Kids these days.” At some point, nearly every adult will utter this phrase.
It’s a phrase used to express frustration with the generation of 20-something-year-olds, walking around in skinny jeans and furiously texting on their smartphones, who will one day inherit the world. It is part of the never-ending cycle of generation-bashing that probably dates back to the cavemen who scoffed at their spoiled, lazy kids because they had no idea what it was like to live in a world without fire.
The latest generation to suffer the scorn from their elders is the millennial generation. Born between 1981 and 2001, this is the first generation to come of age in the new millennium. Often, these young adults are described as narcissistic, lazy, addicted to social media, and coddled by their parents.
It is also the generation that has to deal with a high unemployment rate of 16.2 percent for young people between the ages of 16 to 24, and limited job prospects when they get out of college, because of growing competition and limited finances.
The assumption that millenials are entitled kids who can’t stand hard work is completely wrong. The reason millenials may not be as successful in the workplace as their parents will be because of the lack of jobs that offer a living wage for someone with limited experience.
Chris Kasbar, freshman business administration major, said that it is not fair for older generations to make these assumptions about the millennial generation because they don’t know what it’s like having access to technology and social media.
“You know that older generations would have been on their phones and on Facebook if they had it back then,” said Kasbar. “Also, a couple of decades ago, there weren’t as many people immigrating to the U.S. and going to college. So, for people in college now, there is a lot more competition when looking for jobs.”
A February 2010 USA Today report found that millennials are the most educated generation in U.S. history. While that seems like a positive thing, at what cost did this generation gain that education? Colleges and graduate schools cost money — insane amounts of money. The price of attending a public four-year college rose 54 percent from 1998 to 2008, so to pay for the education millenials took on massive debt — about $35,000 on average for each 2013 U.S. college graduate. Student debt wouldn’t be a huge problem if there were well-paying jobs waiting for college graduates, but millenials have the poorly timed misfortune of graduating right after one of the worst economic collapses in recent U.S. history.
Stephen Rafferty, freshman communication studies major, said that even though millenials are entering a world where it may be tough to find a job and the economy isn’t exactly where it needs to be, he believes that the millennial generation has found ways to get around that.
“I think there is opportunity anywhere,” said Rafferty. “Yes, there are more people and fewer jobs but if you want something bad enough than you are going to find a way to get it. I have my own business and have been working really hard to get it, and it is good to know that you have the opportunity to start you own business and be your own boss.”
Yet, for millenials in college, there are still many reasons to be optimistic. College offers many resources that students can take advantage of, before finding themselves with a diploma in hand and a resume lacking in experience.
Ian McArthur, career adviser in the Office of Career Development, said that the one thing students should look into while they are in college is getting internships.
“Internships are that invaluable experience you get while you are still in school to develop those real-world skills,” said McArthur.
According to McArthur, the National Association of College Student Employers does a survey of skills and qualities they look for in hires and work experience is not generally in the top five or even 10 on the list.
“Employers often look for hires with leadership experience who have a strong ability to communicate and can work well and effectively on a team,” said McArthur. “Analytical reasoning and critical thinking are things that are important that can be developed through internships.”
And yes, even though the argument can be made that the millennial generation is dependent on technology and social media, there are still many positive things that come from it.
Elizabeth Burbano, sophomore communication studies major, said, “Life is not just about what you know anymore, it is also about who you know and technology has helped to create a new form of networking.”
“The vast majority of the time, [social media] is a really positive thing,” McArthur said. “If used properly, can be such a powerful tool in the job search.
No matter what anyone says, the millennial generation is well-suited to bring out a positive social change. It’s also a highly collaborative generation. This makes them uniquely capable of going beyond what they know to relate with people all over the world.
As Tyler Lindauer, freshman musical theatre major, said, “This generation is full of people that will work hard and bust their butts. People who will go out and take the initiative to make something of themselves and I think that is pretty positive.”