employers, stop labeling millennials

If you’ve picked up a newspaper or read a business magazine in the last decade, chances are high that you’ve been bombarded with articles about how the millennial generation requires different treatment at work from everyone who has come before them.

In fact, entire consulting businesses have been built on the idea that employers need to learn special techniques in order to effective manage millennial employees, who are alleged have utterly different needs and motivations – and weaknesses – than anyone else. Confounding matters further, Millennial workers are alternately accused of being lazy and driven, highly focused and unfocused, independent and overly dependent, in need of structure and adverse to structure.

But contradictory descriptions aside, most of the stereotypes that people attribute to millennials aren’t about what generation they happen to belong to; rather, they’re about being young and inexperienced in the work world. This generation is far from the first group of 20-somethings to find entry-level work boring, or not to understand the concept of paying their professional dues, or to bridle at dress codes and office norms, or to yearn to have more of a voice in office decision-making.

It’s not that generational differences don’t exist; of course they do. The influence of trends in things like parenting, pop culture, and education do create common value systems that broadly distinguish people growing up in a particular time from people who grew up at different times. And of course it’s interesting to examine how changing social norms have created different values and approaches in particular demographics. But the bigger factor at play in the Millenials’ work style is about age and experience level. While it’s certainly true that millennials are less likely to have a skillful command of office politics within a hierarchical structure than 48-year-olds do, for example, that was true of 22-year-olds 30 years ago as well. The traits and behaviors commonly attributed to millennials are about being inexperienced, not about being born in the years 1982 to 2004.

Moreover, if anything, much of this generation is the precisely the opposite of entitled when it comes to their workplace expectations. They graduated into one of the worst job markets in recent history, often saddled with crippling student loan debt for educations that they were assured would help them pay off that debt quickly, and had to quickly adjust their expectations to a fairly devastating new economic reality. Many studies show that they’ll never catch up, that graduating into that market will permanently depress their lifetime wages. The millennials I talk to are painfully aware of this, not blithely oblivious to such a sobering career reality. Contrary to being entitled, many of them – particularly new grads – are willing to work multiple jobs, long hours, and searching for any employer who will have them. They don’t expect senior level jobs to be handed to them; they’d just like any job, please.

And as if that weren’t enough, consider that the popular conception of “millennials” is largely confined to a particular socioeconomic demographic, leaving out huge swaths of people who don’t fit the narrative. What of the millennial blue collar workers, veterans, and first generation college students? What of the millennial single parents? There are plenty of them, and they’re generally ignored by the pop culture mythology about their generation.

So where does this leave the employers who are struggling to make sense of the enormous quantity of advice on how best to manage millennials?

Managers who buy into generation-based strategies for managing workers are making a significant stumble. Good managers adapt their management according to the needs of the role and the individual employee, and they shouldn’t adopt “millennial management strategies” any more than they should make broad generalizations about managing based on sex, race, or astrological sign.

Millennials don’t need or want to be managed “as millennials,” but rather as relatively inexperienced workers who have similar needs to junior-level workers at any time in the last several decades: clear expectations, a reasonable amount of training, meaningful feedback, and employers who treat them as individuals, not representatives of a generation.

It’s time to retire the millennial label – and maybe in the process, our whole compulsion to label and define generations at all.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 386 comments… read them below }

  1. nyxalinth*

    They’re like anyone else. People of all ages and experience levels can have these qualities. They’re not an alien species, ffs! I get along with people of all ages and I’m pushing 50. I guess it can be argued that labels don’ just arise from nothingness, but at the same time, if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t chop off people’s toes to make it fit :P

    1. Ethyl*

      ” if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t chop off people’s toes to make it fit”

      +1,000 to this article and to this saying, which I am stealing forthwith :)

  2. Traveler*

    “They graduated into one of the worst job markets in recent history, they’re often saddled with crippling student loan debt for educations that they were assured would help them pay off that debt quickly and they had to quickly adjust their expectations to a fairly devastating new economic reality.”

    I loved the entire article but especially that bit.

    1. Mike C.*

      “And as if that weren’t enough, consider that the popular conception of “millennials” is largely confined to a particular socioeconomic demographic, leaving out huge swaths of people who don’t fit the narrative. What of the millennial blue-collar workers, veterans and first generation college students? What of the millennial single parents? There are plenty of them, and they’re generally ignored by the pop culture mythology about their generation.”

      This was also an incredibly good point. Holy crap, this is something that’s been needed to be said for a long, long time.

      1. Stephanie*

        It is an amazing point. If you believed the NYT, et al , you’d think that every Millennial lived in Brooklyn and had an iPhone and selective liberal arts college degree.

        1. Mike C.*

          Holy crap, don’t get me started on the NYT and how they cover millennials. “Girls” is a tv show, not reality and not all men are children who have never grown up. Ugh, the style section is terrible.

        2. Elizabeth*

          If you believe the NYT, we all live in Brooklyn and make a minimum of $250K/year. They’ve got a really limited viewpoint that is working on rendering them irrelevant.

        3. Emma the Strange*

          I’ve always wondered if the whole Millenial stereotype is a result of some editor(s) at the NYT (and similar publications) having some bad experiences with a few interns, and deciding that the whole generation is like that. It would explain SO MUCH.

        4. Sue Donem*

          Heh heh, two out of three of those are true for me! (However, my iPhone is a 3GS, which doesn’t run the latest iOS; also, I don’t live in “trendy” Brooklyn, so I’m not sure that it really “counts”, anyway.) My degree: run-of-the-mill small state school.

      2. Anx*

        What’s funny is that I’ve seen this point brought up tens to hundreds of times by millenial bloggers on social media and independent blogs. But this is the first time I’ve seen it in brought up in such a mainstream publication (either this site or US News). It’s almost as if millenials have actually had something to contribute for years on the topic, but have been relegated to the sidelines and social media blogging. Maybe because enough are not being hired by bigger publications or don’t have enough influence on the teams they are on.

        1. Mike C.*

          Nothing like an “expert” on a group of people that doesn’t actually have any real connections to that group of people!

    2. Mints*

      I loved this section too. We’re the most educated generation and Bachelors are becoming ubiquitous and we have billions of dollars in debt, but okay let’s complain about selfies and the word “totes”

      1. Traveler*

        Yes! I feel like the bachelors is the new high school diploma, and all that debt is going to be the next big bubble to burst and rock our economy. But we’d rather keep ignoring it.

          1. kacey*

            Truly! If you look at the stats on this, it’s almost identical to how the subprime mortgage thing happened. It will burst and it will be bad! I mean thankfully people won’t lose their homes I don’t think, but it will be bad.

              1. MarieGF*

                I laughed so hard at this! I’m an older millennial (31 now) and *may* get my first home by the time I’m 40. If I save literally every penny and manage to find a permanent job.

                LOL! Just joking. We all know there are no permanent jobs any more!

    3. BostonKate*

      Ah, this part. I graduated from college in 2012 and it took be 8 months to find a job. I’m also so in debt because of varying circumstances (~$60K) and am not going to finish paying off my loans until my 40s because the monthly payments they originally wanted are higher than my monthly rent. I make your typical starting salary, but barely get by. We were sold a false bill at goods at an extraordinarily high price.

      I’m lucky that I ended up with a job that is related to my degree, but so many of my friends didn’t. I get so annoyed by these “millenial” (I hate that word btw) articles because they do paint my classmates and I as lazy, which we are the exact opposite. I also watch my coworkers bust their butts at our job and they also fall under that “millenial” label.

      1. AdminAnon*

        That is my story exactly, except I graduated in 2011 instead of 2012. Also, my job is only tangentially related to my degree, but I love it so I’ll keep it!

      2. Susan*

        I graduated in 2012 too, and I was “lucky” to get a paid fellowship just a few days after graduating. It was $10/hr and lasted a year. But the thing is that since it was a temp position, as I got closer to my end date, they started asking me to take Fridays off, so for the last several months I was getting paid $900/month after taxes. I ended up with a bit more debt due to that and unlucky circumstances (my car broke down at a job interview out-of-state).

        When I did this fellowship, I lived in a house with SIX other people and was paying $400/month (including utilities). The rent was cheap, but think of how many ways we were splitting it. One of the guys dropped out of college after the first year and worked at a factory in town. He makes $26/hr. I began wondering if our culture is to blame for our debt a little bit. Because he is now married and they are doing just fine. He can provide a house for him and his wife. They are not in any debt at all.

        I think we grew up in this culture that told you if you don’t go to college, you’re lazy and/or ignorant. But maybe if you’re working class and you don’t have a specific calling (I mean by all means, if you want to be a chemist go study chemistry), but I feel like there are also people who don’t know what to study and just go because that’s what you do. Maybe we shouldn’t tell those people that they’re stupid for getting a white-collar job. You can make $20/hr working at UPS as a mail handler (moving boxes around and stuff at night). I mean you could say it’s not self-fulfilling work, but is punching numbers into Microsoft Excel as an administrative assistant, which is the fate of many English majors, particularly high on the scale of self-fulfilling work? My whole point is that we shouldn’t tell working-class kids that they’re dumb for taking white collar jobs. Maybe your job doesn’t define you. Maybe my former roommate is just happy having financial security for himself and his wife, who are now expecting their first child — which through his willingness to work at a factory, they’re able to afford.

        1. Susan*

          I realize I said white-collar twice, when I meant blue-collar, but you understood my meaning right?

          (If you write a long enough rant, I guess typos are inevitable!)

          I guess the other point of my post was I wonder if I would have been better off not going to college. Because I was making 11/hr before (which is near minimum wage), but at least I didn’t have a lot of debt. A lot of marketing jobs here actually do want to pay you 10/hr for NON-internships… Or they want you to work 20 hours a week at 15/hr.

      3. Steve G*

        OMG I feel bad for all you guys with this debt. Fortunately I went to a public school in NYC so had little debt. I started in 1999 and I remember every nitwit had a high paying job so I totally assumed I’d have no trouble making the big bucks by my mid 20s, and would have totally taken out debt as well if we didn’t happen to have a few good, cheap public colleges here. That was the story we were all getting fed. And the scary part is that entry level salaries are still the same, around 40K-45K.

    4. Cucumber*

      Ditto, but also loved very much that you reflected what our veterans are going through as they look for jobs. Bravo!

  3. Meg*

    I went off into a rant not too long ago about this very subject after being called “lazy” and “entitled” simply because of my generation (I’m 27, btw)

    1. Ali*

      This happened to me in an interview for an internship when I was looking for work with a sports team. The guy interviewing me went off about how he thinks some people with degrees are entitled and above low-level work. WTF? I’m grateful they didn’t call me back…there was no way I’d want to work for a guy who had that attitude to my face (well, to my ears since it was a phone interview). But even so…

      1. monologue*

        Yeah a lot of companies need to hurry up and get over the whole “you’re overqualified” thing. There’s no jobs, everybody’s overqualified and looking to get whatever they can get. Let the person start the job and then take appropriate measures if they’re not doing it properly due to overqualification.

        1. Hooptie*

          To be fair, though, it isn’t just about performance. It is also about spending time training someone who is overqualified when you can pretty well guess that they’ll be gone as soon as they find something that pays more. I know that anyone can leave at any time, but I feel I have a lower level of attrition if I hire people at the right level for the position. I certainly can understand that people gotta eat, and therefore they have to work, but as a hiring manager I’m getting plenty of apps from candidates who aren’t overqualified. With that being said, I love building and developing people as long as I feel they aren’t using me to get a foot in the door.

          1. Anx*

            Why wouldn’t you want them to get a foot in the door at your company? Is it because there is no room for advancement and therefore nowhere else for them to go in your company?

            I ask because so many places seem to advertise “promoting from within” but I’m not sure how many actually follow through.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      As Adam said below, the people most likely to question or challenge the status quo are usually those to whom it is new, just as in popular culture and music each new generation somehow finds ways to shock and appall older generations. Me? I’m smack dab in the middle of Generation X, but I value a short commute, flexible work schedule, work-life balance, and the ability to telework more than I do any particular job or salary, so I am on board with a lot of what Millennials supposedly want. My company supports this on all levels, though, so I haven’t really needed to agitate or advocate. I can’t imagine why we don’t see more older people, who usually have more seniority and job security, pushing for these things, you’d think it would be easier for the older generations.

      1. Meg*

        I’m a software engineer (web developer, web application developer, etc… titles are arbitrary), and giant tech companies that hire new graduates are sort of setting the standard for what to expect in the industry for new software engineers. They encompass many of these “things that millennials want” – work-life balance, telecommute/short commute. Some industries are caught up in a whirlwind of change, but it’s not because of the millennials – the technology that is changing.

        One of my favorite shows is Halt and Catch Fire on AMC, about 1980s era computer industry in Texas. I think it’s 1984. If the current tech industries continue to operate as if it’s 1984 with 30 year old standards of what is normal, what to expect, etc, then it’s the company that’s at fault, not the new swarm of software engineers that come prepared ready to tackle this new emerging technology. Telecommuting as a software engineer is not unreasonable. Wanting to have a work-life balance is not unreasonable. As you pointed out, these aren’t just demands of “millennials,” but the demands of a growing and rapidly changing industry.

        1. Sascha*

          I don’t understand why telecommuting and a good work/life balance are considered to be more important to millennials than other groups. My parents are in their 60s, and have always valued these things. They have quit jobs because they had no life outside the work, or sought out jobs that would allow them to telecommute or set flexible schedules.

          1. The IT Manager*

            To be fair, telecommuting wasn’t really an option for most people even 10 years ago. You needed to be near the printed documents or physically on the LAN to have access to necessary information and a reasonably fast network. There was teleconferenceing, but Video teleconferencing required expensive equipment and dedicated phone lines.

            New communications technology makes it possible for many people now-a-days.

            1. Sascha*

              That is true, I should have edited my words to say they were looking for flexible options before telecommuting was available. But in the past 15 years or so, they have been looking for those types of jobs or asking for those benefits at their current workplaces.

  4. Melly*

    I really appreciate the section about economic realities for this generation – graduating into a crappy economy with lots of student loan debt. For all the flack “we” (I guess by virtue of my birth year I’m the oldest of the millennials) get as slackers and brats in the work place, it’s helpful to point out the context into which we have entered the workforce and how that might impact us as we begin our “adult lives” and our lifetime earnings.

    1. Adam*

      Amen. When I graduated I was many things, but I had no illusions about what kind of job I’d get out the gate. I knew I’d be answering phones, stuffing envelopes, and having plenty of hours of “Oh Lord, this is boring”, but I didn’t complain because I knew that paying your dues was something most everybody had to do, and I was ok with that. But it took me so long to find any kind of job that didn’t involve cleaning a restaurant toilet on a regular basis (which is something I did plenty of during high school) I began to get REALLY irritated by all the “advice” articles saying I needed to tone down my expectations about landing a corner office with my first gig.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        Oh my goodness, yes. I was working part-time retail with a Master’s degree and applying every single day, and every night while I filled the mop bucket to swab the sticky floor I’d pray to have a job where I no longer needed to mop the floor and pick up trash.

        I didn’t (and don’t!) want a corner office, an immediate management position, a job as the “ideas person,” a “fun” job, a job that matched my expertise and schooling perfectly, a job that would allow me to fool around and make $100k a year, crazy perks, or anything like that. I wanted an entry-level office job where I could start a career-type position, make more than minimum wage, have benefits like vacation time and sick pay, and not to be mopping the floors any more. Period. I was so tired of reading advice like “Adjust your expectations!” and “Pay your dues!” because nobody seemed to understand that I would be thrilled to pay my dues! I would love to have a dues-paying job! But we could try and try and try and still not get that dues-paying job, all the while being berated by people who think we think ourselves “too good” for flipping burgers.

