There is a lot of attention being paid to Millennials right now. Some are calling it the entitled
generation, full of narcissists, devoid of responsibility but expectant of recognition. Others defend it,
saying that even aside from the sweeping generalizations, Millennials are probably not moving back
in with their parents because they’re too lazy to do their own laundry – they are college graduates
facing the worst job prospects since the Great Depression yet living under the weight of an
unprecedented $1 trillion in student debt.
In reality though, what we talk about when we talk about Millennials is not this generation in
comparison with Gen X or Boomers. We’re talking about the newest additions to the workforce, and
comparing them to their elders. When you control for age, the generations are overwhelmingly
similar, according to a study by psychologist Jean Twenge. All three prefer challenging, interesting
work over pay and status or leisure time.
I was recently told that half of the world’s population is under 25. I haven’t verified the fact but, if it’s
true, it has some serious implications. It means that the Boomers are not – or at least not for much
longer – steering public discourse. They would no longer hold the most influence over policy
decisions nor would their opinions shape the direction of social progress. Instead, this leviathan
population of young people, all of whom have the ability to use technology like a megaphone, are
the generation shaping global development – because they’re the ones that everyone is talking
about. How do policies affect them? What are their consumption patterns? What makes employers
look attractive to them?
If you think about it, you can already see the trends starting to change. More college grads than ever
are seeking out jobs in the nonprofit sector, and more still look for positions in companies with
strong CSR and employee engagement programs. As a result, the corporate philanthropy field has
never been more robust, and the “B Corporation” (and “Benefit Corporation”, which is different,
apparently) phenomenon is growing ever more quickly.
What does this mean for the Millennial? Well, for one thing, it means that it matters more what we
think of society than what society thinks of us. Don’t waste your time trying to convince people that
“My Super Sweet Sixteen” is not an accurate depiction of you. Do, however, be meaningful about the
career path you choose to follow and the work you choose to do. Hold on to your beliefs and keep
employers accountable for the social value they create in addition to the economic value. In the end,
it is society that will need to change to meet our requirements, not the other way around.
Hey Millennials, remember the good ol' days? You know, before the “Great Recession” made our lives difficult and uncertain?Before we had to worry about chasing “The American Dream,” even if it meant drowning ourselves in history-making student loan debt?
That's right. I'm (...)
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