By Lizzy Tahsuda, Manager of Career & Professional Development at UNCG’s Bryan School of Business & Economics
I am a proud millennial. That phrase may seem contradictory since for many, the “m” word is surrounded by stereotypes that portray an entitled twenty-something. However, I am proud to be a millennial and I make it known each and every time I speak about generational research.
Not all young adults appreciate being categorized as millennials. I’ve had countless conversations with millennials who get frustrated by being put into a box. During these conversations, I like to point out that the desire to feel unique is a common trait of this generation, to which some people laugh and others roll their eyes. Historically, categorizing people by generation wasn’t meant to confine people to a box. Instead, it was a way to connect people through their shared experiences as they were coming of age, which in turn, can create similarities. While these similarities can be cast as stereotypes, they can actually help us understand what makes each generation tick.
For example, during the recession in 2008, millennials most likely watched their parents work exceedingly long hours and face dangerously high stress levels for a job deemed unstable. Therefore, research shows that millennials are suspicious of job security and are unwilling to sacrifice their lives for work. In the workplace, these characteristics have been stereotyped as noncommittal and lazy. However, if you dig deeper, you’ll find that millennials have a strong work ethic. In fact, the value they place on work-life balance has actually been found to increase productivity.
The point I’d like to make is this: When millennials dissociate themselves and discount generational stereotypes as false or unfair, they miss an opportunity to explore the reasons behind the labels, and the chance to educate others on the strengths that make this cohort an asset.
To the millennials reading this, be proud to be a millennial. Don’t let the stereotypes make you feel less than. Instead realize that your desire to be different is a characteristic that makes your generation great.
Shine bright, little snowflake!