Britten Wolf has become a great friend after meeting through Twitter and maintaining weekly calls about PR, social media and how to best take over the world one day. We cannot recall the first time we discussed the opportunity for a guest post, but I’m excited the day has finally arrived. My conversations with Britten bring new perspective to my everyday and leave me motivated to push on in this thing they call the real world.
The world has changed. Cable television, the internet and smartphones have transformed the way we live and do business. Today’s world moves fast. We, as millennials, have been raised in the fast lane and totally immersed in this technology since we were born.
We helped our parents, the baby boomers, set the time on their VCRs, showed them how to use email and explained to them that Twitter is more than a place to tell people what you are doing. They have had to adapt and learn to use this new technology. This technology has come into their lives at an alarming rate, bringing a learning curve and skepticism for it.
New technology brings new expectations. We expect we will never get lost because of the GPS in our cars. We expect that we will never be out of contact because our smartphones connect us to anyone with our phone number, email address or Twitter handle. We expect everything to move as fast as a Google search, but it doesn’t.
There have been numerous articles, from a variety of sources including CNN and the Harvard Business Review, pointing out the differences between the millennials and the baby boomers. The common thread between them seems to be millennials’ sense of entitlement. How we feel that we deserve things we have not earned. How we expect employers to cater to our needs. How we expect the perfect job.
Frankly, it’s bullshit.
First, let’s take a step back and look at how we were raised. From day one, our parents told us that we could be whatever we wanted to be. Games rewarded participants, not winners. Our parents said that good grades would get us into a good college, and a good college would get us a good job. In the system that raised us, the sky was the limit. They conditioned failure out of us.
Now, let’s fast-forward to the real world. Let’s look at today’s expectations and look at what employers expect from us. They want the same today as they wanted from our parents before us. Do more with less. Do more for less. Work longer hours than ever before. These expectations aren’t new to the workforce, but we are.
Hit face-first with the harsh realities of the real world, we are quick to find that the jobs we were lead to believe we’d have, aren’t there. There are fewer jobs than ever before and the competition for those jobs is fierce. This game only rewards winners; there is no prize for second-place. Because of this, thousands of us college-educated millennials are under-employed or sit without a job, gamed by the system that raised us.
A lucky few of us make the cut. We’ve worked non-paid internships and started careers at a reduced-rate, just to get into the game. Employers want more for less, and we understand that. It’s Business 101. Employers expect us to work long hours. We can do that too. We are enthusiastic, optimistic and ready to work, energized by the fact that we have a job.
With our smartphones, laptops and iPads, we can work from anywhere and at any time. We are always online, reading, researching and learning as much as we can. We are reaching out, connecting and networking with friends, peers and experts. These new connections give us new ways of learning and enable us to gain knowledge faster than ever before. This knowledge coupled with technology empowers us to make change.
Change not only our industries, but change our lives and change the world.
To bring about this change, we feel entitled to use tools like the internet and social media at work. It is our lifeline to our connections and the world’s knowledge. We’re always on, so we feel entitled to start later than 8am, because we are working far longer than when quitting time rolls around at 5pm. Our educational system taught us that everyone has a valuable opinion and we should work as a team. So we feel entitled to have opinions and to speak up with them. Examples like these are endless, but the bottom line is that our entitlement stems from how we were raised.
We were raised in today’s technology. We were raised in a system without failure. We were raised to think we are valued.
But, we cannot blame technology, the economy or a system for where we are today.
We have to blame ourselves, both millennials and baby boomers alike.
As millennials, we need to wake up. We have been living a lie for the past twenty plus years. There are no guarantees of jobs after college or even jobs at all. Don’t blame your parents. They couldn’t foresee where we are today. During their time, the sky was the limit and it’s what they instilled into us. That optimism is still there, and we can still change the world. It’s just going to be longer and harder than ever before.
Baby Boomers need to accept reality. We, as millennials, are just as they were at this age: young, eager and at times, reckless. They need to capitalize on our technological savvy, invigorate themselves with our fresh ideas and renew themselves with our optimism. They also need to be prepared to pay us for it. We can be just as loyal and hard working as the generations before us. There will be some catering and some concessions, but this isn’t millennial entitlement, it’s progress.
Britten is a public relations and social media professional, somewhere in Middle America. He is the editor of DED Music blog and loves Manchester United FC, pints of Guinness and his friends. Find him on Twitter at @brittenwolf.