My name is Samantha Walters and I am what you would consider a “millennial executive” over here at Colocation America. Every Monday (get it, get it, Samantha on Mondays – the S.O.M column) I will write a little something on whatever is on my mind from business practices to current events and everything else in between.
This week’s topic – being a millennial.
The Woes of Being a Millennial in Business
Let’s start of by agreeing that age is but a number. With that said, we judge people based entirely on that one detail of who they are. Think about it—a person who appears to be, say, under the age of 30 walks into an executive meeting, what do you think? Chances are you have a preconceived notion of how and why that person is there. Perhaps your first instinct is to assume they are the secretary or, on the other side of the spectrum, you assume they were some kind of child genius who worked their way up the latter. Either way, you assumed something about them based on their age.
Which brings me to woe #1:
Woe 1: The Assumptions about Millennials in the Workforce
Surprisingly, people love talking to me about “millennials like myself.” As the spokesperson for all millennials, I enjoy lengthy conversations with people who have worked longer than I have been alive telling me about what “we” are doing. For one, we millennials keep jumping from job to job and show no loyalty to our employers.
This is false.
According to the US Government’s report 15 Economic Facts about Millennials, millennials are staying with their early-career employers longer than Generation X workers did at the same age. Apparently us Millennials have longer job tenure, fewer employer switches and transitions, and, overall, lower fluidity in the labor market. Essentially, employers who hire Millennials are more likely to have a loyal, longtime employees on their hands, image that!
Once in a job, I am sure many Millennials, like myself, find that they get a never ending slew of questions about technology. Now I don’t mean server fixes or bandwidth questions (keyword stuffing, why not?!), I mean the questions about how to sign out of a program, use Word, and/or answer any IT question that can be answered with a quick Google search.
Woe 2: Being a Digital Native in the Workforce
No matter the place or the job, I get an endless amount of questions about technology. For example, I am the go-to person on all things smartphone related. Before I Google it, I wonder “why me?” and of course the answer is that I grew up in a world with internet and smartphones – an “always-on digital world.” According to an awesome Infographic on Millennials by Goldman Sachs, Millennials are more likely to do everything online then any generational counterpart.
However, does that mean we should handle all of the little tech problems? Sadly, yes or rather it will happen anyways. In all honesty, chances are we do understand how to fix the problem (or at least understand the instructions) and can do it more efficiently than, say, a Baby Boomer. Although I may not enjoy this part of my job and it may take away from other tasks, I am got used to it. So does anyone need help with their iPhone?
Down that same line of thought, Millennials are plagued by constant contact to coworkers, bosses, friends, and family members. Thanks to social media, I now know that you are eating a snack while reading this ah-mazing article (self-promotion, yes please!). But guess what, you may not be able to even find me online unless I give you a link like this: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samanthawalters
Woe 3: Keeping it Social in the Workforce (#IUnderstandHashtags)
Depending on the size of a company, businesses tackle social media a variety of ways. For some, there are entire teams dedicated to giving the right online persona of the company while others may settle for their best friend’s uncle’s daughter who has a couple of social media profiles and understands hashtags to handle the social media accounts for the company. Now don’t get me wrong, I started my career as a social media consultant because some family friend needed someone who understood social media to “just handle whatever that is.” So to the Millennials who work in social media, I salute you.
But let’s be real, there is a difference between business and personal social media.
Many people may be surprised to hear that I am not really THAT active on social media. Ok, you’re right, I do have a profile on nearly all social media sites. According to PewResearchCenter’s series on the Millennial Generation, I am just another statistic – 75% of Millennials have created a profile on a social networking site. The difference is how I use my social media accounts; I assume that people who do business with me are looking at me online. I have been in more than one meeting where a person has said “yeah, your LinkedIn profile said you were interested in…”
So what’s the woe? Well, I am more than just my social media profile. Plus, I do not really want to communicate with you via a social media outlet. Granted, I may be in the minority on this one but I want to actually talk to you in person or, thanks to globalization, over the phone; I want to know who you are offline. At the end of the day, I can figure out more about someone in the 10 minutes I speak to them then in 10 months of reading their Twitter feed. The trick with social media is that I can show/tell exactly what I want to and hide the rest. For all you know, I may share dog videos because I love dogs or, in reality, my dog may be only friend in the world – you may never know!
Again why is this a woe? As a Millennial people often believe that my social media activity defines who I am and to others, I may not be able to hold a conversation. Just because I grew up with social media and understand it does not mean I can only communicate through it. Then again, why don’t we jump on Twitter and have a conversation about your feelings on social media?
To Sum it Up: We are more than a Label
The term Millennial is used to define anyone born in 1980 and beyond. Really, it means much more than that. As with all words, Millennial only holds value and meaning as dictated by society; it is society that defines and gives meaning to terms like Millennial and it must be society that redefines it.
I urge you to change your thinking of Millennials.
For those of you who don’t know any, go talk to a few, we are kind of interesting. To those of you who only know other Millennials, go talk to people from other generations, I promise they know a lot and can teach you plenty.