        1. Adam*

          It often felt like a diversionary tactic. I think it was easier for older folks to point fingers at the younger generation over work ethic because otherwise they’d have to admit a rather painful fact in that the state of the economy was most definitely not the Millennials’ fault. But certainly if we worked harder and had more realistic expectations than all our careers woes would vanish. *sighs…*

          1. Ezri*

            I’ve noticed that most people from prior generations who view Millennials this way are seeing the situation through their own experience. I heart things like ‘well I got my degree and worked my way up, why can’t they’, or ‘I worked to put myself through college, those lazy kids just don’t have any responsibility’. It’s like they still think college is affordable, degrees are magical keys to the kingdom, and we’re just happier sitting around complaining about it.

            In college I remember professors being very rude to me when I quit being an undergraduate instructor for a minimum-wage job at the library’s IT help desk. They said I was hurting my future and wasting my time on something ‘less valuable’. They didn’t care that the ‘less valuable’ job paid twice as much and would let me pay my rent without working two jobs, and said that clearly I cared about was money.

            I wish the people who say Millennials are lazy could experience it for themselves – we need a magical aging machine to turn them young, send them through college, and try to find a job based on that and whatever experience they can get. Then tell them how much that education costed them and watch their faces. Sorry guys, it’s simply not the same world. I accept that, but don’t call me entitled for saying it shouldn’t be this way.

            1. Chinook*

              “I heart things like ‘well I got my degree and worked my way up, why can’t they’, or ‘I worked to put myself through college, those lazy kids just don’t have any responsibility’. It’s like they still think college is affordable, degrees are magical keys to the kingdom, and we’re just happier sitting around complaining about it.”

              But this is not just a millenial reality. I am a Gen Xer who heard these exact same things in the early 90’s, saw my tuition literally double between my first and fourth year, and could only afford my last year by workinga summer job, 2 part-time jobs while doing a practicum I paid to attend and earning a small scholarship. Most of my classmates were not able to find f/t jobs in our fields and working for one organization for life and ever retiring is a pipe dream. The baby boomers were literally fighting against the wave of mandatory retirements which we had been told by them were coming, thus negating the natural job turnover that happenned for generations (because everyone lives longer now and nobody is retiring or dieing in ways that leave their jobs open. I like that everyone lives longer and can work for as long as they want, but the lack of turnover sucks when you need a job).

              Maybe it is the bitterness leaking through from being lumped into the “older generations” when having few of the privileges, but it does get hard to hear the older generation telling the younger people to stop whining and suck it up and the younger generation pointing out the issues they are having as if no one before them had to deal with it.

              1. Kelly L.*

                Well, I’m an Xer myself and I’ve kind of had the opposite takeaway from you, I think–I feel like because I do know what millennials are going through, I have a lot of empathy for it, and I don’t feel like one of the older generations. Maybe because I don’t have those privileges either. I still feel like “kids these days” is about me, at 36. :D

              2. Ezri*

                It’s not that we’re the first to deal with the issues, not by a long shot. It’s that there’s a real problem with certain people refusing to acknowledge the issues exist (and persist, in some cases).

                I’m willing to be sympathetic to others dealing with (or who have dealt with) employment obstacles, I’m not willing to listen to people smugly call my generation lazy without learning about the situation.

              3. ThursdaysGeek*

                Yeah, when I graduated with my comp sci degree, I finally found a job working in a shoe repair, since there were no programming jobs to be had. It took 4 years before I got a job using my degree. That was in the 1980s.

                That gives me empathy for millennials, because I do understand. No time machine is needed. The economy is bad for everyone, and my income has dropped for the last two jobs, and is now back to where it was about 15 years ago.

              4. Not So NewReader*

                A friend of mine said she got her graduate degree while working and paying in full as she went along. That was decades ago and something that is totally unthinkable now. It’s a different world out there.

                1. ThursdaysGeek*

                  I dunno, my nephew is getting his degree (not graduate) while working, and he’s not in any debt yet. It’s slow, but it’s not totally unthinkable.

                2. Observer*

                  No, not unthinkable – not easy, but the public schools still are much more affordable than the “elite” schools – and some of them are actually very good schools. So, it is doable, if it makes sense, in many cases.

                  It doesn’t always makes sense, though.

              5. MarieGF*

                When millennials talk about ‘older generation’ I don’t think they are including most of generation X. I actually tend to get on well with the younger gen-X crowd in offices as they sympathise and don’t try to pretend there is no problem. It’s the older gen-X and above that try to act like millennials/gen-Y (what’s the exact cut off?) have a peachy existence and if we “only tried a bit harder then we would land that job or afford that home”. I can’t recall ever being preached at by a gen-X and I know many of you guys had a pretty crap time as well. I certainly don’t lump you all in with the ‘older generations’.

            2. Mike C.*

              It’s nothing more than the “Just World” fallacy. It’s easier to accept than the idea that something might actually be wrong.

        2. Anx*

          Also, I wouldn’t even mind doing custodial work to pay my dues, but I’m afraid that no employer would see that as dues paying. And I do have student loan debt so I do hope to eventually make more than minumum wage. But I would definitely settle into custodial work if I could move up into facilities management or find one of the janitorial positions that still have good benefits. I’d probably make more doing that than being a science tech.

        3. Meg*

          I was working full-time retail management while in college full-time for my undergrad, which I ultimately never completed. I feel your pain.

    2. Apple22over7*


      I also hate the fact that so many millennials were sold the dream that a college/university education would mean they would definitely get a great high paying job, and it was the only way to avoid low-paid, low-skilled jobs for the rest of their lives.

      Of course, we then graduate into a crappy economy where we can’t get entry-level jobs as more experienced people are getting them. Even internships are asking for candidates with 2 years experience. And the same people who told us that a degree would be a magical job-attracting tool are moaning at us for being lazy and not working in low-paid low-skilled jobs – when we can’t even get those kinds of jobs because we’re overqualified due to the education we were told would improve our job chances!

      1. LAI*

        If anyone told you that a college degree was a magical job-attracting tool, then that was clearly wrong. However, in many cases, a college degree is a necessary prerequisite to start getting on the path for high-paying jobs. I certainly don’t think I ever would have gotten my first job as a college administrator without a degree – but I also had years of part-time work experience and excellent references. And I also would certainly not have been able to apply for a graduate program in my field years later, which helped me become more competitive to get my current job.

        So the degree is one piece of the package you should be putting together and, combined with practical experience, hard work and smart professional choices, having the degree increases the likelihood that you will be a good candidate for more stable, more high-paying jobs.

        1. Anx*

          Was that part-time experience in retail/food service/manual labor? Or did it have administrative components.

          I think you’re absolutely right, but it’s so hard to even get that part-time work.

        2. Adam*

          Exactly right. Thing is though when I was in high school that wasn’t what was being said. It was pretty much College = Good Job, with not a whole lot of specifics in between. Maybe “get a part-time job/internship” at most. I don’t know what they’re telling kids now but I’m really afraid for the kids that the sales pitch hasn’t been updated much.

          And the realities of the working world are definitely different now, and a degree isn’t an effective catch all like it used to be since it’s so much more commonplace to have one now. I have a relative that graduated from college in the 70s with a major in Journalism and a minor in Poli Sci. Out of school she got a job on the local paper as a reporter for a few years. Then she moved to a new town with her husband and her next job was a manager for bank tellers. I could be wrong but I’d be willing to bet that sort of transition doesn’t happen nearly as often today.

          1. Canadamber*

            That’s… pretty much what they tell us in high school, yes. “Get a degree and you will be fine!” Not a lot of programs have co-op anymore either so you’re not even getting any work experience through that.

            1. SevenSixOne*

              I think that’s what our parents told us because a college degree often WAS a golden ticket to middle-class stability 30-40 years ago… and that a college degree wasn’t a bare minimum requirement for most jobs. A lot of today’s fifty- and sixtysomethings seem willfully oblivious to the fact that the job climate they had when they were 21 is completely different from the one today’s young people have.

              (Google the “Old Economy Steven” meme for loads of examples of this attitude!)

              1. MarieGF*

                That’s all I heard from throughout childhood, school and college. You need to go to university if you want a decent job. Don’t be lazy, don’t waste your education. Get a degree degree degree! No other options were offered by anyone I spoke to.

                I didn’t get a degree originally. I finished college and went out to work full time. Then the recession hit and I was made redundant at 22. I couldn’t apply for most of the jobs going as the applications asked for ‘degree subject/grade/university’ on the first page and wouldn’t let you continue without filling it in. I was turned down for every single entry level job, including the same job I had been doing for the last two years, even voluntary jobs that would actually cost me money to get to every day. I was willing to travel hours each day, work any amount of time to any type of contract, doing any job going. But there was nothing. McDonalds wouldn’t even interview me.

                I went and did a part time degree whilst living and working abroad by myself (which was a bad decision and got me in both financial and physical trouble) just so I could get past the application for these basic jobs. It was hell. I still have the spreadsheet I made to entertain myself with the 1000+ applications on (literally). Once I’d graduated I was finally able to get a few interviews and in 2013 I managed to get back into the job market at a much reduced salary (despite the job requiring a degree).

                People seem to ignore the fact that Gen Y/millennials did not CHOOSE to go to university and get into ridiculous amounts of debt. We HAD to go if we wanted any hope at getting a job. At 31 I am now back on the salary I started at when I left college at 19. But now I have student debt to pay off and permanent address. I never wanted to go to university. I knew it was a complete waste of time, as I’ve always been able to teach myself anything I needed to know or learn on the job far more quickly. But it was a requirement to work back then. I don’t know how things fare now for the new graduates entering the job market. I hope things have picked up a bit and graduate schemes have returned. But I suspect the debt will only spiral further.

        3. Ezri*

          I can tell you with some certainty that no one articulated it like that for me in high school. It makes perfect sense when said like that, and most of us figured it out eventually, but most 17 year olds are thinking ‘go to college’, not ‘go to college and get appropriate part time work experience’. Not that that experience is easy to get, if you even know what you’re looking for.

          I was fortunate enough to score a webmaster position for a year before graduating, and I can say with some certainty that it made more of a difference than my 4-year degree when it came to getting a job. But that’s one position for one student per year… there are a lot of undergraduates struggling to get meaningful work experience that also pays the bills. Before that job I left a job with great experience for a minimum-wage IT help desk, because I couldn’t make rent with the former.

          So… yeah, I agree with your comment. But it’s not always that cut and dried, as evidenced by what I’ve read on this blog.

        4. Tomato Frog*

          Yes. And this is what my parents (baby boomers) told me — that a BA is what a high school degree used to be, a bare minimum for getting many jobs. I really wonder who’s telling kids that a BA will help guarantee a job. That hasn’t been true since before I wad born, if it ever was.

          1. Fabulously Anonymous*

            I was born in the early 1970s and that’s what my parents told me. But I think it may be less an age issue than socioeconomic – my parents were working class.

          2. Bunny*

            A lot of those of us who got caught up are first-generation university students.

            I was the first person in my family to get a chance to go to university – previous generations simply hadn’t been able to afford it, and mostly were working multiple jobs from their mid-teens specifically to help support the family. University was supposed to be my Big Chance. The opportunity for me to dream for bigger and better things than my parents and grandparents had.

            That said, I still didn’t “just” go to university. For one thing, I couldn’t have afforded to live without some work and for another, the idea of not having at least one job on the side was completely alien in my family. You needed a job. You always needed a job. And I always had one.

            Still ended up worse off than my parents and grandparents compared to where they were financially at my age.

            The problem is, schools and employment advisors and similar 10-15 years ago (which is when the oldest of the Millennials were starting university) really did treat a degree as a magical golden ticket to success. They still are, based on what my cousins have told me. And when you’re a teenager from a working class family, you’re not going to know any better.

        5. the_scientist*

          I would say that categorically what I heard in high school was Degree=job, with no nuance. Like fposte says below, it’s clear to me now that a degree is necessary but not sufficient to obtain a job but that was never really made clear to us in high school. Instead, it was “find something you enjoy and are good at –> go to university –> find job in desired field”. Which, uh, lies.

          The other thing is that it’s easy to say “you must have practical experience” but the reality is a bit trickier. Sure, I think high school students can and should have part-time jobs. I always did. But admission requirements can be so insane now that students feel the need to spend their summers taking AP classes, volunteering, going on service trips, and taking SAT prep classes that the number of hours they can commit to work are few. And that’s if they can find a job, with legions of desperate, unemployed grads looking for anything to help offset their loan payments. Once you get into school, maybe your workload is so intense that it doesn’t facilitate a part-time job. Maybe in the region where you live or attend school, part time work (even retail/food service) is hard to come by in the summers due to a glut of unemployed people needing work.

          Further, as people mentioned below- many ‘joe jobs’ are reluctant to hire people with degrees for fear that they’ll “leave as soon as something better comes along” which makes it hard to even get your foot in the door to get any sort of real-world experience. AND, as someone below made the excellent point- employers increasingly require very specific experience and qualifications for even entry level positions, so your admin assistant work during undergrad may not count for anything when applying to postgrad jobs in your field, and you can easily find yourself pigeonholed or unable to transition.

          To be clear, I’m not saying people SHOULDN’T get work experience while still in school- they absolutely should! But it’s not a quick fix to the issue of expensive degrees + inability to get jobs.

          1. Mike C.*

            These are really great points. The amount of requirements we put on high school students is nuts these days.

            1. the_scientist*

              The real-world experience thing is a bit of a sore spot for me, because I actually did a co-op program in undergrad, meaning I got good, in-my-field, PAID experience as an undergrad, and co-op has been 0% helpful to me in my postgrad job search. The reason? My co-op program was in mol bio- very wet lab based. What does one do with an undergraduate degree in mol bio (or a master’s for that matter)? They become a lab tech or lab manager, which is not exactly stable or well-paid, unless you work for big pharma. So I went to grad school to become an epidemiologist, where there ARE jobs (allegedly, I can’t find them) and my co- op experience is virtually meaningless as far as potential employers are concerned.

              1. Xay*

                There are epidemiologist jobs – if you are an MD, DVM, PhD in epidemiology. But at some point in the last few years, agencies lost interest in hiring and training bachelors and masters level epidemiologists.

              2. Mike C.*

                It doesn’t help that funding in the biosciences absolutely sucks. Sure, everyone is freaking out Ebola and Alzheimer’s, but paying for scientists to do something about it?


                I had to get out of the industry all together just because of this.

                1. monologue*

                  Yeah the funding situation is ridiculous. I’m in grad school rn and I’m making less than I would if I quit and went back to my other career which is cooking in restaurants. I’ll make more sooner by going back to cooking and trying to make management than I will staying in the academic track after I graduate. I’ll also have way less stress and no expectation to do any work outside of the hours I’m at the restaurant.

                  If we want medicine to keep moving forward, we need to treat the people who do bench work better, like actual people with actual jobs that require education. Salaries should really be on par with people in office jobs, even for grad students.

                2. A Cita*

                  Also, the sequester–which people aren’t talking much about anymore but is still certainly going on–has pretty much obliterated grant funding for science research. I work in internal medicine; all of our grants (that we already won) have been slashed and new grants are really hard to find and get (grants are no longer being funded, there is intense competition to get the few grants that are left). This is happening to everyone, so now foundations are finding themselves overwhelmed with applications from research teams who traditionally were funded by large grant organizations (NIH, NSF, etc) while they themselves no longer have funding. So yeah, epidemiology jobs are hard to come by, even with a PhD or MD. This is changing the whole landscape for academic research institutions and government agencies (as well as small foundations and nonprofits).

