In defense of millenials

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Hillary C. Wright
Guest Columnist

With the latest crop of college graduates out pounding the pavement in their job search, you’ve probably heard the generalizations and seen the hesitation of many employers in the hiring of the millennial. This new generation has been identified by so many undesirable traits that it seems nearly impossible to overcome the reputation.

They’re labeled as lazy, entitled, disloyal, irresponsible and technology-addicted kids who are just out for themselves. So, because of being hit with all of these negative clichés, it has gradually and increasingly become the job of millennials alike to quiet the horror, conquer the stereotypes and prove to nearly every potential employer that they’re actually worth their time and money.

As a millennial myself, I can see both sides of the scenario. I propose a compromise, a meeting in the middle, if you will, so that the generation before us can see what us Generation Y’s are dealing with and also come to realize the various skills that we offer.

First of all, it’s important to note that the conclusions typically drawn about Gen Y’s only apply to some and not all. I’ll admit that I absolutely grew up with some who were and still are lazy and yet think they are entitled to any and every existing privilege on earth. I once worked with a girl who thought pretty highly of herself and continuously insisted that she deserved the same pay and benefits as someone else in the business – even though the other person had been at the company much longer and actually earned her way. The complainer also consistently blamed others for her shortcomings and called in “sick” numerous times. Needless to say, as much as I wanted to voice my opinion, I bit my tongue and just listened to her griping. Her attitude still amazes me to this day, and I know many more like her. But that characteristic shouldn’t be used to define an entire generation. There are still some of us who, instead of acting entitled, are grateful for each and every opportunity we encounter. As for those who continue to want something for nothing, I say, let’s look to the influences of the young individual. Do his/her parents uphold their “entitled” attitude? Has this person had almost everything practically handed to them on a silver platter?  Perhaps these young adults need a dose of reality. Usually, these are at least a few of the contributing factors.

Still, there are some who also say that millennials think they should get a high-paying job right out of college, instead of working their way up like everybody else. I assure you that not all millennials have that mindset. While we are ambitious, many of us are happy to start at the bottom as an assistant or at the junior level—it’s much better than spending your first few years out of college flipping burgers. Give us a little credit—we did graduate from college like you told us to, and took unpaid internships as our professors advised. Yet, we still have trouble in this ridiculously unstable economy with finding our first entry-level position and are usually forced to take on a retail or factory job until a better opportunity comes along, many times because we don’t have enough experience on our résumé. At that point, there’s no sense of entitlement. We just want a job because we earned it!

I’ve also heard many others criticize us 20-somethings and claim we are irresponsible. Sadly yes, I have to agree. We are irresponsible at times.

I have no qualms with that notion because it tends to be an immutable fact of life. Young people are bound to fail at some things; after all, we are inexperienced, as the generation before us once was. What some don’t to get is that millennials are still learning about this thing called life. There are inevitably going to be a few bumps along the way. The best we can do is learn from them.

Now comes a trait that I’ve seen many objections on: the fascinating and sometimes frustrating world of technology and the effect it has on young people. I’ve heard every accusation in the book hurled at millennials’ use of technology. We live in a time when communication and the flow of information are instantly accessible through the use of the computers, smart phones and tablets, available in all shapes and sizes. While I won’t dispute that there is a time and a place for technology, no one can hardly go through a day without using it, especially if you work. I have seen just as many older adults glued to their Smartphones and laptops as I have they younger ones. Since we were raised in the age of technology, many of us are tech-savvy. Thus, the company hiring us would be at a great advantage. That 20-something might be able to fix your computer when it suddenly crashes, saving you from calling and paying for a technician to fix it.

They can also set up social media pages for your business—free advertising! Smartphones are almost essential in the workplace now, especially in high-powered careers. Your boss may need to communicate through text or email, at anytime, especially if your job requires travel. Technology may at times seem annoying when young people are constantly plugged in, but it is really a convenience that could be to your benefit.

Millennials may seem to come from a different world, but they deserve the benefit of the doubt and not a conventional judgment. Give them a chance.