#Upandcoming #Quarterlifer

Reclaiming the quarter-life crisis, one hashtag at a time

Common Misconceptions About The #millennials

One thing that really struck me while working at a coffee shop for two years, was the complete misunderstanding the generation of #millennials. For starters, nobody could fathom why a college graduate was working at a coffee shop. “What are you doing here?” people would ask me.

I remember one time a customer came up to me, and began complaining about the Occupy Movement, saying something along the lines of “Why don’t those lazy people just get a job?!”

Now, I’ll admit that the Occupy Movement, in a lot of ways, lacked legs to stand on and a clear agenda to accomplish. At the same time though, I couldn’t believe how much of a misunderstanding there was of the narrative of the folks in my generation. Let me try and debunk those misconceptions:


1) Service sectors are still made up of the same cross-section of #millennials without advanced degrees; and having an advanced degree means you can get  a fancy, adult-y job. 

No. Just no. The majority of the people I worked with had or were working towards Associate’s degrees or higher. My shift supervisor had a masters in Marine Biology. My manager had a masters in Education and German. A co-worker of mine was a graduate from a prestigious Ivy League school.

It was rare that I met someone in that particular line of work who’s dream it was to work at a coffee shop. Most, I found were in my same boat—jaded and discouraged with their job prospects and exhuasted from pursuing many options. Most, like me, were just trying to make ends meet in the only job they could find, and oftentimes just barely making it.

2) #Millennials who work service positions don’t want a “real” job because they hate “the system” or just don’t know where or how to look for a “real” job. 

Ok. False. A good number of #millennials I know would have taken a job at Goldman Sachs if it meant that they could afford something besides a Ramen and Easy Mac diet. Sometimes it even seems like you NEED a salary like that to cover all the debt that you racked up in school. 

I can’t tell you how many times people would try and offer me “helpful” tips like: “Have you tried LinkedIn?” “Have you looked into networking groups?” “Do you have an elevator speech?” “Have you heard of Indeed/HotJobs/CareerBuilder/Idealist/(Insert Job Site here). Yes. Yes. And Yes. #Millennials were RAISED on technology and can Google basically any job hunting group/tip you can name. What many need is just a chance to get their foot in the door.

And even if #millennials do hate the system and don’t want to be part of it, can you blame them? It’s a system that has worked to them in these situations.

3) #Millennials love to live at home, not work, and are lazy leeches who are too proud to get their hands dirty and jump into the “real world.”

This one is the kicker. Take me for example. When I graduated in 2009, I graduated into the worst economy since the Great Depression. I was VERY lucky to find my first job at an elementary school. Even with that wage though, I still needed to live at home for a year before I could afford to move out.

Do you understand how annoying it is to live at home as a 20-something pseudo adult? I mean, yes you have a bed, and heat, and food but at what price? If we want to talk about pride, choosing to live at home after college is basically the ultimate knock to your ego.

After I lost my first job due to budget cuts, I took on all sorts of odd jobs: baby/house/cat sitting, test correcting, etc in addition to job searching. I cashed out all the retirement I had built up over two years. When I finally was able to get a regular job as a barista (at $8.00/hour) I cried of joy.

Probably the biggest misconception I’ve encountered is that 4) #Millennials want the best, without wanting to put in the effort.

I think that we effort just looks a little different than people of past generations are used to seeing. I feel that #millennials take a lot of care thinking about how best to utilize our energy and time for the maximum benefit down-the-line.

While some people may see a trying to pay for a graduate education and working at a coffee shop as foolish, a #millennial might see as an investment in a career in the future. Flexible hours, such as at a service job, leave more time and mental space to expand horizons in other ways. Some may look at someone living at home at age 22, 23, or 24 as lazy, while a #millennial might see it as necessary in order to pay down big chunks of student loans so they can afford to live in an apartment in a year.

It’s so hard to listen to folks who say that #millennials are lazy, entitled, and not trying when I think about my own story.

And anyway, even if there’s some truth to these ideas, what’s so bad about a whole generation of people who expect the best of themselves, society, and others and are willing to wait patiently and try a bunch of different things in order to achieve that?

I think that value says a lot about what’s to come for this generation. What might the world look like if people never settled for something sub-par or mediocre and actually took time to think about how to achieve the best long-run outcome, rather than short-medium term stability?

Taken from The Generation we Love to Dump on by Matt Bors. http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/09/opinion/bors-millenial-comic-strip/index.html?hpt=op_t1