Let’s Talk About Millennials

There are A LOT of millennial stereotypes out there, and many of them are exaggerated or grossly untrue. For some reason, older generations have made assumptions about our characteristics that differ from theirs and have decided they’re bad. Or,  writers are just making outrageous claims like that we hate groceries (I mean what even!?). It’s getting out of hand you guys.

Normally, I let these stereotypes slide because I know my own truth and I think older generations just want to make themselves feel better. It’s normal to hate new things. When the Beatles first came out, older generations didn’t like them. Now if you say you don’t like the Beatles you face life-long ostracization. Anyway, today I cannot hold my tongue. I came across this infographic on LinkedIn that is not just wrong, but dead wrong.

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Aside from what even is “executive presence” and the fact that the baby boomer looks like Colonel Sanders, those millennial cons are harsh. So let’s look at these piece by piece so I can tell you how wrong it is.

Millennials aren’t lazy.

Study after study finds that this is a myth. Not only are 43% of millennials considered “work martyrs” but more millennials forfeit taking vacation time than both baby boomers and Gen X. Millennials can’t afford to be lazy. We have the highest percentage of student debt by huge margins and the salaries of entry-level jobs haven’t risen at the same level as inflation. According to a Pew Research Center survey, “Millennials are the first in the modern era to have higher levels of debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations had at the same time.” My fellow millennials and I work hard. I would say that 80% of my cohorts have a side hustle, are actively involved in an organization, or regularly volunteer. We aren’t laying on the couch watching Friends reruns (mostly).

Millennials aren’t unproductive.

I have no idea how this survey quantified this statement but it’s very vague. Inc. think millennials are productivity masters. We benefit from all kinds of research on productivity and tools that older generations who are less tech-savvy generations, according to this chart, don’t use. Millennials get a lot done and have very full plates. As I stated above, I know so many people who work and have a side job or help run a charity or are active in other ways. Personally, I work full-time, am finishing grad school, run social media for freelance clients, and still manage to keep a semi-clean apartment, some semblance of a social life, and occasionally volunteer. All while still finding time to complete monthly goals. I don’t need some inforgraphic telling me I don’t get much done. Millennials are stressed, more stressed than previous generations at this age (perhaps by all the debt, therefore, need for side jobs).

Millennials are only a little self-obsessed. 

Millennials aren’t self-obsessed, but we’re striving to be self-reliant. We grew up in the great recession, we saw our parent’s get laid off from jobs. We saw banks and corporations protect themselves while screwing the little guys. Because of this, we know business are looking out for number one. So we do the same. However, according to Gallup, only 29% of millennials are actively looking for work. Speaking for myself, I would LOVE to stay at a company long-term. The stability, client relationships, and office connections are very intriguing. But, I have experience companies looking out for themselves first hand so I am not so naive to think any job will last forever.

Despite that, millennials are very giving with their time and money. Millennials care about a wide variety of causes and their social activism impacts where they work. 1/3 of millennials said that volunteer policies and opportunities effects where they apply to work. According to this survey, 70% of millennials volunteered at least one hour in 2014. 84% gave a charitable donation, with the average gift being almost $500. Even looking at recent election data, millennials overwhelmingly cared about social issues. Gun violence, climate change, and family leave were big issues for millennials in 2016.

The fact is, people dislike generations that aren’t their own. Generations above them aren’t innovative; generations below are entitled and whiny. That’s just how it goes. In 5 years, I could be creating an infographic about how bad Generation Z is, and I fully expect a blogger like me to tell me I’m wrong. Also, it helps to remember that of all the demographic details about a person, generation is not the most important. Sex, race, geographic information, and socioeconomic background likely play a much bigger role in behavior.

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