              3. Shell*

                Co-signed, only I was chemistry instead of mol bio. I even did research in undergrad and got my name on a published (small) paper. Still only got a lab tech job upon graduation (which was high stress and not great pay). Once I injured myself on the job, I divorced benchwork…so all that co-op experience and whatnot was useless. (Although honestly, even before I divorced benchwork all that experience was more of a “oh, that’s nice” and not the promised golden path to stable employment and lots of money that I was promised.)

        6. Stephanie*

          I also think you can’t ignore expectations and societal pressure. I grew up in a middle-class suburb and graduated high school in the early 00s and our (public) high school touted how many students went to a four-year college. If you were reasonably intelligent and said you weren’t going to college, everyone would have looked at you like you were crazy and about to join the circus. If you couldn’t get into a super selective school, you applied to a state school. If you couldn’t get into a flagship state school, you applied to an auxiliary campus or Directional State U. You just were supposed to go somewhere, regardless of how college-ready you were or if it even made sense financially. If you did forgo college, the “acceptable” alternative was a career-oriented two-year program, like a nursing program at the community college. The counselors definitely pushed “college=good job” with no nuance or co-op exposure.

          1. Diet Coke Addict*


            College attendance was huge at my high school. Huge. Something like 99% of the students went to a four-year school, and the remaining 1% went to a community college or into the military. Those were the only options. Absolutely everyone would have looked at you like you had lost your mind because there was just absolutely zero exposure to any post-high-school tracks other than “college.” None.

            1. The IT Manager*

              Same here in the early 90s. But it was a private, catholic school that only had college prep courses. My brother did one semester of college away – failed out. Started another semester at the local equivalent of community college and didn’t finish that either. We were not offered any other options.

              OTOH I feel like that’s what the parents wanted. This wasn’t a public school. There were two reasons parents sent the kids to this school – Catholic education and best college prep education in town. A lot of my classmate’s parents were doctors, lawyers, and professors at the local college so they did fully expect their kids to attend college even if that’s not where their kids’ interest lay.

            2. The IT Manager*

              I remember reading a book by a upper middle-class dad whose son choose to enlist in the Marines. Other parents from his New England private, prep school were offering the Dad condolances on his son’s choice not to go to college. Some places are like that.

            3. Phyllis*

              The thing is, college is not just the academic side. My husband is an instructor at our local community college at the Work Force center. They teach trade (industrial electricians, welders, construction, ect.) When people finish this program ; either one or two year certifications, they are qualified for some really well-paying jobs, but even the college is hesitant to play it up or recommend it to their incoming students because the perception is that everyone should have liberal arts type courses or they are not really contributing anything to society. They have a terrible time getting funding/respect from TPTB who allocate funds.

              Don’t get me wrong; I am in no way disparaging someone who gets a degree in English Lit, Philosophy, or Theater/Drama if that’s what their passion is, but Skilled Trades has a real place in our society. I would think if you have a young person who was a (barely) C student who is not interested in academics but is on fire for auto repair or construction, why not help them get the training/certification they need so they can do something meaningful that engages them?

              I realize that is not really the topic here, but it plays into it, because a lot of people get degrees that they don’t really want because they were told they needed it to make their way in life, when if they could have gotten certified as a plumber or CNA or LPN they would be happier and making a decent salary. And probably no student debt!!

              1. Phyllis*

                Also, forgot to say, DH spent 30 years as an industrial electrician, and the salary he’s making as an instructor is about one-third what he made as an electrician, but he loves teaching his skills to young people who want to learn.

                Money is not the most important thing in life, but it’s great when you can work at a job you enjoy and get good compensation for it. Not everyone has the ability or desire to be a doctor, lawyer or CEO.

          2. CherryScary*

            Seconding all this.

            Even if you were a top performer (this was at my school) people looked at you weird if you DIDN’T go to one of those selective schools. I got into one, but simply couldn’t afford it. It was a smarter decision for me to go to the state school. I had to field a lot of questions about “well if you got into XY University, why are you going to State U? You’re missing out!”

            I didn’t really feel like graduating with 100k in debt?

      2. Holly*

        I’ve seen job postings for internships asking for 3-4 years of experience and entry-level positions asking for 5+. Sure beats the point of either of those types of jobs…

      3. fposte*

        Yeah, I’d say a degree is necessary but not sufficient. Unfortunately, it’s a lot of money for something that isn’t sufficient.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Millennials were not the only ones sold the pipe dream. Around here a bachelors gets you 30K a year. IF you are lucky that is, most of the time it gets you minimum wage jobs.

    3. Mallorie, the recruiter*

      Agreed… I didn’t go to college after graduating HS in 2005 and it was “shock and horror”. My friends thought I was throwing my life away to enter the workforce instead… fast forward nearly 10 years and I’m in a far better place than most of them, but it has been a happy accident. I had no idea at the time that NOT getting a bunch of student debt and working my way up the ladder would pay off — things just changed that rapidly.

      1. Anx*

        This comment is spot on. Those of my classmates (’04) who didn’t go to college are doing better than many of us that did. Some of them decided not to go. Many of them simply didn’t have the work ethic during school.

        Experience always trumps education, but those that went to college weren’t necessarily less interested in working. In fact, many of them were more motivated and at the time going to school was the more ambitious and seemingly practical route.

  5. Adam*

    While the verbage may change I feel confident everything said about the millenials is the same as was said about the previous generation when they were young and fresh faced. People are still people regardless of what age they grew up in. The main difference between millenials and previous generations is that millenials barely remember what a VCR was.

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I’m sure cave men were complaining about the younger generation not bringing home game, saying that the young’uns just needed to pound the pavement to kill that sabre-toothed tiger.

      1. the_scientist*

        “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”
        – Socrates

        (but actually, though). I like to whip this out whenever someone criticizes “the youth” or “you kids today”.

        1. hildi*

          I did something like this in a class once. I spent a whole day online looking up archives of Time Magazine and such from the 1970s. I wanted to see what the Greatest Generation was saying about the Baby Boomers just entering the workforce. I found a whole page of quotes along these lines. I wrote the quotes down and had participants read them. When they were done, I said, “Sounds a lot like the Millennials doesn’t it?” They all nodded because it really honestly sounded EXACTLY like what is being said now. I had them flip it over and BOOM! All of the dates were attached to the quotes. I love stuff like that because it was really a stark example of how much things don’t change when it comes to young people. Boomers were being accused of nearly the same things that Millennials are now.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Thank you! Yes, a thousand times yes. Since it is an established pattern that goes down through the generations, I tend to think of it as a pattern of verbal abuse.

            I am ashamed and embarrassed that baby boomers did not learn not to speak this way. For all the flack we got, you would think we would have learned.

      2. Mike C.*

        Socrates certainly was!

        “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

    2. hermit crab*

      There are written complaints about lazy young people going all the way back to Plato (and probably farther), all saying pretty much the same things.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        Yep, and that’s why this whole argument bugs me. Millennials aren’t being singled out. It happened to me (Gen X) and happened to my parents (Boomers). It’ll happen to the next generation too.

        We should be spending our time arguing about how worthless it is to generalize an entire group of people, be it age, race, religion, geographic location, or if they like their pizza thin or deep dish. Work or otherwise, our need to stereotype people into convienent little labels is obnoxious.

      2. Lore*

        Yup. We Gen Xers were “slackers” instead of “entitled,” but pretty much the same thing. (I guess we didn’t want to work at all, rather than wanted the corner office?)

        1. Kelly L.*

          And I think we were supposed to have gotten all the participation trophies, too. I don’t remember that happening all that often, and when it did, we all knew they were pretty meaningless. It’s not like kids are dumb.

          1. Ezri*

            I got a trophy every single season of basketball when I was little, and I was still well aware that I sucked. Good thing I got that trophy to throw in the closet and never look at again, or my self-esteem might never have recovered. XD

            1. Meg*

              I got a participation ribbon for a science as an acknowledgement and proof that I participated. Didn’t win anything.

          2. kdizzle*

            I’ve always loved this…like we, as six-year-olds, were the ones buying the trophies and self-congratulating.

            The participation trophies were usually the first ones to get dismantled and run over by my Big Wheel.

            1. Kai*

              Ugh, right? If you want us to stop feeling proud of ourselves for getting a participation trophy, stop handing them out! (And like an earlier poster said…yeah, we knew we weren’t actually winning anything.)

          3. Livin' in a Box*

            I got a participation ribbon once for track and field and it was the most embarrassing moment of my elementary school career. Everyone knew it was the ribbon for fat kids that sucked at running and jumping. I threw it out when I got home.

            1. Kelly L.*

              I used to get awards in music for “singing my heart out,” which meant “You’re really trying, which is nice, but you can’t carry a tune in a bucket.” :D

              1. Bunny*

                Heh, I’m always grateful that my music teacher was fun about stuff like that. He used to always put me right at the front with the really good singers and encourage me to really go for it. When some of the other singers asked him – in front of me – why he kept doing that since I was so bad at singing his response was

                “Yeah she sucks, but she’s really loud and I’m hoping it’ll encourage the rest of you to stop mumbling and try to drown her out.”

            2. born in the 60s*

              I think recognizing participation (for things that are voluntary) is a good thing. But hard work and excellence should each get extra recognition.

          4. Adam*

            Yep. I’ve heard that in some areas parents have stopped keeping score of kids’ soccer games under much the same premise. When they asked the kids it turns out the little tykes kept score themselves anyways!

            1. Stephanie*

              But your typical AYSO soccer game looks like a real-life demonstration of entropy. I’ve seen some where the only way I can tell there are two opposing teams are the uniforms.

              1. Adam*

                I played soccer for one year when I was about 5-6. It was madness. But we definitely still wanted to win even though whoever did was assuredly by shear dumb luck!

            2. Kelly L.*

              My nephew plays in one of those. They may not know the exact score at the end of the game, but everybody can pretty much tell when one of the teams is whooping up on the other.

            3. NoPantsFridays*

              Wow. I think even very young children know the difference between a friendly competition and a non-competition.

          5. Stephanie*

            That or the “most improved” trophy. I got a couple of those from middle-school basketball and realized that that was code for “Hey, you kind of sucked.” The EC I was actually good at was orchestra and that was pretty cutthroat once you started getting to the higher levels. With things like chair tests or auditions, it was pretty clear who was good and who wasn’t.

          6. alma*

            I got a participation trophy for Little League. I actually did appreciate it, but it’s not like I clutched it to my chest and thought that I was Ken Griffey Jr. Kids know the deal with participation trophies, and if they don’t, the issue goes beyond the trophy.

          7. Chinook*

            Nope – participation trophies and “everyone wins” came in with my little sister and DH (both born in the 80’s). I was born in the 70’s and we even earned gold, silver or bronze when it came to fitness tests issued by the government. Life was still cutthroat when it came to participation but atleast we learned early on that not everyone can win everything.

          8. Mike C.*

            Seriously, I love all the folks that complain about them, yet say nothing of the adult marathoners that have their own.

            1. Tinker*


              Also, the funny thing about that is that for all the howling about “you’ve got to win, win, win, beat the other guy, win, life isn’t about participation…” as far as I can tell life IS about participation most of the time. As a Former Gifted Kid, I’ve found that one of my bigger faults that is apt to cause me undue suffering is getting discouraged when I do things that are useful to do but which I’m not particularly brilliant at — particularly for things like music where it’s very much in my face that there are people who are orders of magnitude above me in ability.

              Fighting against this tendency, and realizing that what I do isn’t meaningless because a lot of someone elses do it a whole lot better, is something that I’ve come to realize is one of the most important things that I need to work on right now.

              Recognizing exceptional accomplishments is important also, but let’s not do it in a way that drags everyone else down.

              1. Cat*

                Yes, I am with you on this. Actually: boring story time. When I was a kid, I was on a soccer team that I didn’t really enjoy and quit after a couple of years – probably at the end of first grade. The next year, one of the other girls brought in a trophy that everyone on the team had gotten for finishing three years (or whatever it had been at that point). Anyway, 7-year-old me was super jealous of the trophy despite it being a “participation” trophy, but it was pretty clear to me that hey, sometimes you get stuff for actually showing up. So maybe I was a stupid kid who cared about a stupid thing, but also not the worst of lessons to learn.

              2. Bunny*

                Oh gods, yes. As a fellow former Gifted Kid, society as a whole really needs to retire that term and find a better way to deal with the kids who are a little more advanced in SOME things than others. (Based on my experiences when they’d find ways to shove multiple Gifted Kids into a room together, we were mostly gifted academically but severely lacking in social, verbal or emotional development!).

          9. Helka*

            I’ve always felt that the need to give “participation trophies” and whatnot always reflected a lot more on demand coming from the parents rather than the kids themselves. “My precious little Bobby deserves some sort of recognition (that I can then use vicariously to feel more secure in my parenting, because I can tell myself I don’t have a loser for a child.)”

      3. A. D. Kay*

        I was going to make exactly the same comment. I remember a cover article in The Atlantic in 1991 or 1992 about Gen Xers’ “conflicts” with Baby Boomers. The media used the same rhetoric about us Gen Xers as it does now about Millenials. It’s absurd.

    3. Holly*

      Hey now, the VCR was my buddy as a kid. I recorded every show I could just to, plus I rocked the hell out of my Disney VHS collection. :p

      1. Adam*

        I think I still have one in my closet somewhere along with a bunch of recorded tapes. Thing is pretty much everything on them I could find on Youtube now if I want. Ain’t technology grand!

        1. Kelly L.*

          I remember buying CDs and cassettes in large part because I wanted to know the lyrics to songs and couldn’t always make them out. I could record off the radio, sure, but I wanted those liner notes! Now I can google the lyrics to anything as fast as I can blink.

          1. Adam*

            Shazaam is my favorite app in the world. Before that it would TORTURE me for weeks if I would hear a popular song on the radio but the DJs would never tell me who it was!

      2. Ezri*

        I can’t wait until I have kids and grandkids, so I can start comparing my childhood to theirs. “In my day there was no Cloud! And we couldn’t use the internet and the phone at the same time! And our appliances had CORDS.”

        1. JMegan*

          And all you could do with your mobile phone was call another person and talk to them! They didn’t have cameras, or anything!

          1. Meg*

            And to text someone, you had to press the number multiple times to get the appropriate letter! None of this QWERTY keyboard crap!

        2. Chinook*

          Only your appliances had cords? Pshaw. When I grew up, our remote control for the VCR had a cord and the VCR only went up to channel 13 (and we still that that was the most amazing thing ever). Our dogs pretty quickly leanred how to belly crawl under them or run the risk of heavy electronics squashing them.

          1. Bunny*

            Pffft you fancy Americans and your 13 channels. Over on this side of the pond, I remember getting really excited in the 90s when we got a FIFTH CHANNEL. And it was full of raunchy, gaudy exciting stuff that the Beeb would never have shown.

      3. Stephanie*

        2004 HS graduate here. Our HS band historian put the annual review of pictures and the marching band show (this was in Texas, where the annual marching show was a huge production) on VHS. I still have it, but no way to view it. My friend was helping me pack, found the tape and was like “I want to go find a VCR just to view this. I feel like the camp factor would be incredible.”

