After reading the 2008 article, The ‘Trophy Kids’ Go to Work by WSJ, I always get a little bit discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm of companies to hire millennials. I’ve saved this article and read over it every few months while I was in college in order to keep myself in check.
Unfortunately, there’s little I can do to make the Baby Boomer generation trust me over the thousands of other new college graduates. Judging by the fact I think I should be trusted over many of my peers, I obviously have the sense of entitlement our generation is so infamous for.
In our defense, we do work that hard. I have few friends for which everything came easily.
I started working at McDonalds when I was 16 and stayed there until the location I worked at closed down when I was 20. I held a second (and sometimes third) job every semester, and although my resume will say I worked in nearly five positions at the college newspaper, I stayed on the editorial staff and merely switched sections – not companies. Other semesters I was lucky enough to score a teaching assistant job with flexible hours, but since it’s more of a Fall class, it looks like I quit every spring for some unknown reason.
Why am I outlining my work schedule? Because I think it’s fair for the Baby Boomer generation to understand how far the millennials will really go to succeed. I was willing to work 40+ hours per week in addition to being a full time student because that’s what was required of me to graduate college without tens-of-thousands of dollars in debt. There are more like me being labeled as ‘entitled’ because after four years of sleeping five hours a night, we’d like a work-life balance.
Post-graduation, I moved back in with my parents, and for the first time, I’m actually living the way students are believed to in college. I go out on Tuesday if I want to and hit the gym after work because I have less responsibilities now. I’m not purely freeloading off my parents — I’m still paying bills and purchasing my own food much like I would if they were roommates and not parents, but the luxury of living rent-free is huge. Not only that, but my job requires much less responsibility than any of my old ones.
At McDonalds, I was as manager. I had actual responsibilities and wanted to do well for my team. At the paper, I was an editor for half of my college career. People depended on me and I was on-call to any writers or other editors 24-7. If a story fell through or a writer upset a source, I was there to fix it. As a teaching assistant, again, the hours were quite flexible, but I was on-call at all times to help students calling/texting/emailing their questions. I LOVED IT.
I loved being a busy-body that everyone depended on. I am 21, and I own a Blackberry, not an iPhone. I love being required to think, being at the top of the ‘call list’ and being responsible enough to help others.
Now, I’m barely more than a secretary paying-my-dues as everyone over 35 calls it, but isn’t that what I did in college? Isn’t that why I held management positions and took lower paying jobs that would be more relevant to my career than just working at McDonalds for 40 hours a week?
That free internship I worked wasn’t paying-my-dues? What about the paid internship? It seems to me that the older generation doesn’t count those internships as paying my dues because I didn’t hate them. Sure, I worked for low or no pay and made sure the arrive early and stay late, but to the Baby Boomers, paying your dues doesn’t come until you hate your job.
Is that really what it’s all about? It’s not the first job or the hardest that’s paying dues. It’s the one you can’t wait to get away from?
I want to enjoy going to work. For four years I went home (at midnight or later) with a sense of accomplishment. I hit the sack knowing I did something worthwhile. Now, post-graduation, I fly out the door as soon as I can and do anything but think about the work day because frankly, it’s nothing I’m proud of.
Katie Moritz, Managing Editor, and myself at our staff Christmas party.
Here’s what I want from employers. Call me spoiled. You’ve read this far because you want to know.
- Flexible work hours: Really though, don’t you think the morning commute would be much nicer if everyone’s schedule was more flexible? Say, come in between 7 and 9 a.m. – whatever fits your routine better. Also, the option to work four 10-hour days instead of eight 8-hour days would be fantastic.
- Benefits and 401K: I don’t need everything under the sun, but healthcare and a retirement plan would be great.
- Livable wages: I don’t expect to make $60,000 my first year out of college, but $30,000 seems fair.
- Responsibility: If you want a secretary you micromanage, hire one that’s less expensive. Also, I’m not looking for fast-track to CEO, just something I can be proud of when I leave.
- Independence: I’m excited to learn. I really, really am, but please allow me to learn a little on my own. I can handle it if you don’t watch my every move waiting for me to mess up.
- Feedback: This seems counterintuitive to independence, but I do want to know what you do and don’t like about my performance. My skin is thicker than you’ll give it credit for, and it’s great to know where I stand with my performance.
- Vacation: I’m not looking for much, but a week or two after working for a year would be nice. Part of my charm is my love for travel, and I can’t do that without a vacation.
- Productive atmosphere: Nobody want to walk on eggshells at work. I’d like to be able to disagree with the creative team or editorial board without hurting feelings, but I believe too much groupthink is negative.
- Lunch: If we’re busy, I don’t mind taking half an hour or postponing lunch, but an hour most of the time would be great.
On using cell phones and social media at work. It’s rude. I’m not going to do this on your time. Lunch is different. So is the rare occasion when a loved one is in the hospital and I’d like to be on high-alert. Regularly, I want to enjoy my job and really throw myself into it — without my personal life getting in the way.