age 18 to 30, maybe you just surround yourself with all the wrong ones.

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    RadicalDreamer

    about 3 years ago

    4 comments

    I should also mention that I work in the fields of education and childcare. My dream job is to be a school teacher, but the financial viability of the entry-level positions in these fields is extremely limited without additional financial support (i.e. parents).

  • Pic1_max50

    RadicalDreamer

    about 3 years ago

    4 comments

    Honestly even just taking a job won't necessarily get you out of your mom and dad's basement. I work two jobs, but between health insurance, college loans, car payments, gas and incidentals, I just can't afford to pay rent as well. Fortunately I live upstairs with a nice balcony, instead of the basement.

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    CourtPitts

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    Someone made a very good point that us Millenials grew up being constantly told to dream big--because when we were young, a cool, high-paying job was pretty within reach. Now that we've worked just as hard as any generation through high school, college, whatever it may be--we are dealt these cards to no fault of our own. Using our skills such as social media is what we should be doing and is what makes our generation our own. I have a great job and am very lucky, but personally this is not the promising future I was looking forward to.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    mfillebrown

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    articles like this are so frustrating for me to read. I graduated in 2010 and I've been working at Starbucks for the past year. For the past 6 months I've been interning for a company slightly related to my intended field, meaning 50ish hours a week and often working 7 days a week and 12 hour days. At this point I would take ANY job offer I got--no dream jobs for me. I hate being told that I'm arrogant and entitled when I'm working this hard and getting nowhere.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    LindsayOSU12

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I am currently a college senior and had a summer internship with a 5th year senior who was 4 years older than me. I see so much of these "generational defects" in my fellow intern. I was asked to stay on through fall quarter, while he's being dismissed at the end of the month. Entitlement is an inconsiderate trait to show, gratitude it more appropriate.

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    bmxholmes

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    Forgetting everything else and focusing specifically on the job market; There are not enough jobs being created to hire competent and capable young individuals. I am lucky to have a job that I love, and yes, its a big city, "cool" job. I work 60+ hours a week and usually weekends. So I'm going to have to put this article in the category of over-generalization and lack of analyzing the whole picture. Please, comment if you disagree.

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