    4. Nerd Girl*

      There are more differences than the VCR. Technology and the access to it has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. As a teen it was unusual to know someone with a home computer. Doogie Howser was the only teen I knew of who had a computer at home and I assumed that was because he was a doctor. :) I remember when we bought a home computer and got internet. We had to pay by the minute and my mother was terrified that “people would find us!” (What they would do with us if they found us is still baffling, but she freaked about it ALL the time!) Television was an old tube set with rabbit ears and in my neighborhood if you had cable your family was pretty well-to-do. I remember getting basic cable and it didn’t even include the Disney Channel.
      I hated being called a Gen X-er so I understand the frustration with labels. As to lack of work ethic…that’s a person thing, not a generation thing. I have worked with all ages and have encountered that in every generation currently working. I find that when I think of the term Millennial I picture a bunch of hipsters from a sit-com sitting around discussing how ironic they are with their big paychecks and loft apartments while the rest of their generation struggles to just move out of their parent’s house or find a place without a roommate who steals their snacks!

    5. Steve G*

      VCR may be a bad example. Maybe someone 20 or younger doesn’t remember them, but most millenials are 20 plus

    6. QK*

      That’s not quite accurate. I was born in 1984 and my childhood home still had a VCR when I went off to college. We ‘elder’ millennials don’t really fit into a lot of the (already pretty baseless) claims about millennials.

    7. aebhel*

      Really? I’m at the older end of the Millennial generation, sure, but they were still releasing movies on VHS when I graduated high school.

  6. Pierre*

    From my experience, the only managers I heard complaining about Millennials as hard to manage are the managers that have difficulties at managing people in general… :(

    1. kdizzle*

      Preach. I once had a co-worker who was bashing millennials to me (Awkward. I’m technically a millennial). “They’re not even teaching these kids to write in cursive anymore; they’ve diluted educational standards so much that I can’t see myself jumping to hire one of them.”

      Dude…it’s accounting, not calligraphy. Writing in perfect cursive is rarely a necessary skill to balance the books. Shockingly, even with the people he did hire…he couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        Which is weird, because I’m 26 and definitely a millennial, and definitely learned cursive in school. I think kids who are in elementary school RIGHT NOW are not learning cursive (or if they are it’s not as emphasized as it was) but like….those kids are going to be entering the workforce in ten or fifteen years at a minimum!

          1. Stephanie*

            Ditto (I’m 28). Learned cursive and actually used it to take notes throughout college. Don’t use it as much but my handwriting now is a print/cursive hybrid.

          2. Adam*

            I learned cursive in third grade too, and we were required to write in it for all written assignments for the whole year. Then I got to fourth grade and my teachers said “Adam, just stop. Write in print please. I can’t read any of this chicken scratch.” I haven’t gone back to cursive since.

            1. Shell*

              I wrote in cursive for my first co-op job placement as an experiment and no one could read my writing. These were coworkers who were, at minimum, my age, and more often some 5-15 years older.

              I switched back to my italicized print and never wrote cursive again after that.

          3. Kelly L.*

            Mine too. It’s turned into this unholy hybrid that is pretty much made up of whichever is faster for each letter.

            And the thing about cursive is, even if they do totally stop teaching it, it’ll be a pain in the ass for a few decades, and then no one will really care. People aren’t still bewailing the loss of the Elizabethan secretary hand. What we don’t always realize is that types of handwriting have gone in and out of style about as long as there’s been handwriting, and the world hasn’t ended yet.

        1. Judy*

          Cursive is being taught in my kids schools. But it certainly isn’t emphasized like it was. They have to do assignments and spelling tests in cursive (curse you “br”, the bane of my son’s existance). But even in the ’70s it wasn’t emphasized the way it was in my parent’s generation. They do not get a separate letter grade on their report card for it, but any writing assignment they are required to do in cursive is given 3 separate grades, handwriting, grammar and the assignment.

        2. Mints*

          I’m chiming into the poll: 23 and I definitely leaned cursive. I’ve also worked with school age children recently, and they do learn cursive. I guess it’s just not as emphasized as it used to be (which I don’t really think is a bad thing)

          1. Nerd Girl*

            My kids are in 4th and 3rd grade and are currently learning cursive. I know that a lot of area schools have elected not to teach it, but there’s a bit of concern by historians that not teaching cursive means that there may be a generation of people that cannot read historical documents written in it. My reaction to that is Pshaw! People don’t write in Hieroglyphics anymore and yet there are those who have learned it, studied it, and are now able to translate it. I think that cursive is important to teach, especially for those children who tend to rush while writing print. My son has had to learn to slow down in order to create the letters which has had him taking a bit more time with his printing too. His penmanship is so much better (thank goodness!)

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              ” . . . there’s a bit of concern by historians that not teaching cursive means that there may be a generation of people that cannot read historical documents written in it.”

              Even if one can read and write modern cursive, the spidery, scrawling, historical-document cursive is a translation exercise unto itself.

        3. ThursdaysGeek*

          I’m a boomer, and of course we learned cursive, but I was never very good at it, and now can’t remember most of it. Even my signature doesn’t have cursive capitals, because I simply can’t do all those curly lines without losing control. My spouse’s signature doesn’t have any cursive in it at all.

          Which is to say, other than reading historical documents and letters from your grandma, what is the point?

        4. born in the 60s*

          I was in elementary school in the 1970s and they taught cursive. I pretty much refused to learn it – got in huge fights with the teachers. It seems pointless to me since I could write faster and clearer in print. Since I was so frickin’ brilliant in other ways (seriously) I got by.

          I know cursive in the sense that I could slowly write each letter. But being able to write it in a practical way – no.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            When I was in elementary school learning cursive, the teachers would give sloppy writers “licks” with a ruler on the palm of the hand for sloppy writing. We’d have to go to the teacher’s desk, one at a time, and show her our handwriting work. If it wasn’t good, she’d say, “Give me your hand”, and she’d swat our upturned palms a couple of sharp licks with the ruler.

        5. Bunny*

          I learned it in juniors (ages 7-11) and then when I started seniors (12-16) we were all told we were forbidden from writing in cursive… because none of the teachers could read our writing!

      2. doreen*

        I had almost the reverse problem. One day, when I was the last one to leave the office I got a phone call from another agency we worked closely with. They couldn’t read a fax that one of my staff sent over, so they were calling to clarify. When I spoke to the employee the next day she said ” yes, they always say they can’t read my handwriting” . As my head began to explode, I asked her why in the world she was writing in cursive if she knew they couldn’t read it and her response was ” I don’t print”. She’s no Millennial- maybe her children are. Which is a long way around of saying that even if Millennials have different issues, it doesn’t mean they have more issues.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          By the time I came into this world my grandmother had forgotten how to print. She was born in the late 1800s. So even if you do know, it does not mean you will remember.

    2. Sascha*

      Agreed. As Alison said, managers should be developing their management strategies around the individual and that is right for the role. But that is usually too much work/too difficult for bad managers. :)

  7. Ali*

    Thank you for writing this! I’m 29 and get so tired of the general attitude that people my age are so entitled, not willing to do lower-level work and so forth. I’m balancing a full-time job and an internship at the moment (the internship is in an area where I don’t have professional experience, and it’s paid, albeit not much), and despite all the great skills I’m told I have and that hiring managers have said things like, “You would be an asset to our company,” or “You were great in the interview,”… but we found someone with more experience.” I can’t find a new job to save my life. Then when I get frustrated, people try to say things like “You’re just not qualified,” “Stop thinking you’re so special,” and “You need more experience/have to be patient/work harder.” Now that I have the second job on top of my full-time gig, I’m honestly not sure how much harder I can work. And I get pretty strong reviews at both positions, some of which are comments in writing over e-mails or in review reports.

    Not to mention I majored in communications, so some people scoff at that and say “Just learn a trade” or “Oh you should’ve majored in STEM.” I’d love to change careers and do something more employable, but I was failing or barely passing tests even in Biology 101 or Chem 101.

    1. CheeryO*

      As a recent STEM graduate with lots of recent-STEM-graduate friends, that’s another generalization I would love to see die out. Yeah, a degree in engineering makes you more employable than a degree in the humanities, but a) engineering is not for everyone and b) it certainly does not guarantee you a job, especially if you live/attended college in an area that’s not a hotbed for tech. I graduated in 2012 and have a few friends who are still looking, and it’s not for lack of trying.

    2. Shell*

      Yeah, no. STEM isn’t the golden path it was promised to be. Maybe if you have a master’s in engineering or something, but a bachelor’s is a toss-up at best.

    3. monologue*

      That’s only really true for eng or comp sci. In other sciences you’ll probably get a job, but not necessarily a better one than what you have now unless you do grad school and even then not necessarily.

      1. Stephanie*

        Eh, even in engineering, there’s disparity about job prospects depending on what you studied and what your company/industry is engineering. Some industries (energy and aerospace come to mind) can be pretty boom and bust.

    4. QK*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t sweat it about the STEM fields. I’m in STEM (because I genuinely love it), and it’s taken me ~7 years in the workforce to finally find a job that I can see myself in for a while (I love the work and it pays well). Like another commenter said, STEM’s hardly the golden path it used to be. Like any other field, you need to know how to market yourself effectively.

  8. Ash (the other one)*

    Thank you.

    I would also add to this that along with not stereotyping by generation, employers need to also not stereotype by age. This is inherent in Alison’s summation of tailoring management to individual employees, but I think it needs to be said that promotions, titles, salaries, should be tied to who demonstrates they can do high quality, high level work rather than arbitrary “years of experience” requirements that end up targeting younger employees. I am not talking about years of experience in job ads (which is, often, just a proxy and not a requirement) I mean actual criteria, explicit or not, in certain organizations for reaching certain levels. Case in point, my previous employer who told me they would never give me a certain title until I was 30 (yes, THIRTY) years in. What?

    I am now in a senior role in my new organization and while I came in feeling like I didn’t deserve the title (most my age are in the step below mine), I am thriving, doing great work, and proving even myself wrong.

  9. Stephanie*

    I (a Millennial) was having a similar discussion with my mom (a Baby Boomer). She was saying how she read articles about how my age group is buying fewer cars, living with roommates until a much later age, etc. I was like “I think that is because we have no money. I am unsure if this is truly some dramatic social change.”

    1. the_scientist*

      I also laugh cruelly (I’m aware this makes me a bad person but I have no sympathy at this point) at the baby boomers who are planning to sell their homes to finance their retirements. Sorry guys, but who is going to be buying those homes? It won’t be the millennials, because we have no money and buttloads of student loans to pay off. Not to mention that millennials are delaying or avoiding child-rearing altogether because of unstable finances, so we won’t NEED suburban mcmansions.

      Maybe I’m just bitter because I live in Toronto, where the AVERAGE (yes, average) price for a single-family detached home is $965,000. So I’ll never own a house.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        Moving way off topic, but Toronto is one of those locations that shocks me is still drawing a ton of young people. Obviously, it is hip and awesome (one of my favorite cities in the world). But with the economic realities you just described, I wonder when are we going to start seeing younger people fleeing city centers to more affordable suburbs.

        Sorry for derailing the convo, I just am very fascinated by this topic.

        1. the_scientist*

          Oh, I could talk for days about this!

          I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto (so, the GTA), and the average price of homes in my hometown is now over $800,000. To the west, in Mississauga and Oakville, it’s about the same. Scarborough is more affordable, but has it’s….less desirable…pockets (Note: I was born there, so not hating on Scarborough) and Hamilton is also more affordable but with the same reputation. I lived in Hamilton for undergrad and I actually love the city, and it’s becoming a haven for artist-types that simply can’t afford to live in Toronto, but some people don’t like it. SO, all that to say that the suburbs AREN’T actually much more affordable in the GTA, at all.

          There are two reasons, I think, why young people such as myself are flocking to Toronto despite the economic realities of living in the city:

          1). For most fields, this is IT, job-wise. The jobs are all downtown, not in the suburbs. Certainly for my field, it’s downtown Toronto or Ottawa, with few options in between.

          2). Transportation and commuting here is an unparalleled disaster. You can’t move to the more affordable suburbs like Oshawa, Whitby or Uxbridge unless you’re willing to spend at least three hours a day commuting, and three hours is a generously low estimate. There are about the same # of “supercommuters” in Toronto/the GTA as there are in LA, now, apparently. So those affordable suburbs are out of the question for individuals or couples who both work in the downtown core, if you value work-life balance and a short commute (which many millennials do!).

          My boyfriend and I are talking about buying/settling down and I really wonder about the long-term viability of staying in Toronto. His job is a bit more portable than mine but I can’t even find a new job in the same city, let alone while trying to relocate to a cheaper area (plus our families are here), so the reality is we’re probably trapped here for a while.

          Anyway, threadjack over.

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            I live two-odd hours out of Toronto and I know a guy who lives in Prince Edward County and commutes to downtown Toronto. Every day. It’s a minimum of two hours on a good day. I have no idea how he did it last winter–telecommuting, I think.

            Similarly, I know of a guy who lives in Peterborough and commutes to Toronto every day. It is truly unbelievable.

            1. Livin' in a Box*

              This is really common. I live in Muskoka and know multiple people who commute to downtown Toronto every day. It’s insane.

            2. the_scientist*

              Oh lord, that’s horrifying. I think “minimum two hours” is a pretty generous estimate- it’s gotta be more like 3? I lived in Kingston for two years, which is not too much further than PEC and I literally cannot imagine doing that. My dad actually worked in Kingston for a while and did the thing where he rented an apartment and stayed there 4 nights a week- he did two years of that and the driving was simply too exhausting to continue, even with the ability to stay there during the week. The 401 in the winter is a dangerous place.

              1. Diet Coke Addict*

                Yeah, Kingston to me is like 45-60 minutes on a good day and I know people who commute that daily, which would absolutely wear me down horribly. This past winter was dreadful–I take the 401 to and from work and there were times when my normal commute of 15 minutes took forty-five plus. I can’t imagine having a multi-hour commute in a snowstorm.

                Anyway, the timing to Toronto depends totally on where you’re going–we can be at Yorkdale in ninety minutes, but going to the downtown core is two hours and probably more. Conversely, going to the airport can be anywhere from 100 minutes to….three hours! Whee!

          2. JMegan*

            Jumping in on the Toronto love, and the agreement that the housing market is a little bonkers! I live in a teeny mid-town townhouse, which I recently had appraised. From purchase in early 2008 (just before the market crash) to fall of 2013, the house increased in value by over $100K. And I can tell you it’s not because of all the fabulous improvements we’ve done – literally, the only thing different now from when we bought it is a coat of paint in one of the bedrooms.

            It’s far from a suburban McMansion, but theoretically a good next step for a couple wanting to move out of their 800-sqft condo and start a family. But even at that, it’s pretty unaffordable for a starter home.

          3. Felicia*

            I just love the culture of Toronto – all the festivals, and multi cultural places to go and foods to eat. This is also where all the jobs are, and I just really like it :) Also everything is very walkable in the best areas, and walkability is something important to me. Where I live I don’t need or want a car. Also in my circle of friends who also live here and is also in our mid 20s, it just doesn’t matter so much to me to buy a house – it’s not something we want or strive towards (and that’s good, because most of us won’t be able to).

            Whatever it is, it’s probably what also draws American young people to places like NYC, LA or San Fransisco which I hear are also crazy expensive.

      2. Stephanie*

        As someone who’s watched a little too much Love or List It, I find the Toronto housing market bonkers.

