I am considered to be a part of Generation Y, sometimes called “Millennials” (born between 1982 and 1991) – a tech-savvy generation defined by change and uncertainty, but also strength and resilience.
As children of Baby Boomers, millennials saw the highest rates of divorce, foster care and child abuse. We were shaped by September 11th, the rise of social media and the election of the first African-American president. After college, we entered into a struggling workforce and devastated economy.
The New York Times Magazine recently featured, “What is it about 20-Somethings?” in which Robin Henig explores why it’s taking so long for 20-somethings to “grow up.”
Henig calls Gen Y a “black box,” in which members fail to move out of their homes, launch a career, marry or have children. The article suggests that 20-somethings are “meandering,” and their adulthood is stunted for various reasons.
I beg to differ.
Yes, we’re unconventional. Many of us haven’t followed the same path as Baby Boomer or Gen X counterparts. Perhaps that’s in part because we’ve seen that system fail, and we face challenges new professionals of other generations have never had to face. For instance, we have faced a widespread recession during which Baby Boomers are not retiring, making it even harder to break into a field or work our way up the corporate ladder.
And yet, a Huffington Post article describes Gen Y as tirelessly optimistic, hardworking, humble and realistic. Many suggest that our generation is more proactive and passionate about social issues like AIDS, the environment, gay rights, immigration and war. Our generation has unique talents and experiences that will influence generations to come. We’re a generation that will, again, turn everything upside-down.
With both the positive and the negative aspects from these articles about millennials, I want to share 3 “P’s” I’ve learned in my own career path amongst other millennials,
- Patience: Because the economy is still shaky and companies are even more careful when hiring, it will likely take time—months, years even—before securing a job or promotion. Once you’re in a job, it also takes time to build up credibility and prove your worth. As more jobs open up and employers regain confidence in the economy, new jobs will be created. Hold onto that optimism, that’s our forte!
- Proactivity: We’re not a generation that will twiddle our thumbs. If an opportunity doesn’t come to you, be proactive in seizing opportunities like internships, continuing education, and professional development associations like PRSA to grow in your field.
- Professional Networking: Networking is a must when you’re a fledgling in the field. Social media and groups such as PRSA’sNew Professionals group can be great resources to begin with. Believe it or not, your Gen Y peers can be a great resource (if not now, later).
I’m proud to be part of such a strong, resourceful generation as a young professional. I have faith that we’ll soon prove that it’s not a matter of “growing up,” but a necessary culture shift with Generation Z—the “Internet Generation”—nipping at our heels.
Originally published by the Hoosier Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America