Dear "Me Me Me" Generation
We're a group of young adults who were born into the "me" generation - or so they say. Apparently, everything we do revolves around our own selfish desires and we're just a bunch of unstable kids who got everything that they wanted. Go ahead, ask a baby boomer about us, what are they going to say? 8/10 times a baby boomer in the workplace will have a slightly negative impression of millennials.
"They job hop a lot."
"They're too into their cell phones."
"They can't maintain stable relationships."
"They don't really care."
On the bright side, I came across an online article from TIME magazine, stating that millennials are "... the most threatening and exciting generation since the baby boomers brought on the social revolution."
Damn straight we are.
However, the author continues to go on and on about all the negative characteristics embedded within our culture. As I read the article, I began to wonder what happened to us, and how can we change the perception of millennials - whether that's at home, at work, or within society at large.
Now, if you know me, you'd know that I love to talking to people who come from all walks of life. During my recent work experience, I spent some time listening to the different perspectives of employees within sales, marketing, human resources, management etc., and I found that a lot of people encouraged millennials in the workplace, but their number one concern was the rate of turnover that came with us. One colleague of mine expressed that "people your age are just job hopping, they don't really know what they want and most of the time they're just motivated by money..."
PAUSE. Excuse me?
Hearing this from someone who has a strong influence over the organization was pretty concerning. The millennials that I know are strong, ambitious and are looking to solve problems within the world - but yet, there are some people who think that we're just "in it for the money.”
If there's one thing I can say in regards to a negative perception, it's this: respect the hierarchy, and respect the opinion of others - but never, ever, let them walk all over you. Find a way to express a positive opinion that will subtly rebut theirs (shout out to the Ryerson Speech & Debate team for teaching me this technique!), you'll feel a whole lot better about standing up for your beliefs in the long run (or even in the moment).
So, my dear millennial friends, how can we combat this negative perception that has been overshadowing our lives? I mean, it's really interesting because no matter how young or old you are, you will always have an interesting perception on the generation after you. Probably that's why our parents are the "rock n roll oldies" while we're, well... um.. "the twerk and trap generation," (God, help us all). I believe that with anything in life, change starts with you. In order for us to excel in the workplace we need to figure out what we want and stop judging others for wanting something different. We may be "misunderstood" in this world, but I truly believe that the majority of have a similar value system consisting of love, respect and growth.
Here are a few of my personal ideas for removing the stigma of millennials in the workplace and society:
1. Ponte Las Pilas
I came across a friend's post on Facebook that said "Ponte Las Pilas" which essentially means to "Get It Together." As a recent grad, I found that when a hiring manager is deciding between you, and someone who has been working in the industry a bit longer, they're going to go with the industry expert, because they're just too afraid to take the chance on a new grad who will pack up and leave after a year or so. Although this may not be true for you, it's the painstaking truth for most - so, ponte las pilas and research industries that you're interested in! It'll lead you to happiness, trust me - don't fake it in a an industry that you're not excited about, you'll only hurt your reputation.
2. Expand Your "Selfie Circle"
The same way you were taught to "expand your network," directly applies to expand your "selfie circle." Most people don't understand why you do certain things, so whether you're taking a picture of your food, or taking a selfie - include others (not randomly of course - definitely build your rapporteur first) but do take the time to explain things and include others - that's the main message here. Chances are, you'll find people who are interested in the same things as you, because y'know, connecting professionally and personally is key.
3. Read As If Your Life Depended On It (Because It Does)
Surprise! It's not always about you - but you already knew that. Reading, and even listening to podcasts will give you an edge like no other. Understanding a generation goes both ways. Surprisingly, people are lacking emotional intelligence in the workplace - but don't let it stop you from being emotionally aware! Get back on those books, newspapers, and podcasts - your future self will thank you.
Now, go out there and embrace your "me me me" generation as TIME magazine would put it, but don't forget to kill the stigma associated with millennials as well. Be a voice, not an echo.
But hey, if you don't want to, that's fine... we'll just see how awkward it is when you're judged solely based on your selfie taking skills and your affinity for unstable relationships.
The Awkward Adult