        I live in the Phoenix area currently and I kind of wonder what’s going to happen out here long-term. A not-insignificant part of the economy out here depends on retirees buying winter second homes (or moving out here permanently) and consuming. The current batch of retirees are my grandparents’ cohort (so the Greatest or Silent Generation) and were the ones who worked during a booming economy and had jobs where they retired with a pension and a gold watch. Given how things are going with retirement funds in later generation, I wonder who’s going to be able to afford a second house in Sun City 20 or 30 years from now. I suppose there are always the Canadians.

        1. Holly*

          Phoenician here. It’s possible the Canadians will save Sun City. Have you seen how big our Canadian population is? They even have their own picnic at South Mountain park every February.
          (consequently, the picnic always features country music and line dancing, which sort of breaks my brain.)

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, they’re saving San Tan Valley as well. Some of the developments fly the Canadian flag and I sometimes see directions for Canadian credit cards at the gas pump (“For Canadian cards, pay inside”). The domestic snowbirds might start to dwindle. I had to get a rental car after a car accident. The Enterprise driver who took me from the body shop to the rental place was a snowbird who was a boilermaker for 30 years in Colorado and moved to Arizona on his pension. I doubt there will be a ton of those types of snowbirds down the line.

            1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

              I won’t buy a house out here (even if I were inclined towards home ownership) because of the environmental factors–we’re going to run out of water and I think it really will be unbearable hot 6-7 months of the year instead of 2-3. And I don’t see the whole freestanding house out in the middle of nowhere as appealing. I’m betting on trailer parks myself, only filled with custom mini-houses.

      3. Ann O'Nemity*

        Ugh, I know what you mean. I grew up in a retirement mecca where the average home price was $400k+, and the median *household* income was $35k. Most of the people who worked there could barely afford to rent there, let alone buy. The whole situation created a great deal of class and generational hostility.

      4. Canadamber*

        I learned this just the other day in my Management class! Average price of homes in Barrie (represent!) is $300k, and in Oakville it’s something like $750k-$850k? Idk. They just gave us a few examples. But even prices north of Toronto are rising; iirc, my parents bought our house at $280k ten years ago, and the house next to us just sold for over $400k.

        1. esra*

          I grew up in Barrie!

          I can’t imagine spending 300k to live there. I think the east end is still pretty affordable.

          1. Canadamber*

            Yeah, pretty much anything east end, whether it’s north or south, is cheap. West end is higher; southwest end is, I’d say, probably the most expensive area in town, due to all the new subdivisions that are rising up.

      5. Smaller*

        I live in Austin, TX. The insane growth happening here has the cost of renting far exceeding the median salary. We are talking an entire paycheck going to rent alone, not even bills. Then home prices are skyrocketing and everyone says to buy now, because at this moment a mortgage is cheaper than rent. How can you buy, when you can’t even save anything because it’s all going to rent? Oh and salaries definitely haven’t been evaluated to match up with the current cost of living in the city. They still seem to think it’s a small town and that 40k is reasonable when rent is $1,200 a month. This economy is incredibly painful for the younger generations, myself included.

          1. the gold digger*

            Of course, this was Austin when you couldn’t sell a house unless you were willing to take a huge loss on it. I have friends who divorced but continued to live together in their house because they couldn’t sell it at a price high enough to pay off the mortgage.

      6. Felicia*

        I live in Toronto too! Hi! And I pay somewhat less than this (not much!) but the average rent for a one bedroom appartment is 1000$

      7. Vancouver Reader*

        On the bright side, Vancouver is more expensive than Toronto now. :P I don’t know about Toronto, but in Vancouver, the house prices are through the roof because (many speculate) of off-shore investors.

        I own a townhouse in the ‘burbs and only because I’m a Gen X who bought a place way back when before the prices went completely insane. But if we want a sfh, we’ll have to move to a suburb of Inuvik.

    2. Mike C.*

      I don’t understand what’s so hard to understand about this issue! You see it all the time!

      “They don’t buy new cars, they must hate cars. They wait longer to get married, they must not like the institution of marriage. They aren’t buying homes, they must hate the idea of being a homeowner.” Lets see, what do these three things have in common?!

      Then you add the folks who don’t think you’re an adult until you have a house, a spouse and 2.5 kids. That’s a rant for another time.

      1. Cat*

        To be fair, I’m not buying a car because I hate cars (a house I just can’t afford because D.C.), but I consider not owning a car a societal good and people who don’t like it can shove it.

        1. Chinook*

          “but I consider not owning a car a societal good and people who don’t like it can shove it.”

          My guess is you also live in a place with decent publis transportation. Having had to go 4 weeks without a car (being fixed due to hail damage) was quote painful and I take a bus to work every day. I was grateful it was sumemr and I could bike everywhere but taking local transit was inefficient (it woudl be quicker to walk across town) and the taxis were rarely on time even if I booked them 24 horus ahead. And I would never have been able to visit family as there were no direct transit connections to bus terminals at either end (and train is non-existant).

          I would love to be able to be car free but it is nnot always possible.

          1. Going Anon Here*

            Agreed. I’m all for less pollution/congestion/etc, but not owning (or having equivalent access to) a car is something that, at least in the USA, is not realistic for a lot of people. If you can manage that, awesome for you! But I can’t, and please don’t judge me for it.

            I had a friend a while back who couldn’t drive due to vision problems, and I think possibly to compensate he was very arrogant about his non-driving status. I stopped talking to him after he gave me a two-hour lecture on how he thought all car owners should face cripplingly high taxes in order to encourage them to stop owning cars and to pay for all the damage they were doing to the environment… while he was sitting in my car, as I gave him a ride home from a gathering in the next state over. Talk about gratitude!

            1. Canadamber*

              Exactly! Where I live, it is just not feasible not to own a car. Plus, I like adventuring and going on road trips, and this is why I will always own a car (even though I hope to eventually live in a place where I don’t have to use it to commute to work, but rather just for fun).

          2. Cat*

            I’m not judging people who own a car. I just think for those of us who do live someplace with good public transportation, not owning a car is a good thing, not a sign of immaturity.

          3. Relosa*

            Same. I have ok public transport where I live, but only because I live in the city proper, and getting across to the other city or to burbs is LOLWAT, goodbye 3 hours of my time! The only reason I’m car-less right now is because my car died and I couldn’t repair it. I have joined Car2Go but after doing the math, I use it sparingly. I do need a car to find a better paying job, there’s no way around it.

            That being said, since I’ve spent the better part of the past six months without my own private transportation, once I do own a car again I will definitely take advantage of “choice” transit riding. There are benefits, definitely, but not having a car is hurting me a lot right now.

          4. aebhel*

            This. If I didn’t have access to a car, I’d have to walk about five miles to the nearest bus stop…which only runs twice a day. Not really feasible, especially in January.

        2. Felicia*

          I’m not buying a car because i hate them too. But I also live somewhere where I don’t need one, and that is part of the reason I chose to live here. Not everyone is that lucky, and not everyone chooses to live somewhere this expensive even if i can. Not needing a car is one of the reasons i chose it.

          1. Cat*

            I didn’t say I judged people who own cars. I just think that people who choose not to are doing a good thing.

      2. Fabulously Anonymous*

        Personally, I don’t believe getting married is expensive. All you have to pay for is a license and officiant’s fee. It’s the expectation that we have parties that don’t fit out lifestyle that is expensive.

        1. Stephanie*

          I think indebtedness might be a consideration in regards to delaying marriage. If your to-be spouse has a bunch of student loan (or credit card or whatever) debt, couldn’t you be responsible for the debt as well? I know that may be the case in some community property states.

          1. Jubilance*

            Nope, that’s a common myth but you aren’t responsible for your spouse’s debt that was incurred before you got married. It’s still separate debt. What CAN be yours if if they go out & rack up a ton of credit card debt during the marriage.

            I think the hesitation around marriage in regards to debt is the idea that debt repayment is taking away funds that could be allocated to home down payment, child expenses, retirement, etc. Plus if your mate has a lot of debt, they may have a lower credit score which will affect your rates for mortages, insurance, etc.

            1. Ezri*

              I think that the credit card debt accountability varies by state (in the US), assuming you and your spouse have separate bank accounts.

              1. NoPantsFridays*

                +1 to the prenup, regardless.

                Also, I knew a fellow who had declared bankruptcy about 5 years prior to his house purchase, and they got the mortgage in his wife’s name alone b/c her income was enough to qualify and her credit was very good. However, both spouses were on the deed — so husband had all the house with no liability. I’d be concerned were I the wife in this situation, but it worked for them.

          2. LibrarianJ*

            My fiance has some pretty significant student loan debt and my understanding is that his IBR won’t take my income into account as long as we file taxes separately, but once we file together or if certain proposed policy changes go into affect, it will. We did the math and taking our joint income into account his monthly payments would triple — which we should be able to cover, but, it did give us pause when we first started talking about getting married. And yes, we did wait a few years to get engaged so that he had time to get things in order, because his credit score is much lower than mine. Marriage isn’t inherently expensive (and we’re not having a very big wedding), but I think it definitely presents extra logistics and lifestyle changes (also, having to relocate to be commutable to both jobs) that can factor in.

            1. Ezri*

              My husband and I got married in college, and it was actually a plus in the financial department. I never got any financial aid in college due to my Dad’s job despite his not contributing a dime to my education (but I was still his dependent, technically). After getting married, the FAFSA finally realized how poor we actually were and offered me better loans.

          3. Dan*

            Well, that potential spouse’s student loan debt is something that will affect both of you, regardless of the legal implications.

            But when you look at the things associated with marriage — not inexpensive ring, a wedding (bride’s parents paying might be tradition, but it doesn’t always work out that way), down payment on a house — depending on how much they (the couple) so quickly in the marriage, well, it’s going to take time to save for it if they want everything up front.

            1. Observer*

              Down payment on a house as part of marriage expenses? Really?

              That’s a GREAT example of how generalizations about a generational group are often really about a demographic group. In this case, a very narrow demographic I think – it’s not even “middle class”.

              1. Kat M*

                Married Millennial here:

                Ring-family heirloom and, if it weren’t offered, I wouldn’t have cared about a ring either way. I didn’t want anyone to purchase one, however, because of some concerns about mining and such, plus rings are expensive.

                Wedding itself-very inexpensive and less than half of the typical costs for my area (major metropolitan US city). It should be noted that we’re also deeply religious and it was more important for us to be married than to have a big, fancy wedding.

                Down payment-hahahahaha, I live in one of the most expensive cities in the country, I work an entry level career track job and hubby works a job that pays the bills (but not career advancing). Seriously, that’s a thing? We’ve honestly given up on owning a home.

                To some folks, this is important. To me and my husband, that stuff didn’t matter. We wanted a lifetime and knew the other stuff was just icing on a cake that’s already delicious on its own.

        2. Adam*

          Yep. WHAT is expensive is getting a divorce. There have been studies showing that the economy tanking actually caused people to put off completely separating for a number of years just because the cost of getting a full divorce was way too high. That thought depresses the hell out of me.

          1. Dan*

            Ok, I’m going to contradict myself and say that getting a divorce can be dirt cheap if both parties agree to it. In VA, you can get it done for $300-$400 if both parties can agree on how to separate the property.

            However, if they can’t agree, things get expensive in a hurry.

            But given how hard it is to get divorced, it should be harder to get married.

        3. Dan*

          Actually, getting divorced is expensive. BTDT. And, as more and more people of both genders are working and getting benefits, there’s fewer and fewer reasons to get married.

          As someone in the middle of a divorce, I have to say I’ll think long and hard about getting married again. Committed relationship? Sure. Marriage? Honestly, there’s not a whole lot that the insitution of marriage itself gives that a divorce won’t take away in droves. Laws need to catch up with the times.

        4. Mike C.*

          Lots of folks will put off marriage until they are “financially stable” because they don’t feel it’s right to just jump in. There’s also the factor of familial expectations, which when they form a significant portion of one’s support and social safety net, is difficult to ignore.

          1. Manders*

            Exactly, my partner and I talked about getting married and decided to put it off until we actually needed to share health insurance, purchase property, or have a kid. Marriage wouldn’t be much of a benefit to us before then. Plus, our families have no problem with us “living in sin” but might be offended if we don’t have a sufficiently large wedding, and even a small party can cost thousands of dollars in our area.

        5. Hlyssande*

          My little brother and his fiance aren’t getting married anytime soon because she’d lose her benefits if they do and together they definitely don’t make enough to cover the lack.

          It can be a major financial problem for some people, especially if they’re on assistance of any sort, like disability or SNAP, etc.

          1. Hlyssande*

            I forgot to add:

            Those benefits his fiance would lose also include healthcare for her two children, the youngest of which she recently had with my brother (yay nephew, I’m totally off the hook for grandkids!).

            Their decision not to get married as soon as she got pregnant blew my late-60’s-very-conservative father’s mind.

      3. Mints*

        I see these too, and I wonder how boomers think we saw the whole thing. I was in high school at the beginning of the recession, with a barely growing grasp on economics. What I understood was that huge banks and foreclossing houses were the cause of everything. I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to throw my money at them
        (I’d like to buy a house eventually, but there are lots of steps between now and then, and I like condos/ apartments just as much or more than houses)

        1. Nerd Girl*

          “What I understood was that huge banks and foreclossing houses were the cause of everything. I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to throw my money at them”

          I’m a Gen X-er and haven’t bought a house for this same reason. To say that it’s only one generation that isn’t doing this is stupid. Only one of my friends owns a house, and that was a recent purchase after many years of saving and she and her husband put nearly half the cost of the house as downpayment. I’d like to own a house one day. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a child, but I worry about it and will only do it when I know that we can afford it without killing ourselves to make the payments.

        2. MJH*

          You definitely don’t have to buy a house, and a lot of people prefer renting for many reasons.

          But…you are not at the mercy of the banks and lenders if you don’t want to be. You can figure out, based on information they give you, what your monthly mortgage payments will be. You can decide how much you can afford, and if a lender can’t help you get to $999 a month (or whatever) you can walk away. Banks, back in the day, did love to tell you you could afford more house than you could, and things have definitely gotten stricter since then. But if you know your limits and work with a reasonably scrupulous lender, you will not be in over your head UNLESS you lose your job and have no other sources of income. Not paying your mortgage will definitely screw you up, but there are many steps between not paying and being ruined forever.

    3. Ash (the other one)*

      We have less money, raises are few and far between, and cost of living keeps going up. Especially in the DC area, where I make a pretty decent salary but still live essentially pay check to pay check.

      1. Dan*

        Yes, my decent salary puts me in the top quintile for *family* incomes nationwide.

        But in Fairfax County, my income is below the median.

    4. Liz in a library*

      Yes, a million times! My boomer parents had decent jobs and a large starter home by 30; a nicer home, vacations, and two kids by 40.

      They try don’t seem to understand that this just isn’t the reality a lot of people I know my age and younger will ever have. Some of it is about different priorities; most of it is about different circumstances.

    5. Ezri*

      I just had a phone conversation with my Dad three weeks ago where he told me I need to start saving to buy a house (I graduated from college less than six months ago), because renting is a waste of money. I told him I have no intention of being tied down to a house when I’m watching both him and my in-laws struggling to sell property that has been on the market for five years. I also told him how much my student loans totaled at, and he got very quiet. No Dad, I don’t have spare money to buy a house and establish an investment portfolio, even with my job.

      1. Meg*

        My parents never owned real estate. I’ve adopted a pretty nomadic lifestyle myself, and couldn’t see myself buying property any time soon. Not with my credit card debt, student loan bills, car payment, furniture payment. I don’t even know where I want to live. Renting is so much cheaper than buying, living there for 6 months to a year, try to sell or rent, move to a different area for work, and repeat. No thank you.

