How millennial am I? Well, I scored a 96 on Pew Research Center’s “How Millennial Are You?” quiz. Apparently pretty millennial! Though I am most definitely part of the Millennial generation, I was surprised at how high my score was. As I read the multitude of reports about my generation in the workplace, I often find myself on the defensive, thinking “I’m not like that!” (I don’t spend all day watching TV, playing video games, or complaining about how I’m treated by other generations. I don’t think I’m particularly flakey or unreliable). It is important to remember that while we are a generation sharing some key characteristics, we are also individuals.
Millennials, or Gen Y, are those born from the early 80’s to early 2000’s. As we covered yesterday, unemployment is a big issue for younger Millennials. 9/11 was a major event in our childhood/youth. We grew up around and are comfortable with technology (no, I didn’t have a cell phone as a kid, but I don’t remember a time without a home computer). We tend to be more highly educated, more liberal, and less religious than our predecessors. By 2020, we’ll make up 40% of the workforce (be ready for 86 million of us!).
We’ve been called the “Me Generation,” but not all of us are self-absorbed and selfish. We weren’t all raised by helicopter parents and showered with participation trophies. And even if we were, it doesn’t mean we need our parents to find us a job (yes, we’ve all heard the stories, but everyone I know is out there doing it on their own!) or can’t be self sufficient. Be careful about lumping us all in together; in an office with no fewer than eight Gen Y employees, I see significant differences between all of my fellow Millennials. We all have unique personalities and life experiences. Get to know us individually rather than writing us off because of what you’ve heard about our generation as a whole.
And yes, I realize the title of this post has a certain irony, as wanting to be known as an individual (note, not special: special is a whole other issue) is a stereotypical Millennial trait (I’m a unique individual, just like everyone else). What do you think? If you’re a millennial, what biases have you encountered and how have you worked to combat them? If you’re from another generation, what has been your experience interacting with millennials? No matter which generation you “belong” to, learning to work more efficiently and effectively with others is a key skill.