How to get Millennials off your lawn

thomasThe “Millennials are ruining everything!” thinkpiece is a tired trope that never seems to go away. Nearly every major news outlet has run at least one column or essay lamenting the Millennial’s work ethic, selfie habits, entitlement, apathy, sex lives, tendency to use the word “literally” when we really mean “figuratively” and more.

These essays are usually written by crotchety, aging Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers, who seem to be extremely worried that the children they raised are turning out to be a pampered bunch yearning to get rich quick.

To paraphrase “Game of Thrones,” you know nothing, Boomers.

 

 

The New York Times’ latest in its continuing magnum opus cataloging the trials and tribulations of the world at large trying to deal with Millennials discusses, among other things, surveys indicating that our elders think Millennials currently joining the workforce “lack the attitudes and behaviors needed for job success.”

Additionally, reports (which I’m sure went through a rigorous process of peer review) say that Millennials “don’t have a strong work ethic … (are) not motivated and don’t take the initiative … (are) undependable and not committed to their employers… (and) need constant affirmation.”

This is interesting to me, considering the vast majority of my fellow Millennials with whom I come into contact are bright, hard-working and industrious, staying up past midnight working on assignments, in addition to jobs and internships, attending classes and participating in on-campus activities. We’re all looking to make connections, improve our skills and better ourselves during our brief time in college.

Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School, told the Times that “attitudes toward work and career had not changed significantly since the baby boomers came of age in the 1960s.”

So despite the fact that there is little, if any, evidence to indicate Millennials and our elders are significantly different, there is a widespread anti-Millennial bias.

According to the Times article, “More than half of corporate recruiters rated recent college graduates with a grade of C or lower for preparedness; nearly seven in 10 said young workers were difficult for their organization to manage. The Pew Research Center found that more than half of college presidents thought today’s students were less prepared and studied less than students did a decade ago.”

Well, now I’m convinced. The writer of the article recruited a few currently employed Millennials to disparage their peers and reassure readers of our many failings, while making sure to point out that the interviewees were gainfully employed and clearly thought of themselves as the exception that proves the rule of Millennial worthlessness.

“(Millennials) were raised believing they could do whatever they wanted to, that they have skills and talents to bring to a job setting,” said Cliff Zukin, a public policy professor at Rutgers University. “When they’re lucky enough to get a job, they’re basically told, ‘Be quiet, you don’t really know anything yet.’ For a lot of them, this is a tremendous clash between their expectations and the reality of the job.”

Zukin also insists that Millennials are “
the most affirmed generation in history” — got that? In all of history, we’re absolutely the worst. Ever.

If that’s the case, consider who raised us: Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers.

If only our elders would put down their anti-Millennial magazine articles, take off their reading glasses and get off our lawns.

Reach the columnist at skthoma4@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @savannahkthomas