      2. Traveler*

        I’ve also seen arguments that say that the whole house vs renting thing, doesn’t actually become an advantage until many years down the line – and for the short term, and those of us who haven’t found their “forever” city, renting is actually cheaper.

        1. Ezri*

          That’s big for me. Yeah I have a job, but what if it doesn’t work out? Why make a potential relocation even more complicated by having to potentially sell a house? I’m married to a nomad, as well, and he likes having the possibility of picking up and moving open.

        2. Nerdling*

          You have to own your house for about five years for it to start being worth buying. At least in an area where the housing market isn’t absolutely insane.

    6. soitgoes*

      Well I’d argue that it’s a dramatic social change being brought about by economics. It’s actually already a problem that women are starting to age out of fertility by the time they’re able to sustain any kind of independent adult lifestyle. Unless they want to be married and still living dorm-style with a bunch of roommates.

      Then you throw in mandatory Obamacare and the fact that women’s premiums tend to go up right around the time they turn 30, under the presumption that we’ll all start needing maternity care all of a sudden, yeah, I’m not paying those insurance premiums.

    7. Nerdling*

      The housing market has also been skewed significantly over the past couple of decades away from “starter homes” that younger people might actually be able to afford to houses with far more space than most people need starting out that cost two or three times as much. We’re fortunate, in that in this area, you can still find small houses in quasi-decent neighborhoods for around $125K. However, once you get past that, there’s almost nothing on the market until you hit $200K+, and the houses jump from being three bed, two bath, 1000-1200 sq ft to being five bedroom, four bath, 1800+ sq ft or something like that. There’s nothing in between. And once you start looking at homes in the best school districts, it gets astronomical even for the smaller homes. And the median household income sits at $33K, which explains the vast amounts of rental properties, since folks can’t afford a mortgage.

    8. doreen*

      I think there is a social change in addition to the financial issues- but the Boomers have no one but themselves to blame. I am a Mean Mommy according to some of the people I know because although my children are welcome to live with us as long as they need to , I will not
      1) subsidize their rent because they want to live in Manhattan rather than someplace they can afford
      2) allow them to live in an apartment I bought for my retirement while I pay all the expenses (and forgo the rent I could have received until I moved in )
      3) encourage my nearly 30 year old son and his new wife (both employed) to continue to live with me after spending $30,000 on a wedding ( and the new wife wants to get their own place, so I’m guessing that will be one of the first fights after returning from the honeymoon)
      4) retire and become an unpaid full-time babysitter for my future grandchildren

      I know people who have done each of these things and most of them complain about it, but it’s hard to blame the “kids” for accepting what the parents are offering. If someone offered me a free apartment or free childcare I’d jump on it too.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Baby boomer here, and my Greatest Generation parents would have agreed with you 100%.

        I don’t have kids but I can see myself doing tough love stuff. When my husband and I first talked about getting married, we agreed that we would never be able to get our own parents to babysit our future kids. I marvel when I see grandparents raising grandkids. It’s something that is so not-what-I-have-seen-in-life. But the kid in me says, “Thank goodness someone is caring for that child.”

        1. doreen*

          Oh, I’m not talking about grandparents raising grandkids – that’s usually because there are bigger issues and I would do that if necessary. I’m talking about the grandparents caring for the grandkids unpaid while the parents work . ( which I must admit my mother did , but only because she wanted to leave her job anyway , couldn’t afford to lose the income , and my sisters and I paid her more than she made at her job. If she had enjoyed her job or could get by without the income , it wouldn’t have happened)

  10. RB*

    As a baby-boomer who has hired several “millens” in the last couple of years, I could not agree more. I’ve had only one who was an epic failure, a lazy Ivy league grad who couldn’t problem solve to save her life. The rest were responsible, eager, smart young people with great work ethics. All from different backgrounds, but shared a desire to learn and be a valuable part of the team. Great article!

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      FWIW, my one and only stereotypical millennial was also Ivy League. He actually did the corporate version of “everyone gets a trophy” – he’d raise a fuss in a department wide meeting that he wasn’t being singled out for recognition on a failed project. SMH.

      Maybe less to do with the generation, and more to do with the home life and expectations that come from privileged upbringings.

    2. What the*

      As someone who comes from a blue collar background, I really wonder if most of the “examples” are from wealthier families. I have a niece who fits the “millennial” description, but she’s following in her mother’s footsteps–making it generational in a whole different way.

  11. anon+in+tejas*

    corollary– nonprofits and social movements– stop talking about how to engage millennials and how millennials are all different in engagement and giving. It’s really annoying. really annoying.

    1. Laura*

      +1 Haha, yes!
      I work at a nonprofit, and if we have one more “Talking to Millennials” lunch and learn, I swear…

  12. Lisa*

    YES! I feel like my old company would give too many chances for new grads that just are not putting in their weight. Some are awesome, and others are just lazy. But my boss would treat them all the same like they needed hand holding. Some are ready for promotions due to awesome work and doing things on time, while others should be fired for taking a week to grab 20 points of data and doing only half the work while complaining they need more time. You can’t treat all new grads as if they are need constant supervision. An employee that you can’t trust to have contact with clients after 6 months at a primarily client facing job, should be fired. An employee that doesn’t do the work, should be fired. It doesnt matter how old they are, get rid of dead weight and stop acting like new grads need 4x more support than your average employee. There are plenty of new grads that work hard so reward those, and stop holding the awesome ones back while coddling the others. New grads are not created equal so don’t treat them like that. There are good employees and bad employees. ok rant over. Just tired of seeing great new grads leave, because they are lumped in with the lazy ones.

        1. Adonday Veeah*

          She’s my idol. Wish they’d publish the People books on Kindle so I could carry them with me wherever I go.

  13. FX-ensis*

    Hmm….Well it’s a general trend, which makes sense as people born from the late 70s/early 80s tend to have different attitudes and expectations. And of course, everybody is different in any grouping.

    But then I think articles like that are made as guidelines, not rules. It is true that 20/30s people are adept at computer use in general than 50 or 60 year olds. Or may be more open to workplace diversity (again in general, as this does depend on personality) than older persons.

    I think ultimately, we can only make generalisations of human groupings, since we’re all different. All whites, blacks, straights, gays, men, women, the young, the old, tall people, short people, etc. are not xyz. We’re all unique.

  14. MousyNon*

    What a great article. My favorite complaint by these people is “ugh, Millenials are so money hungry, they all expect huge salaries straight out of the gate!” because they evidently don’t (or won’t) understand what “inflation” means.

    A coworker once bitched about just this very thing, complaining that he made “just” $17,000.00 as an entry-level assistant back in 1980 and by-george he liked it, and these dang kid’s these days keep whining that they can’t afford to live (in the fricking expensive NY metro area, btw) on a whopping $33K!

    Do you know how much “just” $17K in 1980 was worth in today’s dollars?? $47334.61.


    Ugh this topic makes me so grouchy.

    1. Lisa*

      What people don’t get is that these kids are paying per month for loans. My friends are paying $800 – $1100 a month minimum after graduating. We have the highest interest rates ever too so even if you have no credit card debt, you are essentially paying for a mortgage in addition to rent and living expenses. So that is why most still live at home, and delay buying stuff like cars, houses, and not getting married until later. Its crippling debt or its like the NYC example where they can’t even break even without living with parents or without parents paying some of their bills to keep up.

      1. MousyNon*

        Exactly! Not only are they making less than their bosses ever made at their level, but they’re paying exponentially more for their education! Over the last 5 years ALONE tuition has risen by something like 50% (in public schools, I might add). I can’t imagine what that looks like over the last twenty years.

        1. EngineerGirl*

          That’s one of the key differences. I worked my way through school (6 year plan) and had no debt when I graduated. That really helped financially. That’s one big difference between generations. In my generation few people took on student loans. The ones that were there only paid partially for university. So people were graduating with significantly less debt burden. That meant that they could start accruing wealth immediately on getting their first job. I think that is one of the key reasons boomers have a lot of wealth where younger generations do not (plus, they’re older so they’ve actually had the time to accrue the wealth)
          Tuition absolutely has gone up disproportionately with inflation. Student loans and debt were encouraged (just like the mortgages were encouraged a few years later). And just like the mortgage bust, so was the student loan bust.
          I see a response to this – the minimalist movement. Get a smaller house, avoid owning a car, use less clothes. This is actually a good thing in breaking the consumer cycle. Better, when these choices become permanently into a lifestyle you’ll get a lot more financial freedom a resilience for tough economic times. Because let’s face it a person will go through at least 2-3 bust cycles during their lifetime.
          Can’t fix the past, but the future is still there for fixing.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            That’s true. It took me several years after getting a degree to get a job in my field, and I struggled to pay for college (having to transfer to a cheaper college half way through, working all the way), but I don’t recall college loans ever being mentioned as an option. I’m sure loans existed, but I only knew pay your own way or drop out. And that was a huge benefit, especially as those first few years were unemployed and a minimum wage job. Not having the millstone of college debt around my neck helped immediately.

        2. Relosa*

          Few things made me as ragey as when I found out that my last semester of college, which was 16 credits, no longer counted as “full-time” rate because I’d completed all my other requirements. My last semester was one internship, I was registered in one class…for 16 credits. Fortunately my internship was paid (it was required!) but I still get mad at the fact that I couldn’t even theoretically break even on one SEMESTER of working full time in school because I was charged 25% more to not even be on-campus. Like I turned in one assignment every 2 weeks via e-mail, and one big project at the end of the semester, then walked 3 days later. I got an A. My final drop-off point for my semester project? At my college town’s Y, to meet the prof at her son’s playdate.

          1. Relosa*

            I failed to insert the sentence that I was then charged for EACH of the 16 credits, not just the regular 12+ rate.

      2. Jake*

        My wife and I routinely pay $3000+ a month towards student loans in order to pay them off quicker. Combined our minimum payments are around $1200. Our pay sounds great until you factor in that expense for 5 to 6 years. I even worked while in school, so those comments about how older folks just worked their way through school, so we should too are all the more infuriating.

        1. Relosa*

          so many hugs. I don’t even gross $3k a month. Altogether I pay about the same in student debt as I pay for rent. So gross.

        2. EngineerGirl*

          I’m not sure why working your way through school comments are infuriating. As stated above, we didn’t even have the option of student loans and it turned out to be a good thing. But yes, we had to lower our class load to part time and yes, we had to work 30+ hours a week and yes, it dropped the GPA because we were exhausted.
          I don’t know how many hours your worked a week or if you dropped your class load and stretched it out. I do have sympathy for the higher tuition costs.

          1. Liz in a Library*

            I can’t speak for others, but I personally find them infuriating because I did exactly what people suggested. Didn’t matter. Many others have had the same experience.

            I worked at least 40 hours a week during undergrad, lived cheaply, went to a state school, carried an overloaded course load by taking distance and night classes to graduate early, and still came out with a ton of student loan debt. I worked two adjunct positions on top of a full-time job while in grad school full time…and still came out with some debt from that, too. The cost of education is rising all the time (and significantly), and the financial possibilities of unskilled work until the degree is earned are limited. One of the reasons that more people get loans is because those numbers are hard to get to match up.

            You can do everything right and still fail, when even the state school costs more than $10k a year, you don’t have parental help with living expenses, and the only jobs available until you get that degree are minimum wage or barely above. I was in college before the economy bottomed out; I can’t even imagine how tough it was for students a few years later.

      3. john b*

        Not to quibble, but interest rates are very low right now and if you got a (federal) college loan relatively recently, the rates are lower than they were early last decade.

        1. Lisa*

          The key here is federal, but also when you got them. Most of my education was private loans so I started with 70k in debt after merit scholarships and grants. It varies widely on what your interest rate is, based on when you consolidated them. Also, it never makes sense to consolidate federal fixed loans with private variable ones (my friends and I are in the 8-9% rates), so that is why a lot of people end up with $1k+ min payments. So even with a low interest rate, you still end up with a sizable chunk of your paycheck going to loans.

        2. Intrepid Intern*

          Well, some federal loans. PLUS graduate student loans are 7.9% or 8.0%, and (I hear) a lot of the undergrad loan rates are bouncing back up as well.

          What irritates me is that, if you demonstrate high financial need as an undergrad, that LIMITS the loans available to you as a grad student– I only have PLUS for grad school, because I was no longer eligible for the cheaper Stafford etc. loans. It’s like FAFSA thinks that, although you were broke from 18-22, you must now be rolling in cash in your mid-twenties. Which, you know, I’d love it if they were right.

      4. Natalie*

        And housing. The mortgage crisis caused a big uptick in renting, so apartment prices have increased quite a bit in most cities. Nearly all rental housing development has been clustered in the “luxury” category, and has yet to affect regular apartment prices. (My suspicions are that it rarely does, but I couldn’t find any papers on this.)

    2. Adonday Veeah*

      Boomer here. My first full-time clerical job paid crap — but it was enough to support me. I lived in a one-room, crappy, converted motel room with a hot plate and a toaster oven for a kitchen, but it was doable, even with a car payment. Now, if you can find a beginning full-time clerical position at all, it isn’t likely to support a person no matter how frugal they are, much less a person with student loans and/or a family.

      Something is very off here.

      1. Fabulously Anonymous*

        Not to mention, that full-time clerical position is likely to be a dead-end job. I personally disagree, but it seems that employers rarely move employees up anymore. Starting in the mail room and working your way to the corner office no longer exists.

        1. Adonday Veeah*

          Yes! In my day (did I actually say that?) a clerical position was a respected rung on the ladder. Moving up is still possible, but you’re right — it seems to rarely happen from those lowly positions.

          1. Lisa*

            Ha, yeah my boss would tell a data entry person who has been here for 3+ years that she knew what the job was when she was hired. She wants to move up to a specialist job or a project manager, but he refuses to replace her saying that is what she does and all that she will ever do. So moving up never happens for her even though you should be able to grow at a company. Other people have moved up, but had to start at those jobs. Getting out of data entry will never happen for her, and she needs to quit and move on rather than wasting years here.

    3. SevenSixOne*

      My mom’s favorite song and dance is how she had a mortgage at age 21 when her job paid “just” $10K… which, adjusted for inflation, is more than any annual salary I’ve had in my 10+ years of working full-time!

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        Yeah, I had a mortgage at age 21 too, on half of your mom’s salary — but I also had a working husband who brought a hefty down-payment into the marriage. Oh, yeah, and our house cost less than a new economy car costs today. Tell your mom you need ALL the details before you’re impressed! ;-)

        1. SevenSixOne*

          There are definitely some rose-colored glasses and selective memory at play here– when the conversation is “should I buy a house or keep renting?”, she’ll talk about what a dump her first house was, how she bought a home she could barely afford, how it became a money pit and consumed all her free time, how selling it a few years later was a huge hassle and she barely broke even, how if she had it to do over again she would never have become a homeowner so young, etc etc etc.

          … and she’s talking about the same house she mortgaged at age 21, the one she holds up as an example of how much more stable and financially responsible she was than today’s twenty-somethings when the conversation is “kids today are a bunch of crybabies!”

      2. Liz in a Library*

        Heh. I got a mortgage (stupidly!) at 21, too. Now I will likely have to live in this city and my not-so-great neighborhood for god knows how long, because the market crashed three months later! Even if the recent grads could afford to buy (and frankly, most of the ones I know couldn’t possibly), they’d be smart to consider the full economy before doing it…

        1. Adonday Veeah*

          My mom is living the mixed-blessing of home ownership. Her house is paid for, which is a great thing now that she’s elderly and living on a limited fixed income — no mortgage, and her property taxes are low, so she’s comfortable on very little. But that old house is falling down around her ears, and she doesn’t have the finances to fix it. It’s also not in good enough condition to qualify for a reverse mortgage if her needs should change, or even to sell without a HUGE investment if she needed a lump sum of cash.

