Saturday, October 24, 2009

Millennials and Me

(Background: This piece was written for my journalism class. We were told to write a magazine-style article regarding some facts about the Millennial Generation. I got an A+ on this!)

          For me, I believe this job is not just a job. It, along with a college education, will blast me off into a future career where I know will succeed. So here I find myself sitting in my manager's office again, asking questions, getting feedback, forcing him to peel his eyes off of the spreadsheets on his computer screen. I can tell he's busy, and, by the look in his eyes, sense that he wants me to shut up and get out. But I trudge on in conversation anyway, bringing up issue after issue in great detail. Sometimes I offer solutions to fix them. Other times wanting him to give me more time and more direction to complete my current project. I need to hear someone tell me I'm doing a good job and he needs to hear my ideas on how to strengthen our team. I push for having casual relationship with authority figures since I need to feel at one with others. I want him to say that my efforts and my daily grind are not invisible. I simply require attention, and I want it all done right now. According to Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of “Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation,” that’s what make's me a Millennial.

          We want to take on everything; we want to take on the world. The authors say that the people of my generation carry an expectation of receiving constant, positive feedback, were overprotected as children, and struggle with free time and generally have poor time management skills. We simply take on too much and complain when things aren’t working our way, and expect others to be flexible. But my generation, now known historically as the “Millennial Generation,” is one of optimism and ambition. In the work place, we want to be part of the team and to see the larger benefits of our everyday tasks. These are the only a few of the characteristics that help to define a generation raised on convenient technological gadgets. But how do these qualities, or flaws, translate into practical job skills as our generation begins to take over the workforce?

          The Millennials are notorious for being multi-taskers. Doing our homework while toggling through iTunes, Facebook, and YouTube is the only way we know how to be “productive.” We are driven by convenience. We can catch up with old friends and watch the latest episode of American Idol all while writing a final thesis paper at two in the morning. Members of previous generations may say that this reduces the quality of our work, or that this is not the right way to manage our time wisely. We think that we can do it all. We celebrate our achievements, big or small, and show confidence in ourselves.

          However, should employers look at multi-tasking as a value-added skill? At the hotel I work in, for example, I have my iPod playing while assigning room numbers and dealing with guest complaints on the phone all at the same time. Technology allows me to do all of these tasks. I feel I can get more done in ten minutes than most people do in an hour. Sure, I sometimes feel with a lot going on I am bound to lose track of something. But, I know my co-workers are always there to pick up the slack.

          Strauss and Howe also say that Millennials are team oriented. At least ninety percent of the staff I work with are of the Millennial generation and we pride ourselves on being a tight-knit bunch. We focus more on how to make the team closer rather than making individuals stand out as a leader. I’ve seen this in myself with a promotion I received recently. I address my staff as my “team” and though I have a leadership title, I will always see myself as one of them. In every action I take, I do not only want to improve my leadership skills, but look to develop the overall skills of my team. When I accomplish a task, I never fail to give them credit. Because of the relationships we are building, I think the management team catching on.

          In the sense of communication style, team work, and leadership, I think the workplace environment is beginning to take a new shape for the Millennials. My boss is learning to make connections and to communicate more with the young staff. The entire management team in general has been working on plans for team-building events to get to know one another. They put us in positions that require one to multi-task, and most of the time we are being productive. What’s important to Millennials is that we are all connected, all the time. We need to see the bigger picture and we require a sense of purpose and belonging.

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