As a millennial in the communications field, I know how much every brand, organization and corporation wants to get inside our heads. They love us, they hate us, they are fascinated with us – ultimately because they can’t understand us. Honestly, I don’t even understand us half of the time. But, I may be able to shed some light on our generation as we continue to establish ourselves in the professional world.
- We are not our stereotypes
Just because we are labeled “millennials”, doesn’t mean we all act a certain way. In fact, I consider myself an outlier on most millennial stereotypes. We might be categorized as “millennials,” but we are human beings first and above all else. If you’re going to judge us, judge us by our actual work ethic, personality, and skillset rather than on the stereotypes that are attributed to our generation.
- We seek feedback, not constant praise
Many people believe that millennials need to be told how wonderful they are all the time. Although we won’t turn down the compliments, what we really want is feedback. Criticism isn’t always easy to take, but we know that it will make us stronger employees. We want to know when we are doing both a great and a not-so-great job. The generation before us became familiar with the notion that “no feedback is good feedback,” but millennials won’t settle for that. Give us constructive criticism – both positive and negative feedback – so we know how we are performing.
- We will challenge the norm
Our generation is constantly asking why. We want to know why things are done a certain way. We will question your values, morals, business practices, even standards, if they do not align with what we feel to be fair or reasonable. And this isn’t for us to sound like a disagreeable toddler – screaming “why?” and “that’s not fair!” It’s simply a need to know why things are kept constant, especially when we believe change is so desperately needed for us to progress as a society.
- We will work hard to prove you wrong
Despite our perceived generational “laziness” we are extremely hard workers. We are the underdog generation. We spend much of our time working beyond what is expected to prove to our bosses, coworkers, friends and even family that we are hard workers. Hey, we’ve got a pretty bad stereotype to bust!
- We are passionate about what we do
We didn’t spend 4-5 years going to school, racking up thousands of dollars in debt to do something we don’t really want to do. We might not always get our dream job right out of school, but you better believe we’ll take an unpaid internship, move across the country and sleep on a friend’s couch all summer to get the experience we need to eventually land a job in our field.
- Company culture is important to us
We want to work for a company that has values that align with ours, a place where we believe in both the day-to-day practices and the company’s end-goal. Millennials are changing the way companies are run and how employees are treated. Who’s to say we work better in suits every day? Who says a glass of wine at the end of the day hurts productivity? We are proving to the corporate world that we can do things our way and actually increase efficiency, all while doing work for a company where we feel valued as employees and produce work we are proud of.
- We work to live, not live to work
As I mentioned earlier, work is extremely important to us, but having a life outside of work is equally important. We value our passions and hobbies outside of work; we love to travel, explore and develop our personal interests and define ourselves not by what we do at work, but by our experiences out of the office. We want a life full of vibrant memories that don’t involve us sitting in front of a computer. Can you blame us?
- We are independent
Our generation has been taught from a young age to stand up for ourselves. We grew up knowing that the world was ours to conquer. Even as interns, we are leading the pack, and sometimes teaching our superiors a thing or two along the way. We don’t like to be micromanaged, either. Trust us to do our work, challenge us to take on broader responsibilities, and you won’t be disappointed.
- We crave flexibility
Millennials are turning the original 9-5, suit-wearing, cubicle job into a flexible, business-casual, work-anywhere environment. We love getting to make our own schedules and being trusted to complete our work and meet deadlines, whether we are sitting at our desk at the office or in a coffee shop across town.
- We will not settle
People like to think millennials job hop – which makes us an undesirable asset to some companies. But honestly, those people are looking at it all wrong. Unlike our parent’s generation, we are not content until we are at a place in life that we are proud of. If that means leaving a company with dated policies, little diversity, poor benefits and a crummy work environment, then so be it.
There are many misconceptions about millennials that paint us in a bad light. Business professionals, psychologists, anthropologists and others try to fit us in a box that just won’t hold our multi-faceted personalities. When I said earlier that I didn’t understand us, it wasn’t to say that I can’t understand why we are who we are, or why we are labeled in a sometimes negative way. I don’t understand us because we are all so different and unique. There are millennials who give our generation a bad name, but there also are many of us fighting every day to defy those stereotypes. Now, more than ever, as we enter the work force and become tomorrow’s leaders, please remember – we are not our stereotypes.