Career Advice for Twenty-Somethings (Part Two): The Millennials

My posts these days are about giving career advice to twenty-somethings, mainly because my daughter is a twenty-something. She is a card-carrying member of the millennial generation.  According to the Pew Research Center (click the image below to read their report), my daughter and the other 77  million people in this age group share the following characteristics:

They use technology differently. They use their cell phones as computers and their computers like televisions. Social networking isn’t something they do, it’s a part of who they are.  The live on-line and connected to their friends and family.  Their cell phones are an appendage and always close by.

They value education. Millennials are on track to become the most-educated generation in our nation’s history. They are choosing college over military service.  College applications the last few years have skyrocketed and applicants faced stiff competition from their peers.

They are optimistic about their economic futures. Even though they are suffering in the recession and have one of the highest unemployment rates in decades for their age group, they believe they will eventually meet their long-term financial goals.

They value their relationships with their parents. They don’t mind having to live with their parents, because they get along well with them. They are also old-fashioned in how they think about parenthood and marriage, even though they were more likely to have been raised in single-parent households and have children out of wedlock.

They are more tolerant of diversity. They were raised in a multi-cultural world and tend not to think of others as being black or white or straight or gay. They don’t like to put labels on themselves or others. They are the only generation that favors the legalization of gay marriage.

They see their bodies as a canvas, and tattoos and body-piercings are how they paint. Millennials are more likely to have a tattoo, and if they have a tattoo, they are more likely to have more than one.  They are also more likely to have a body piecing in a place other than an ear lobe, particularly among their women.

Their attitudes and behaviors toward work are not gender-based.  Males and females of this generation want the same thing.  There is not a huge disparity in how men and women think about their careers and what they want to get out of life.  In fact, millennial women are now more likely than to have a college degree than millennial men.

These characteristics impact twenty-somethings’ views about how they work, where they work, who they work for, and what they want out of life.  They are important things to keep in mind if you want to provide them advice they can use and will value.

7 thoughts on “Career Advice for Twenty-Somethings (Part Two): The Millennials

  1. I’ve thought about this post a lot. Some of it I agree with, and some of it I hope is true but don’t have any reason to believe. It is definitely true that the relationship between the generation coming of age and its parents is very different from when I grew up in the so-called “Generation Gap,” when you couldn’t trust anyone over thirty and the squares had nothing to teach. It was, of course, ridiculous, but the split was very real. Now it certainly does seem that kids think their parents have something to teach them, which is a bit of an interesting irony in relation to your post, since the working world they’re entering has changed massively from the one many of us experienced.

    They have to value education, because it’s become the absolute yardstick by which people are measured in our corporate culture. In my own job searches, it doesn’t matter what I have done or accomplished – if I don’t have the specific academic credential that has been set up as the desired attribute, I can’t get past the electronic gatekeepers to even apply. In my daughter’s chosen field, she may as well plan on going straight through for her master’s because she’ll have to get it eventually or be passed over by the people who have decided that hiring can be done through algorithm. This is not a good thing.

    I hope it’s true that they are more tolerant of diversity, but I just don’t know that that’s true. I grew up behind the civil rights movement, and while there has been a tremendous amount of improvement, I don’t see that racism has disappeared or necessarily even diminished all that much. I continue to be shocked by the things I hear from people my age and younger, and am especially shocked by their assumption that someone who shares their skin color must share their attitudes. I hope you’re right, but the things I hear don’t suggest that the young generation is immune to prejudice.

    As for tattoos, I’m going to continue to be old-fashioned. Our kids laugh at the gigantic glasses we all wore in our high school and college photos, and I remind them that glasses can be changed — tattoos are a permanent stupidity.

  2. Thinking is good. This post is about what the Pew Research Center found in its study, and my own observations. I am pretty sure all of it is subject to debate.

  3. I think a lot of the diversity issue may be as subject to geography as demographics. In places like Los Angeles, immense diversity was a given. In the Finger Lakes, diversity meant somebody had a different colored pickup truck.

    Heck, back when I was in school, my friends from eastern NC would come up to the Hudson Valley and be bowled over by all the exotic Italian and Jewish girls in the clubs we’d haunt. That was a while back, granted, and the overall trend is a more widespread diversity, but I don’t think it’s a given that a twenty-something in flyover land is as tolerant of diversity as one in Brooklyn or Santa Monica.

    • Probably not. The Pew Research Study was designed to compare the attiitudes of Millennials at ages 18 to 28 to those of Gen Xers and Boomers at the same age (if available) or currently, when relevant. I think it is fair to say that this generation is more likely to be exposed to and therefore is more tolerant of people who are different than we were at this age.

  4. Pingback: Career Advice for Twenty-Somethings (Part Three): Navigating a Bad Economy « INDIE ALBANY

  5. Pingback: Career Advice for Twenty-Somethings (Part Four): Go Make a Plan « INDIE ALBANY

  6. Pingback: Career Advice for Twenty-Somethings (Part Five): Fire Up Your Dreams « INDIE ALBANY

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