To me, what most defines a generation are the ways in which they are different from their parents. In the case of the Millennial, I see this difference most present in the way that we approach careers.
That is not to say that I didn’t inherit a deeply Irish Catholic work ethic (this does not mean I get drunk at work all day) but rather that I see a sense of responsibility not only in having and maintaining gainful employment, but that I feel a sense of responsibility to seek employment that makes a difference both inside and outside of the company I work for.
It’s hard to say if this mentality truly differentiates me from my parents, or their parents for that matter. Wouldn’t everyone shoot for an impactful career if they were given the opportunity? Maybe it’s not fair to say that generations past haven’t found this important, they simply had enough to worry about.
Lucky for me, I’m not alone in my Millennial thinking. I’ve even found an organization that revolves around this idea. Taproot Foundation is a nonprofit that engages skilled business professionals in the fields of HR, IT, strategic management and marketing in pro bono service for nonprofit organizations. What’s the difference between pro bono and traditional volunteering, you may ask? WELL, with pro bono, financial advisors are doing financial advising as opposed to painting fences or mowing lawns. This is not to say that fences don’t need painting, it’s just a question of resource allocation.
What I love about Taproot is that it provides an outlet for people like me to make their skills matter. Well, not exactly like me. These people are experts in their field. The point is people who want to drive change no longer have to be branded as granola-eating idealists with long dreadlocks. They can be regular people who followed their interests when building their career. What’s more, we provide the opportunity for people to give what they have. In this case, it’s skills, not money. How many times have you or someone you know lowered your gaze when someone asks you for a donation somewhere? Now, what if they had said “hey, could you help me think of a clever Twitter handle?” @wesome.
So, whether it’s me that’s different or my entire generation, I’m pretty into being a Millennial. I get to bring something of value to both business professionals and the nonprofit community. I get to help build a movement that redefines what “charitable giving” means. And I get to do all of this while going to “work” every day.
Emmett Mehan is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. He currently serves as Special Assistant to the President at Taproot Foundation and he is an MPA candidate at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He will be writing monthly blog posts on pro bono, the nonprofit sector, and what it means to be a professional in the new millennium. He will share new things that he’s learned each month and invites readers to do the same. While cool kids leave comments, he also welcomes email messages at Emmett@taprootfoundation.org.