Brief guide to understanding Millennials

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Guest Writer Leah Rizzo, middays on Eagle 97.7

If you’re of the “Baby Boomer” or “Gen X” generations, you may have noticed a crop of young people popping up in your office. They don’t seem to have much experience, they appear to be quite literally attached to their phones, and they may even more closely resemble children dressed in their parents’ clothing at some sort of career day rather than actual adults. No, they’re not lost. They work there too now. They’re Millennials. Now, before you start panicking because you hear them using words like “lit, tinder, and fire,” all in a sentence that has nothing to do with lighting and actual fire, take a deep breath. I’m here to help. I consider myself to be a decent ambassador for my generation. At 25, I can name all four Beatles, I adore Mary Richards’ wardrobe in the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ and I consider country music to be more of the Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline variety all while hashtagging selfies from Snapchat onto my Instagram. You see? You can trust me. I am, in the immortal words of the great Hannah Montana, the “Best of Both Worlds”. So, let’s break down some Millennial Stereotypes.

When you first encounter a millennial in your office, you may feel this strong, uncontrollable urge to suddenly tell them about how terrible the world is now because now everyone gets a participation trophy. Before you do though, I want you to think long and hard and try to quell this feeling. Remember, we didn’t give ourselves participation trophies for simply existing on the soccer team you made us play on. That one is kind of on you. Personally, I always found it more embarrassing to get rewarded for something I felt I didn’t deserve. If you would like to try getting along with your fledgling coworkers, I would recommend steering clear of this particular conversation starter, however it is key to understanding the mentality of the millennials in your office.

On the heels of the Participation Trophy, you won’t hurt yourself jumping to the next conclusion about millennials- if you’re told you’re great all your life, you’re likely to believe your own hype. Simon Sinek does an excellent job breaking down the millennial psyche and understanding why we are the way we are in “Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace.” In is breakdown, he claims many millennials were subject to “Failed Parenting Strategies” that result in “Some of them [millennials] got into Honors classes not because they earned them, but because their parents they complained. And some of them got A’s because the teachers didn’t want to deal with the parents.” Sinek’s assessment rings true of both the many of the people in their twenties and of the people who raised them. My generation grew up essentially being told that if you go to college you’ll get a job. So, thousands of dollars, and four to five years later we graduated college ready to work. Except we couldn’t work, because in order to work it was not a piece of paper employers were looking for, but rather experience. But in order to get experience, you need a job, and to get a job you need a degree. You see where I’m going with this? Millennials came out of college a little shell shocked and way unprepared. I think older generations need to understand the equation that produced the millennial mindset and I think self-reflection on the part of the millennials are key steps in understanding each other.

Millennials have grown up slower than previous generations. We’re going to school longer and getting married and starting families later than any other generation. So we get to play a little longer then you guys did. In your eyes we probably sound a lot like the teenager you’re dealing with at home. So I ask for a little forgiveness and a little guidance from your generations. Stop putting us down with our failings and start building us up with your wisdom. Unfortunately, I don’t have the allotted word count to take you on an in-depth guide on how millennials are changing the way the American Dream looks and why, but it is important for you to understand that just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s bad. For a more sarcastic look at what millennials think about the world, please check out The Millennial Minute- each episode is only one minute long and I hope you’ll find them entertaining.

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