The term “Millennial” is no stranger to the business world. Defined as those born between 1980 and the early 2000s, millennials, people ages 18-34, not only represent one third of the entire U.S. population, but also the majority generation of individuals actively operating in the workplace. Millennials supersede what it means to be one of six living generations in America, expanding far beyond the average generation of people, but instead representing an era of revitalized living and business practices.
How many times have we heard that history repeats itself? Millennials’ strong calling for innovation and entrepreneurship find roots from the mid 17th to 18th century “Age of Enlightenment”. A period of time in Western culture distinguished by revolutionary developments in science, philosophy, politics, and art. It was characterized by groundbreaking discoveries made by forefathers of science such as Galileo, Johannes Kepler, Robert Hooke, and the one and only Isaac Newton. Renowned academic writer and editor, Martyn Shuttleworth, stated that “The Age of Enlightenment was characterized by optimism, a feeling that humanity could change the world and rectify any mistakes of the past.” Just as these discoveries took and changed the course of history, so has the current development and evolution of technology, now called the “Information Age” or “Digital Era.”
Millennials are the children of this technological uprising. We are the ones reliving an era similar to that of The Enlightenment, seeking to use our niches to give meaning to all we do and know, a generation of purpose and innovation. In a report entitled “15 Economic Facts About Millennials,” the White House states that Millennials are more connected to technology than previous generations, and while all generations have experienced technological advances, the sheer amount of computational power and access to information that Millennials have had at their fingertips since grade-school is unparalleled.
Now that the average Millennial is in their mid-twenties, we are just now entering into the workplace. Many find residences in urban cities such as Manhattan, New Jersey, and San Francisco, where there are high numbers of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) career options available. Now, millennials currently have the largest representation in the workplace in America, and with that comes many correct and incorrect stereotypes. Some of the most common stereotypes about Millennials, and the validity of these stereotypes, include the following:
1. Millennials are job-hoppers.
TRUE. Much like that of a two-year-old child, Millennials have been depicted on numerous occasions as having a short attention span. Forbes reports that the expected tenure of a Millennial is two years, as they embrace a strong entrepreneurial mindset and they are often on the lookout for opportunities that can continue to move them up the ladder, even if that means up and out of their current position. It is found that most Millennials use their early to late twenties to discover the position that best suits them, and it’s not until around age 27 that their tenure is expected to increase.
2. Millennials are lazy.
FALSE. In a new study, it was found that although Millennials are often described as lazy, they struggle to work under 40 hours a week and usually work the most hours in the workplace. Millennials in India and China rank highest with an average of 52 hours a week, and the U.S. finds itself somewhere in the middle with an average of 45 hours a week worked by Millennials.
3. Millennials are irresponsible.
FALSE. While Millennials may spend more time getting an education, given the job-market, most millennials are calculated and make sound decisions based on the shape of the economy. Compared to previous generations, many Millennials wait until they’re financially stable to get married and start families. They are also staying at home, establishing themselves financially before venturing out on their own.
4. Millennials are a generation of true entrepreneurs.
TRUE. Not only is this true, but also many studies suggest that the millennials are doubling the amount of businesses started by our predecessors the Baby Boomers. “Millennipreneurs”, as described by Fortune magazine, are taking the business world by a storm having larger profit margins and employing more staff than any generation before us. We are the first generation that prefers taking the leap of faith through self-employment, rather than climb our way up a corporate ladder. No longer are individuals waiting until their mid-thirties to cash in on their dreams, with some Millennials have started as early as their teenage years. Having superstar Millennial entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerburg (26 years Facebook), David Karp (24 years old Tumblr), and Susan Greg Koger (25 years old ModCloth) only further encourage the drive and success within us all and remind us that we must be driven by purpose. If there is no deeper meaning or purpose to what we are doing, then why do it? As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Overall, Millennials play an essential role in this digital era. We have existed and witnessed for ourselves the enlightening innovations of our own Isaac Newton’s through companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google and many more. As history repeats in a new way we hopefully have learned from the trials and discoveries of those past and make a better future for those to come.
Written By: Ky Hayes,
Georgia State University Junior