As I went through college and started to enter the working world I heard the term Millennial, but at the time I was so disconnected from it that I never paid attention. I went to college in a bubble known as Ashland Oregon, where real world problems were a distant thought and generation gaps didn’t seem real.
When I left college and moved back to my small town in Nevada, I started paying more attention to the news, Facebook and what people around me were saying. My newly found attention was either because I had more free time on my hands without hours of homework and studying, or it was because I was now living with my dad and had access to the internet and TV, which were two luxuries I had been without for a few years.
I started to hear what people were saying about millennials, how they were “lazy” and “entitled”. There was an unbelievable shame building up in me because I bought into what was being said about MY generation. I started to feel like I was lazy and entitled, and exhausted because I focused on this negativity for a long time.
While trying to get a job in my line of education, marketing, I was working at a doctors office as a medical assistant. Many of my patients shared these opinions about my generation with me and I smiled and nodded like an utter fool because I didn’t have the knowledge to defend myself. At this same time I was working Thursday through Saturday at night dealing cards at a casino, trying desperately to pay for my student loans and all the other bills I had.
I maintained this schedule for three years, on and off. I would work a full time job and work at casino’s to build up my savings account and once that was all gone, I would start submitting more dealer applications. I was very fortunate that my dad let me live with him for $400 a month, so long as I paid for my own groceries and supplies. There were a few times, when money was really tight, that he would let me skip the rent and to this day I still owe him $1,200 (Don’t worry Dad, I haven’t forgotten).
It wasn’t until I went back to school to get my MBA that I realized I wasn’t lazy or entitled, and I saw the same diligence and self worth in my peers. I worked myself sick for three years to try and prove to older generations, and some of my own, that I wasn’t lazy, entitled, apathetic, disinterested, or selfish. However, this journey I was on taught me one very important lesson, that we, the millennials, need to lead by example, and show the world what we are capable of.
The world of business has been drastically altered since millennials entered the workforce and I believe that the business world is the best place to help gain understanding and cooperation between millennials and the older generations. This relationship isn’t about them understanding us, or us understanding them. It’s a mutually involved relationship that will only become more important in the next few years as the tail end of millennials exit school and join the rest of us in the working world.