In March of this year, I participated in a Twitter Chat discussing millennials, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. One of the questions during the chat asked, “What are the biggest misconceptions about millennials?” The fact that a variety of participants listed off misconceptions makes for a double-edged sword. It is great that some of these professionals recognized the statements as misconceptions. However, in order to be a misconception, there must be individuals who still believe in those statements. Here is my breakdown of this situation and how millennials can start breaking apart from stigmas.
So, what’s the stigma out there?
Stigma: Millennials expect to be given opportunities and don’t want to work for those opportunities. The majority of responses to the question “What are the biggest misconceptions about millennials?” surrounded the topic of entitlement. Words like lazy, selfish and entitled swarmed the Twitter feed during the chat.
What are the facts?
The fact is millennials are taking over. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 80 million of us, and by 2025, we will make up 75 percent of the global workplace. So, breaking away from these stigmas is imperative moving forward.
What can we do to change the perceptions?
- Be respectful. We have to understand that we are growing up in a completely different—and much less formal—world than our seniors. Many of our seniors were not friends with their friend’s parents, let alone on a first-name basis with them. On the contrary, my best friend’s mother follows me on Instagram and prefers I call her by her first name. Though we may feel that we have a great amount of respect for our seniors, we need to be conscientious and mindful of how we show it.
- Get your feet wet first. I know we have great ideas—and they should be heard—but, take some time to listen, understand, and absorb things first. The reality is that the colleagues before us have been in the game longer and have extremely valuable insights. Take some time to listen and evaluate before trying to change anything.
- Find a mentor. There are many professionals willing to take you under their wing and help you along the way. They also will be able to give you honest feedback from a senior perspective.
What do you do to work against millennial stereotypes? Are there any other ways we can break away from the stigmas that surround our generation?