In my work with clients and the emails I get from you, the reader, I’m frequently asked the same questions. One of the most common questions I get is, “What’s going on with this new generation of workers, the Millennials?” Employers, older co-workers just don’t understand how younger people tick. Since the workplace is becoming more and more multi-generational, I figured I would go to the source and find out what makes the Millennial generation different. While visiting the Baldwin Wallace University Center for Innovation and Growth, I found a shining example of the Millennial generation of the workforce. I’ve asked Erin Amschlinger to contribute to Market Leadership Journal on a regular basis to keep all of us apprised on what our new workforce is thinking. These articles should help all of us work together more easily.
Please join me in welcoming Erin to the staff of Market Leadership Journal!
I guess I’ll start by introducing myself. My name is Erin Amschlinger and I am currently a senior at Baldwin Wallace University. I study Economics and Creative Writing, and met Tripp last month when he stopped by my campus workplace, BW’s Center for Innovation and Growth. Here, I work on consulting projects with local Cleveland businesses. Tripp asked me to write a bit about my generation and its emergence into the working world, so here are some perspectives from my college-aged friends and me on the matter.
I was born in 1992, and besides memories of watching Wayne’s World on VHS, am part of what many people refer to as the “Millennial” generation. Though the Millennials cover a large range of birth years, we seem to have a lot of stigmas attached to our age group. The terms “entitled” and “self-absorbed” are tossed around a lot to describe us. I can’t speak for my entire generation, but I don’t think we’re all as bad as we are sometimes made out to be. With this article, I hope to give a different, perhaps more personal perspective on the Millennials and what we’re looking for as we begin to enter into the working world.
What makes a “Millennial” and how did this shape us?
A benchmark often used to measure the Millennials is 9/11, but I feel its actual impact on us is overlooked. I was 9 years old when the attacks occurred, and remember watching the smoking Twin Towers on the news for weeks. This image has been etched into my mind ever since. In fourth grade, I wasn’t old enough to know about foreign policy or politics. All I knew was that there were people somewhere from a place I had never been to who hated me for where I was born.
I think this was the point for me, and probably many others, where I started really paying attention to the world around me. When an attack of this magnitude comes and tears open the comfort of the world you know, you have no choice but to react. Many in my generation did react, by looking at the world with a much more global mindset. I’ve noticed my age group has a tendency towards foreign affairs, be they international business, politics, etc. and gravitate towards companies with these values.
At the same time, these events served as a reminder that security is more or less an illusion. I feel these anxieties follow us into the working world. Why should I put my heart into a company that may not return that loyalty if there’s a layoff in the near future? Especially in a job market this tumultuous and oversaturated with college degrees, job safety is hard to come by. Us Millennials react by being flexible. If we find one workplace isn’t the right fit, or doesn’t treat its employees with respect, we aren’t afraid to move on and explore other options.
What are we like as people?
It would be a little ridiculous to say everyone in a generation shares the same personality traits. But there are a few traits I can say that my friends, classmates, and I tend towards. Most of us are creative people. We seem to prefer flexible environments and seek workplaces that value quality of work produced over quantity. Why come in 9-5 everyday if you can produce the same amount of work in three hours on your own time? We also enjoy the challenge of solving problems. Give me a real issue to tackle that takes innovation and brainpower over busywork any day.
We also strive to make some kind of difference, no matter how small, in the world around us. In line with this, we value organizations that do the same, that work for the greater good of society. We seek fairness in the workplace, as well. Regardless of religion, gender, race, etc., we believe people should be treated as people. If a company is sensitive to their employees’ needs (religious holidays, time off for a sick loved one, etc.), I would be willing to take a lower salary to work there. Overall, if we feel valued as individuals, and as if our careers complement our lives instead of running them, we will do whatever we can to perform well for our organization.
How has technology impacted us?
Another historical event that our generation has grown alongside of is the technological leap forward brought about by the internet. The Millennials are great at using technology because we grew up with it. With the power of the internet, we can connect with the rest of the world, and are coupled with the mindset to want to. However, this is also where I feel many of our stereotypes come into play. Despite our ability to communicate, we at times use it as a tool for isolation. I fear sometimes we forget the true beauty in face-to-face interaction. But the internet is still a relatively new tool, and I have faith that in time, we will learn to strike a balance.
What advice do you have for us?
So now that I’ve spoken about my generation from my perspective, I’d like to leave you with a question: What would you tell your twenty-something year old self if you could speak to them at your current age? About work? About life in general? My friends and I are graduating this May, and any advice is readily appreciated!
Erin Amschlinger is a am senior at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio. My majors are Economics and Creative Writing and my minor is Spanish. During my time at BW, I have taken advantage of international opportunities, including studying in Seville, Spain my sophomore year, and conducting economic research in China last summer. I hope to include travel and writing into my future career.