          I may be hosing myself down the road because I’m not “building equity”, but I’m now a renter, and I prefer it to home-ownership, for many reasons, including some that you cite. I was laid off for more than a year at one time, and I was able to give 30 days’ notice and reduce my overhead by a significant amount just by moving a half mile away. And then there’s that whole “if it breaks, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to fix it” thing.

          It’s a mixed blessing.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Great point MousyNon. My father retired in the mid 80s making 25k per year. And that was ABOVE average for that time.
      Insurance companies were already starting their games. My grandmother had her nursing home care paid in full for LIFE, with my grandfather’s plan.
      My mother had three months of nursing home care paid for but only after a hospital stay. After three months. no more coverage. (Some how she managed to “have to” go to the hospital every three months. Amazing how that happened.)

  15. Bryce*

    Generational diversity is one of my “career-focused side interests,” and I’ve noticed that when it comes to generational differences, quite a bit of those differences are not only from coming of age during certain historical conditions, but also a part of being young, middle-aged, or older.

    For example, a common complaint about younger people is that they’re so self-centered. But is self-centeredness, or just plain focusing more on yourself, actually more a function of being young, or more accurately, being young with no responsibilities other than to yourself?

    That’s why it’s so important to treat everyone as individuals: Not everyone “fits the mold” because “the mold” often doesn’t reflect a person’s true self.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      And as we age, we become more self-centered. “I need this doctor, that treatment, this medication” and so on.

  16. soitgoes*

    My favorite is the good ol’ “When I was your age, I worked at such-and-such place, and now I own my own business; why are you struggling so much?” When you say, “Wow, you own a business? Could you hire me?” they all of a sudden don’t know how to tell you to keep hustling. They can’t afford to hire us, but they just assume that someone else would, if only we put in more effort.

    When I interviewed for jobs after finishing my MA, I had a lot of people ask me if I actually wanted to work, since my resume was sparse, as long-term students’ resumes tend to be. Millennials are going into a workforce that is still controlled by people who don’t always have college educations themselves, especially if you’re dealing with start-ups and small business entrepreneurs. They don’t know what the timeline of over-educated, debt-burdened kids really looks like and that it’s not reflective of how we function in the workforce. Because yes, a lot of us were forced to abandon the plans that influenced our initial decisions to pursue these expensive advanced degrees. There’s a lot of bluffing going on. Employers legitimately do not know that there is no higher-rung workforce for people with master’s degrees. They don’t want to hire us because they think we’ll bail for better jobs, but those jobs don’t exist. If anything, our degrees are fairly useless unless we pick up adjunct work eventually.

  17. Relosa*

    Thank you so much for the bit about entitlement, and doing so with such clarity. As a 27 year old recent grad (December ’12), I work two jobs, seven days a week, and just had to file my federal loans for forbearance again last night. On top of everything else, it was a crushing blow to just see everything I’ve done since graduation has gotten me nowhere – nowhere in my career, my debt, or my ability to participate in anything that marks the significance of actual Adulthood.

    Those two paragraphs really made me feel a ton better, just the knowledge that someone else who isn’t in this generation is calling all the naysayers out on their BS. It doesn’t fix the situation we’re in but I hate being told time and time again that I’m wrong about our situation when I’m not.

    Thank you :)

  18. Adam*

    I think I qualify as a Millennial (I’m not certain, I just turned 30 a few months ago), and let me just say this has been one of the most entertaining AAM comment threads for me. Ever.

    Kudos to you all!

    1. QK*

      Yep, you do. (I also turned 30 a few months ago–hello, friend!) Technically the cut-off I see floating around is 1982. But often times I feel I have more in common with peers that are slightly older than me rather than younger. I think a late-80s cut-off would make more sense, to group together people who did/didn’t experience a time before the internet.

  19. Wonderlander*

    Here’s a point that I dont think has been brought up in the comments yet – how *some* Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are holding on to their decent-paying jobs forever. Some are figuratively squeezing every ounce of life from their jobs and staying until they’re in their late 70s. Now I know it’s not their fault; social security has all-but-disappeared, interest on their savings accounts went through the floor, etc. But I’ve found they aren’t retiring early enough and thus the younger generations have even less job opportunities. I have a 71 year old co-worker who has essentially phoned her job in for the last 2 years. She keeps saying she wants to retire but it still hasn’t happened, but her job is one that any of my friends with degrees and tons of student debt would be *thrilled* to have. I’m trying hard not to generalize an entire set of the population by just my one co-worker, but I freely admit it colors my vision of that generation.

    1. Lucy Ricardo*

      Yes to this point. I too have a coworker who is classified and works 40 hrs while I’m wage so I’m limited to 29 he’s) who “phones in” his job. Always late or absent, yet won’t retire for another 3 years because that’s when he’ll make the most money. And I would kill to work 40 hrs (and would be able to) but can’t until he retires.

    2. Relosa*

      This. I was literally told point-blank in my early major classes that when I graduated, Boomers would be retiring and companies and city jobs would be WIDE open and they’d be desperate to hire us with all of our new skills. I remember the semester that each professor and guest speaker insisted on this reality. Funny how it never happened. Because Boomers know they can’t afford to retire OR they refuse to because the benefits are too good.

      That being said, 70s is actually a much more realistic retirement age than 60s, thanks to our life expectancy. IMO, anyway. My tune may change once I’m in my 50s but at this rate if I’m pushing 30 and I can’t even get an entry-level career job, then I’d be happy to still be successfully working in my 60s. Not like I’ll have a choice since my debt isn’t going anywhere :)

      1. Chinook*

        I agree. I am still waiting for the wave of teacher retirements I was told about back in the 90’s. The problem is that they , negotiated pensions based on their last 5 years and are working until their current wages match the rollbacks they went through in the late 90’s (though, doing the math, some of them must have retired by nmow, right?)

        1. A Teacher*

          My mom went the full 35 years plus 2 years of sick time saved up that had to be paid out. She couldn’t afford to retire from teaching any sooner. I’m fortunately under the old tier because of getting into the state retirement system soon enough but in Illinois (thank you legislature) they like to “borrow” from the employee funded pension system so who knows what tomorrow will bring.

          1. QK*

            Yeah–I worked in the U of IL system for a while and opted for the self-managed retirement plan. No way I’d ever trust that state legislature with my retirement investments. :(

    3. YogaLife*

      As a person eligible for retirement but still hanging on to my job, which I enjoy very much, as a high performer, and intending to do so for at least several more years, I’ve thought a lot about the issue of keeping a job opportunity away from a younger person. My own kids have had struggles to get jobs in this market. However, it’s my observation, at least in my company, that when someone leaves or retires, that position is not necessarily filled. More often, the responsibilities are spread among existing employees, or the tasks are automated. If I thought my retirement would directly result in a young person getting a job, I’d be much more inclined to give up my job.

      1. Adam*

        I can imagine how hard that must be, or even what kind of guilt that might inspire even though it’s not your fault by any means. Operating leanly is all the rage today for good reason. Wanting to provide the best possible service using the least amount of resources makes perfect sense in most industries. But there has got to be a distinction between being lean and efficient or always hanging on by our fingernails!

      2. Chinook*

        YogaLife, pelase dont’ take this as a plea to retire now as I respect each individual’s right to work as long as they are able to and want/need to.

        That being said, the other down side to eligible retirees holdign onto their jobs is that they are often paid a lot more (rightly so) and, if they retired, everyone can shift up the org chart, leaving room at the bottom for new hires who will cost less than the person replacing the retiree (in schools around here, you can often hire 2 new teachers for the price of one retiring teacher). Literally, one person retiring can mean opening up job opportunities for 2 people. No wonder it is harder to find jobs right now.

        1. Judy*

          What YogaLife said, and what I’ve seen is that they don’t replace someone who retires. The responsibilities just get handed around to whomever is left. I’m actually somewhat surprised there are folks still within retirement windows around somewhere. Most of the 3 F50 companies I’ve worked at over the last 20 years seem to start giving employees with a record of high performance lower and lower ratings once they hit 52 years old. That way the layoff after they are 55, they’ll have the list ready. At my last company we had someone actually make it to 60, which was impressive. A division I was part of went from about 500 people in 2000 to 175 last year.

      3. Wonderlander*

        Like Chinook, I absolutely respect your decision to wait to retire and I’m sure you’ve made the best decision for yourself and your family. Thank you for being thoughtful and at least considering the younger folks who need those jobs :) Maybe when you do decide to retire, you can insist your managers hire 2 entry-level millennials at half your salary each to replace you? ;)

      4. Relosa*

        Your situation is also definitely a trend – in every work level and generation, jobs are not being re-filled after layoffs and retirement – and I’d probably stick it out if I were in your shoes as well.

    4. annie*

      This is a good point. I’m a Gen Xer, towards the tail end, and that meant about a year after I got my first full time job, 9/11 happened, followed by two wars and a huge economic collapse. I basically lost a decade where I could have been increasing my salary/savings/etc because I was trying to hang on to the entry level job I was lucky to still have. People near retirement didn’t retire (some because they were supporting their adult kids who could not find jobs), people above me didn’t get those jobs, and thus I could not advance into the middle level jobs and free up my job for a recent graduate. This is slowly starting to change, but after I recently met with a personal finance advisor, I realized I’m still going to be playing catch up for probably the rest of my career to make up for those years of low level wages, not a lot of retirement savings, and not being able to pay off the student loans.

      1. Jam Wheel*

        This is me, too, only I was lucky to get out with no student loans due to having a parent who is a professor in the state system. Unfortunately it was/is a state heavily dependent on one or two industries, one of which completely tanked in the 9/11 aftermath and the subsequent 10 years, and the other I would never work in (mining). So I also hung on to my pretty good job through grad school and a few years after that and got some good experience, but it wasn’t well paid nor did it have a growth path.

        I had to move halfway across the country to get my career finally going, but then the economic collapse happened – so throw on a lay off and an additional year of freelancing, etc. My resume is pockmarked with 6-12 month stints of freelance/unemployment over the last 10 years. I try not to think of the income lost over that time because it is just depressing.

        Not all Gen Xers are sitting in some almost paid off house with better career prospects.

    5. Adonday Veeah*

      This kinda sounds a bit like boomer bashing to me. As an HR professional, I don’t think age has anything to do with phoning in one’s job — that happens at all age points. And I can identify a few over-70’s in my company who are stepping up every single day. As a boomer (although far from my 70’s), it makes me uber uncomfortable to know that someone may be resentful of my keeping my job, wishing I would step aside so they (with degrees and student loans that somehow make them more qualified than my decades of hands-on experience) can fill my spot.

      I’m a little sensitive about this topic and becoming more so as I age, so apologies if I’ve misinterpreted what you’ve written.

      1. Wonderlander*

        I tried really hard to make what I said sound as minimally boomer-bashing as possible. I was absolutely referring to anyone, of any generation, over retirement age (65-ish, depending on when you were born). Millennials were told that most Boomers would be retiring around 65 and that we’d have wide open job opportunities because of the scores of Boomers retiring. I’m certainly resentful that there are many Boomers out there in their mid-70s and still holding on those jobs our generation was told we would have, but made it clear in my post that I’m trying not to generalize. I hold no ill-will to anyone under retirement age still working, as is expected.

        And nowhere did I say that just because we have degrees makes us more qualified than you – I think we all are aware of how valuable hands-on experience is, and how little my degree means these days.

        1. Adonday Veeah*

          “I was absolutely referring to anyone, of any generation, OVER RETIREMENT AGE…”
          “…there are many Boomers out there IN THEIR MID-70’S AND HOLDING ON THOSE JOBS our generation was told we would have…”
          “I hold no ill-will to anyone UNDER RETIREMENT AGE still working, as is expected.”

          (Emphasis mine, sorry, haven’t worked out the whole bolding/italics thing yet)

          See, this is the part that I’m struggling with. It sounds to me like you believe people of a certain arbitrary age who hold jobs are keeping something from you that is rightfully yours. In fact, a job belongs to the person who holds it, and once it becomes vacant there is no guarantee someone younger will get it.

          And what the heck is “retirement age” anyway? It’s a made-up number based on a life expectancy that is decades out of date. I’m curious who you’re resentful of because people are living longer?

          I, too heard the rumor that boomers would be retiring in droves, thereby opening up tons of jobs for generations to come. But frankly, I’m a victim of the same economy you are, and I cannot retire on cue. There are many of us. When you lump us together (“those Boomers”) and blame us for your difficulties, how is that different or less offensive than “those immigrants who are taking our entry-level jobs” or “those women who are taking jobs away from men instead of staying home and taking care of their families”?

          We’re all struggling to survive here, and the economy has dealt us all a blow. And no matter how close to some mythical retirement age I might be, I am not harming you. Please stop blaming me and my “generation” (another mythical number) for your difficulties.

          I wish you well in your journey through life.

          1. EngineerGirl*

            Thanks for stating what I was thinking. A millennial can’t replace me and my experience, but a Gen-Xer might. But it comes down to this: Why should I have to retire because someone in academia incorrectly predicted what industry would do? Should I risk my old-age finances so you can have a job? I watched both my Grandma and Dad outlive their income. Should I retire early and risk the same?

        2. Ann O'Nemity*

          I think I understand the point Wonderlander is making. I try not to resent the people working past retirement age, especially since so many are doing so out of economic necessity. But I agree that it does cause more cascading troubles down to younger workers who are prevented from moving up or even fining a job opening.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Sadly, us boomers believed the LIE that we could retire at 65 or so.
        Just like so many people believed the LIE that college would put us ahead of the game somehow.
        My husband died when I was 45. I will work to my dying day. And it’s not to cheat anyone out of anything. It is so I can have food on my table and a roof over my head.
        I am not angry at anyone for thinking boomers are blocking their path, please don’t misunderstand. There is some truth to that but it is part of a story and not the whole story.

        Mostly, I am angry about the lies we were fed. I fear that my generation is the start of many generations that will find they cannot retire, ever.

        FWIW, I really feel that the best I can do about the whole stinkin’ situation is to help as many people as I can along the way. This includes training new hires. I have seen so much unwillingness to train new hires and I just don’t understand it. We are all in the same boat.

    6. steve G*

      this is interesting………..we don’t have this at my job, the oldest people are only mid50s, everyone retires early, but I could imagine it happens in a lot of places……

    7. Observer*

      If you want to feed teh stereotyping about millennials, keep up with these comments. The phoning it in bit stinks 0 but that’s true no matter how old the person is. And it is NOT at all a “senior” issue – any more than being self-centered and entitled is a “millennial” issue. But, if it’s ok for you to look at all seniors that way because of ONE senior c-worker, why isn’t it ok for others to look at all millennials that way because of your comment? (Hint – it’s NOT ok to do either.)

      And, it’s most definitely self centered and entitled to expect others to retire so you can get a good job.

      I totally get that millennials are having a hard time. And I also get that there is a LOT of unfair (and stupid) bashing. But that doesn’t give anyone (regardless of age, “generation” or anything else) a free pass to put such expectations on anyone.

      It strikes me that a far saner way to bring some sanity to the job market would be to drastically cut down on the use of internships – especially unpaid ones, and to make it harder to exempt people from wage and hour laws. After all, if you can routinely make people work anywhere from 5 – 25 hours a week over 40 with no need to pay extra, you can save a lot by hiring a few less workers and doing that.

