Millennials: Not a One-Size-Fits-All Group

This post is in response to “Open Letter to the Millennials” by Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications and “Dear Millennials, Your Parents Lied to You” by Bill Sledzik.

I have to admit: On first read of both of these blog posts, I felt attacked and hurt (Can you guess I am of the Millenial variety yet?). I also felt that I needed to defend myself and my generation. I know I was not a particularly pampered youth. Well, maybe I was to a certain extent, but I never felt I was given awards I did not deserve. Growing up dancing in the competitive studio world, only winners were given trophies. I never belonged to a soccer team where every member was handed a trophy “because you tried really hard this season, and even though you never made a goal, you are a winner in our eyes.” I felt rejection left and right from all of the awards I never won, and the awards I saw some of my best friends regularly win. My senior year of high school, I finally received a coveted “Gold” on my dance solo. While I felt proud, I still felt incredibly self-conscious about my dance abilities. Having lost repeatedly throughout the years, one gold was not going to change that. I still am self-conscious to this day.

While I think both of these men offer great insights into things that we Millennials should change about ourselves and do to make it in the current PR industry, I think both missed the fact that not all Millennials are the same. I am constantly feeling challenged in my classes both by the assignments and by my fellow students. Now that we are all attempting to enter the public relations workforce, I am all the more aware of my weaknesses as a public relations student, my portfolio’s weaknesses and my resume’s weaknesses. I know I lack the skills that some of my colleagues have, and I know that I have a lot of learning to do once I enter the public relations profession.

Courtesy of Kogod School of Business on Flickr

In my job search, I will definitely keep everything Defren wrote in mind. All of his tips are excellent. The one that caught me off guard the most was his suggestion to stick with a company for 3-5 years… I have been told by a variety of professionals that it is good to stay at your first job for at least a year, but if you truly dislike it, to leave at that point. Defren’s argument completely makes sense, and I will definitely strive to follow it once I receive my first job.

Both of these men offer great advice. I am not saying it does not apply to me, as it most certainly does. I am saying that believe that the Millennials are not a one-size-fits-all group. Each of us should be evaluated on our individual qualities and not analyzed as a whole. I realize my own imperfections and know the likelihood of landing my dream job in a corner office right after college is slim to none. Make that none.

Courtesy of Aaron Schmidt on Flickr

I know many others feel the same as I and would argue that while many of the qualities Sledzik and Defren point out are realities of our generation, not all apply to one person and not one person has them all. Like I said, we are not a one-size-fits-all group, just as no generation before us has been, but we do still have quite a lot to learn.

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One thought on “Millennials: Not a One-Size-Fits-All Group

  1. Lauren:

    I wanted to post my comment to Bill Sledzik as a comment to your post:

    Bill:

    I’m 52 and I keep a good relationship with many younger people, including several ‘millennials’. In addition, my wife has taught at UofNV for 12 or 13 years and most of her students are 18 to 20 years old, so I hear about her students and their attitudes.

    Remember in Men In Black? Remember when Will Smith is trying to get Tommy Lee Jones’s attention? Allow me:

    Hey, OLD GUY…

    Sorry, but I had to say it. What you’re saying is true to some extent, but it is hand picking stereotype and applying our ‘old guy’ standards to the group in question.

    Yes, there are more bad college students, but that is because there are more college students. When I went to college for my first degree (1976) I was on the leading edge of a revolution. Before then college had a specific purpose, which was to skim the top students who sought a scholarly career and put them in college. At some point people started promoting the idea that everyone should go to college. A flood of scholarships and grants paved the way for a growing number of high school seniors to get a degree…or at least take some college classes before they spent the semester drunk and flunked out.

    Eventually, the mindset changed and college became ‘what you do after you graduate.’ Soon people who had no business going to college were doing it just because…well just because. I don’t know what percentage of high school seniors should go to college but I know we exceed that quota. What is happening now is that these non-student students are sitting in a classroom and of course they don’t do the work or understand why they are their.

    So my feeling is a lot of those bad example students are students who are going through the motions of going to college when they should be following another course in their lives.

    In every age group I see negative issues; however, I have two daughters that fall into that age group and I know many others. Here’s what I see:

    Millennials have figured out how stupid the Chain of Command is and they don’t respect someone just because they have a title. You have to earn their respect and not just be older or be more self-important. I like that!

    Millennials do respect people that respect them and do look up to people that have more valued skills and knowledge. Just because someone did a Doctoral Thesis 20 years ago doesn’t mean they’ve kept up with what is happening in their field now. We have too many State-run colleges that have professors counting the days until retirement and bitter that they have to wait. (I’m not accusing you of this, but give me five days on most State-run college campuses and I can find 10 or more professors that shouldn’t be teaching anymore.)

    Millennials may have been raised in a positive-reinforcing environment, but they are also more optimistic and idealistic about how things could be, which is sorely needed in a Tea-Party-we-hate-everybody-who-doesn’t-think-like-us-and-the-world-is-going-to-end environment.

    I know that young people irritate old people…it’s the way it’s always been, but I’ll go with their ideals of youth over cynicism every time.

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