I recently listened to a story on the radio program Marketplace about millennials aka Generation Y, their work styles and how baby boomer and Gen X employers are trying to wrap their minds around how to manage these young workers, 19 - 35 years old. late Check it out here.
As a boomer, I listened and thought, well yeah, why should anybody think that keeping your Facebook status updated while on the job makes sense? How could anybody consider quitting a job because working on a long-term project might not offer immediate rewards during the process? Most of what everyone had to say reinforced the negative impression-- poor work ethic, social media obsessed, entitled and instant gratification oriented. Even the young people they spoke to didn't have positive things to say about their peers' work ethic, but they did have some pretty interesting ideas about why they are the way they are.
Marketing experts say millenials are not so hard to understand. For those of us over 35, the key is first realizing that our own expectations were shaped by the times of our own youth. We now live in a world where it's ordinary to share everything with everyone on social media instantly, to have unlimited choices of goods, services and recreation are at our fingertips (even if some of what we view is more aspirational than attainable) and it's easy to discover someone doing something with their life that resonates with us whether it's charitable or criminal, down the street or on the other side of the world. All this in a current economy where it's tough for a new graduate from high school, college, or job training program to find a job and get a return on their investment. So many choices on the one hand, not enough on the other.
My niece graduates from college this Saturday. She has had a stellar college experience by any standard. We don't talk as much as I'd like but I keep up with her whirlwind of a life via Facebook. She tells me she has a summer internship lined up through August, then she'll hopefully get a new full-time job in her field for at least a year while she applies to graduate school. I can't help but think that even if things weren't easier for me when I was where she is now, they sure were a lot simpler.