Kids These Days

Look, I’ll be real here: the word ‘millennial’ kind of makes me want to barf, and my nausea is only increased when said word is followed up with phrases like, “don’t know” or “don’t understand.” Still, this article by Kelley Holland over at CNBC, What millennials don’t know about the job market, is not that bad.

That title is not 100% accurate. A better version would be, ‘millennials, the working world, and the friction therein.’ It’s not a list of important things to learn as you start looking for jobs; it’s more about the problems in a traditional workplace created by the millennial mindset.

Really, did I just type “millennial mindset”? Sorry, hold on a minute, I just threw up all over my computer.

Or, actually, are millennials the problem? Some of the stats that Holland cites seem a bit inconclusive to me. For example:

In a study commissioned by Bentley University, 74 percent of the non-millennials surveyed said they believed millennials did not have the same work ethic as previous generations, but 89 percent of the millennials said they have a strong work ethic. Also, 70 percent of those beyond the millennial years said millennials should be more willing to “pay their dues.”

What does that mean? Are millennials not hard workers? Or does their casualness with technology (which, as the article points out many times, is certainly a strength) give the impression of a certain nonchalance that others don’t appreciate? I really don’t know, and you know what, I don’t care.

Here’s the deal: we’re not there yet. Some day, even some day very soon, our outlook and approach might be the norm in corporate culture. But it isn’t today. Work ethic is a malleable term. It means different things to different generations. When you’re just getting started in the working world, you need to understand the meaning of ‘work ethic’ where you are employed and conform to it or go somewhere else.

But this isn’t to say you’re stuck putting on your game face every time your supervisor walks by. This is just to get started. As you build up clout and deliver results, the people you work with will trust you more, and so you’ll be freer to be yourself. I know because I’ve been there. I started out cautious and eager-to-please and now I’ve settled into a place where I feel comfortable disagreeing and speaking my mind because my boss knows I have the company’s best interests in mind.

So check out the article and think about what you can do to avoid creating the impression that you’re a lazy youngster who thinks you deserve to go places without biding your time. And if you need some more help navigating office culture, check out this post and this post.

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