When I hear these millennial stereotypes in the workplace, I immediately think of Malala and Mark Zuckerberg. Young people are credible and capable, yet, we are either patronized or undermined by older generations. Perhaps, because that's how we've been socialized. Throughout our childhood, we were reminded to respect and listen to our elders, solely based on the fact that they were alive longer. [Tweet "Length of life is not equal to intellect or success, yet ageism continues to be so real."]
While in college, I became aware of how age could distort the perception that clients and my audience had of me. As I continued to build my brand, it would also affect their view on my competence to run a business. So I kept my age really vague, always referring to myself as a "20-something year old" to avoid saying 22. Years later, I let my guard down. I mentioned my age during a presentation, and all those feelings as a young 20-something came flooding back. Would they respect me less; would I lose the authority I worked so hard to build with people so much older than me? I think it ended up working out, because my work spoke for itself.
But why? Why should that be a concern? Millennials are receiving accolades that other generations have waited decades for. Clearly we are qualified, right?
Granted, I am well aware of the other extreme that exists within my peer group. The overconfident, I-can-do-anything-without-anyone, I-have-it-all-figured-out mentality. But, I find that those are few and far between.
[Tweet " Why do we millennials, especially women, have an age requirement to be successful?"]
I see the effects of this discrimination as I work to help young professionals build brands. They feel their opinion isn't warranted, and that their story has no place in the world. I always hear:
- But I don't have anything to say.
- I'm still too young.
- I haven't gotten far enough in my career.
- I need to get another degree before I can...
Blah, blah, blah, blah. When will we be allowed to be great? When are older generations going to stop turning their noses up at us? Is it because they feel threatened that we will take their jobs? Is it our sense of entitlement and optimism? I don't have all the answers, Sway. What I do know is, that we have impacted the workforce in a way no generation ever has before. We are asking and demanding more, and I am willing to be unpopular for the sake of creating change. Buzzfeed did a piece on the things that millennials are sick of hearing. Here is my response to some of those points.
Truths about Millennials in the Workplace
1. We know nothing about being working professionals.
Hello! We're too busy running companies and starting businesses. Of course we suck at building someone else’s dream. Exhibits A through F below.
- Evan Spiegel, founder of Snapchat
- Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, AirBnB founders
- Emily Meithner, founder of FindSpark
- David Karp, CEO of Tumblr
- Pete Cashmore, (the fineeeee) founder of Mashable
- Matt Mullenweg, founder of Wordpress
2. We are job hoppers and hard to manage.
I prefer to be called non-complacent job seekers, thank you very much. Chris Brown said “these girls ain’t loyal” and neither is the job market. We deserve to grow personally and professionally in a job we love, while getting paid what we deserve. We will not rest until we achieve that. Let us find “the one” in our career, just like we do in our love lives. If you thought dating in this generation was a nightmare, imagine trying to find the perfect job. It’s exhausting. Luckily, there are many strategies to help you land your dream job and we are mastering them.
3. We’re completely self-obsessed.
There are plenty of non-millennials who are utterly obsessed with themselves. Everyone and their mother, literally, is snapping photos for Facebook and doing it for the ’gram. Spare me the inaccurate narcissistic argument. Y’all (non-millennials) killed Facebook, that’s why we had to retreat to the Snap for refuge.
4. We are poor and unemployed.
This is very true. However, that's only because colleges lied to us about how great a liberal arts degree would be, and Sallie Mae is harassing us about these loans.
Let’s carry on shall we? We got these degrees like y’all wanted us to, now let us rock for a little while as we figure the rest out. It will all work itself out. Yep, that’s that millennial optimism speaking.
Chime in fellow millennials. Are you sick of the bad reputation we have been getting in the workforce? Do you think it's an accurate depiction of us?