      1. steve g*

        This point was already made multiple times and wonderlander already said he didn’t mean it they way everyone is taking it. He just gave the example of a 70yo coworker to bring up a general trend of older people not retiring, that’s all….wish people wouldn’t be so darn quick to start with the ‘you are stereotyping and stereotyping is bad bad’ argument. it’s obvious to other readers he meant his case as just one example

        1. Observer*

          Not exactly. He (she?) makes it very clear that he (she?) has “nothing against” ANYONE UNDER RETIREMENT AGE. In fact, he specifically says that he was “absolutely referring to anyone, of any generation, over retirement age ”

          Everything I says still applies. If he doesn’t want him to paint all millennials in a certain way, he need to stop painting “anyone over retirement age”. And, if he doesn’t want to be seen as self centered and entitled, he’d better stop expecting ANYONE to retire just so he can possibly have a better shot at a job.

        2. Adonday Veeah*

          Perhaps I’ve missed posts elsewhere in this very long discussion, but some of my comments are a result of very specific comments made by Wonderlander AFTER he claimed to have been misunderstood.

          I’m not trying to pick a fight — I actually think this has the potential to be a very juicy and informative conversation.

      2. NoPantsFridays*

        Yes, I think Wonderlander’s clarification just dig the hole deeper — wasn’t much of a clarification at all.

        I think it really sucks that some people who want to retire can’t financially swing it. The side effect is that they’re still working jobs that would otherwise be available for entry-level employees just entering the workforce. But that’s just a side effect — the real problem is that people who want to retire aren’t able to. If they were able to, they would, and I wouldn’t expect someone to retire when it’s just not feasible. To suggest that they OWE you retirement because you’re entitled to a job is beyond me!

    8. ThursdaysGeek*

      Um, a older gen xer is just now approaching 50, so they kind of have to still be holding on to their jobs. I’m 52 and technically a boomer, and that “decent-paying” job not only is significantly less pay than I was getting a couple of years ago, but is currently helping support a millennial in college and a gen x family that is underemployed. None of them could do my job, but we can help them keep their head above the water for awhile. That’s one of the reasons against our retiring: we’ll have a lot less money to help.

    9. Dwight K Shrute*

      I’ll hop in on this discussion. I have two coworkers who are interesting examples. One coworker has been with the company for 40 years and is amazing. She works hard every day and has a huge depth of knowledge that absolutely cannot be replaced when she leaves. I have another coworker who started telling me 3 years ago the exact day and time he would be retiring. At this point he is just filling a chair. It’s incredibly frustrating because I’m doing the majority of his work and maybe getting paid a quarter of what he is earning. I would not tell either of these people what to do with their work life. It’s not my decision to make. But, and this is the key, I will gladly point out the discrepancy to any authority figure who will listen. No matter what age or point in your career, you still have to put in the work and be a productive member of your company.

  20. Kelly*

    I’m 29 and worked part time jobs for over five years before finding a full time job last year. It’s a job and pays my bills, but I’m not entirely happy here. Part of it is that it wasn’t the job that was sold to me during the interview and in the job offer – I spend most of my day doing tasks that are a minor part of my job description. Another part is the attitude of my colleagues – it’s a public university position and they are set in their ways and pace of how they do things.

    I can understand why Millennials, especially those that live in areas where parking spaces are limited, don’t have cars. I have a car that’s almost paid off, but take mass transit to work. It’s over $800 a year for a parking pass on campus and $250 a year for a park and ride pass, which IMO should be cheaper or free to those who live in an area with reduced mass transit options.

    My sister got her Master’s in Public Health this spring and is still looking for a job. She’s running into the x amount years of experience necessary or highly desirable hurdle. Family members ask how the job hunt is going and some are well meaning, but naive about the current realities of the job market.

      1. Kelly*

        Big 10 university in a city that is slowly reducing the amount of public parking downtown. The mass transit system, bus only, may have been efficient at one time but because of increased suburban development in all directions, is outdated. Light rail and other options have been discussed but won’t happen unless the city gets more federal funding or it becomes a regional transit system, rather than a city-wide one.

      2. Alter_ego*

        I can’t tell if the exclamation point is because that’s high, or low. My campus parking was 3600 a year, and at my office now (same city) it’s 4260. The office gives us a 50 dollar a month stipend though, which makes it soooooo much better /sarcasm.

          1. Alter_ego*

            Yeah, this in Boston, home of the world record for the most money paid, per square foot, for a piece of land. Someone bought a downtown parking space for $100,000.

  21. Laura*

    YES! Thank you for writing this! I go out of my way not to broadcast that I’m a millennial, because of all the stereotyping that will then be thrown my way.

  22. Lindrine*

    I’m from “generation X” which was a bit worse I think. Everyone thought we were a bunch of do-nothings…until now they have a shiny new generational group to focus on. While I think it’s great for there to be such interest by companies in wanting to attract younger people, the irony is the perks they are trying to offer are perks many of us want and have fought for. I wish all job seekers out there the best.

  23. mortorph*

    My favorite excerpt: “Millennials don’t need or want to be managed as millennials, but rather as relatively inexperienced workers who have similar needs to junior-level workers at any time in the last several decades: clear expectations, a reasonable amount of training, meaningful feedback and employers who treat them as individuals – not representatives of a generation.”

    I think this also fits into the idea of companies wanting to find a purple unicorn to fit any particular position. Someone who they can hire with little oversight in the way of management or training.

  24. A Teacher*

    Jaded older Millennial here, my high school students (dual credit for that matter) just went through the “college choice” unit with the test tomorrow. They flat out ask if I think they should all go to college–No. Not everyone should go to college or more to the point they need to have realistic expectations, which we talk about. If you are barely carrying a “B” or “C” average because you truly don’t understand the material, start out thinking about what you can do–i.e. some of my students want to be nurses, its not that they can’t ever be nurses but based on their grades, test scores, attendance etc… they need to take the route of working as a CNA first and then deciding if applying for nursing school is for them.

    I know they don’t love talking about different loan types, learning about the FAFSA, and many don’t get why I have them sign up for their pin numbers but I know down the road at least I did my best to get them to understand the different forms of financial aid (loans, grants, scholarships, work study) and they know I don’t advocate for being unrealistic with the college choice.

    1. Relosa*

      THANK YOU for being the teacher to really expose them to college! I was so lost when I first started. There really is no actual prep for college when you’re in high school, at least not when I was in high school. Just getting in, registering for classes, and figuring out fin aid was daunting enough, not to mention the coursework and the reality of omg college.

      To be honest, I would personally recommend college to the next generation, STILL, even knowing the struggles. But the the way I explain my general situation to those around me is this: kids in my generation get to make ONE investment in their lives – just one. So instead of getting a house, a car, a marriage/family, AND an education, we get to choose one of the above. Education is still the best bet, and it’s the one I chose. About half of my peers chose the same, others decided to go a different route. I certainly don’t look down on them for not getting a degree; many of them are thriving better than I and they were able to get their house and start a family.

      And that’s kind of how I explain it to kids in high school. In my final semester I had to take a full-time internship and stayed at the same place for awhile afterward. In the year I was there, I directly supervised a ton of part-time high schoolers. The area we were in wasn’t exactly an economic boom. In reality, the ONLY way out of that place was for the kids to get into college. Even then, I was the only one around them trying to help them navigate their way through the first year, or any PSEO opportunities, or anything like that. I worked in a resort and I was the one who sat them down and showed them how to fill out their FAFSA and explain the process to them.

      1. A Teacher*

        Most kids should go to college or tech school–most. Some students are capable of college, despite what common core and parcc want us to advocate for our students. I mean there’s a student that was excited about getting a 15 on the ACT a few years ago and didn’t understand why they needed a higher score to get into a school, they are also labeled with special education. She tried the junior college for a semester and struggled. She finally did get her CNA and is working for a nursing home and is awesome from the staff I know that works there–very good with people and has great interpersonal skills but trying to make it through college was not happening for her.

    2. Adam*

      I am so happy to know there are some teachers out there that do this. You could be saving your students years of confusion and misery. Thank you!

    3. KJR*

      Your comment reminds me of something one of my kids told me that a guidance counselor told them while they were in elementary school. He was quite taken aback by a talk she had with them — she basically said that none of them are going to be astronauts…most of them are not going to become doctors, etc., so they should start thinking about actual careers where they could earn money to support themselves. He was surprised that I agreed with her…”but what about our DREAMS, Mom??” I told him dreams are good, as long as they are realistic. Learn what you are good at, but also learn your limitations, and go from there. They’re both in high school now, and are looking into realistic careers that seem to have a good job outlook (at least for now…who know what the landscape will look like when they graduate.)

  25. Haleyca*

    I would also add that the ubiquity of unpaid internships/the expectation of experience is making it even harder for Millennials. When I got to college we were seriously encouraged (pressured) to take on internships to gain experience and make us more desirable candidates. In my experience internships are looked at as “office experience” that is more impressive on a resume than retail or service work, but the problem is that many, many internships are unpaid. Many people cannot afford to take on unpaid work in their “free time” from school and have to take service positions that pay (at least minimum wage) but don’t look as good on a resume when they try and get “real jobs”. This also becomes a problem for people who live or attend school in places without lots of organizations that offer internship programs.

    Companies and organizations completely take advantage of Millennials who have no other choice but to work for free. I once worked at an internship where our workload picked up in the middle of the semester (between intern recruiting periods) and the company hired a temp to do the exact same work as me (there was no difference; I trained her). They didn’t want to pay me for my semester’s worth of support, but when they needed someone and more free labor wasn’t available they were willing to pay.

    Many of us work for no compensation to pay our dues and are then told that we are “entitled” when we try and get professional jobs after graduation. Thank you, Alison, for speaking up for us.

    1. Smaller*

      You are spot on with companies taking advantage of internships. I remember when I was job hunting a large tech company posted a position for an Event Manager. They wanted 3 years of project management experience, three years supervisory experience, and 3 years of event management experience. The catch? It was an unpaid internship which they justified by saying ” must be pursing BS in business administration.” I still get up in arms about this job posting. It was in California where companies had (and still have) no qualms about using and abusing the massive amounts of highly qualified people for unpaid internships and getting free labor.

    2. Intrepid Intern*

      Often, I see companies seeking 8 or so full-time unpaid interns every semester. Which sounds like they should be hiring entry-level employees to me.

  26. Wonderlander*

    To piggyback on what you said Haleyca, I have a suspicion that many of our generation will burn-out in the middle of our careers. Many millennials work 2 jobs AND an unpaid internship just to get through college, and then work retail or food service jobs with long hours and little pay for several years *after* college while trying to find a decent entry-level job. It’s bound to catch up to us sometime. I think all this working just to get a job and WORK will lead to early burn-out rather quickly.

  27. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    Thanks for this. Ugh – I’m at the very, very early end of what can ever be considered a millennial (born in late 1979). I’ve been a professional for 13 years, and its’ SUPER weird to me that people sometimes group me in with people who are fresh out of college and assume that we share similar views and needs in our work environment. You are totally right – it’s much more the fact that people in their early 20s are new the professional world that these vast generational differences. I have had my own struggles learning to supervise new grads – but it’s because they are new grads! When I graduated from college the economy was in good shape, social media didn’t yet exist in any widely used form, and the “internet” basically meant e-mail (well, not technically, but that was the day-to-day reality). They are using a huge range of years, but then determining the “characteristics” of this generation based on people who are in about a 5 to 8 year age range.

    1. steve G*

      I agree. I am 1981 and I often think like you do “how am I grouped in with these 22 year olds!” Not because 22 is bad (my 22nd year was awesome) but because of how quick things change. Which is the problem with the whole millennial thing. My childhood went from pre-gay-is-ok, pre – obesity epidemic in the USA, pre sharp rise in atheism, pre-mainstream rap, pre-mainstream grunge to teenage years of all the technology, better/quicker cars, the rise of the mcmansion, economic peaks and jobs all over the place……..so it is frustrating to be lumped in with people that don’t remember the “before,” meaning early 90s, and mid-late 80s, at least. Not to mention I totally did not have a helicopter parent, as the millennial stereotype goes. the problem is that Gen X is so short and the millennial generation is so looooooooonnnnnnnngggggggggg. I feel like the gen X stereotypes (as much as we hate stereotypes) are at least truer than the millennial ones.

      I do, however, think I was the first class to get some sort of “self esteem” training. But I really have to dig in my memory to remember it since it was only one class, not the stereotype of a trophy for every game.

      1. Just Visiting*

        1981 here too. I honestly think the cutoff for Gen X/Millennial should be a few years later, most people born up until 1983 or so vividly remember a time before the Internet, didn’t use social media in high school because it didn’t exist, were pre-long tail theory of media consumption. Hell, I learned to type on a typewriter. I mean, generations are arbitrary anyway, but being a “digital native” is a big part of being a Millennial and that’s not something most people born 1979-1983 are unless they came from rich families or lived in big cities (no Internet in my town until 1997).

        I’m also a total slacker, but how much of that is due to personality and how much is due to being borderline Gen X is anyone’s guess!

        1. steve g*

          1982 or 3 may be ok borders. However I do feel like I’m always the youngest person to fully remember a bunch of stuff – challenger, Berlin wall, tianamen square, bunch of 80s shows and pop culture….i can’t imagine anyone more than a year or 2 younger than me remember that stuff. also I am the youngest in my generation in my family basically /but for a few random ones had late, in the late 80s/ so at least in my family, 81 is literally the end of the generation :-/

          1. squid*

            1983. Not understanding what was going on with the Berlin wall is seriously one of my earliest childhood memories.

            1. steve G*

              It was a little confusing, like “why don’t they just go to an opening or door and walk through that!”

        2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          You know, strangely, I do consider myself a digital native , only because of a very enterprising set of parents who turned over rocks until they found computers to borrow….sometimes even just for a week while the owner was on vacation! I was a public school kid from a family without a lot money….but somehow they made it work. I’ve got a liberal arts background and I’ve been randomly offered three IT jobs in the past two years. Although, I just have a mathy sort of brain, so I probably had more of a headstart in the first place.

        3. QK*

          Yep. I would squeak your boundary to 84, though. I was born in 1984 and first had internet access at home in about middle school. I, too, feel odd about being lumped in with demographics who did not experience a time before the internet. (Or “pre-gay-is-ok” or any of the other things steve G mentioned…)

          1. steve G*

            or pre-early 90s affirmative action craze. That’s another one I thought of………not a big deal in and of itself, but when you lump all of the ” befores” together it does make for a somewhat different world.

  28. steve G*

    Oh…I came back to AAM just in time for a topic that irks me to no end as well!!!! They need to stop labeling millenials until they decide who exactly they are talking about. An article on another website said these are Gen X things….but as a early millennial (1981), I think most of these things are millennial things (expect Thompson twins, Duran Duran, The Smiths, and Whitesnake – and early millenials were exposed to these as kids anyway, but for probably #1) or borderline (like Family ties)………so…they need to decide who the heck they are even talking about before they make all sorts of generalizations about them.

    “watching Saved By The Bell, 90210, Melrose Place (the original series) The Cosby Show, Family Ties, A Different World, Friends, Ally McBeal, MTV, BET, as well as listening to Run DMC, NWA, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, The Smiths, C& C Music Factory, Soul to Soul and other rap, R&B, grunge and other alternative rock groups.”

  29. hildi*

    This article really explains what I’ve been feeling for a long time in the world of training and development, but haven’t been able to articulate. We get requests for training classes about generations frequently, but I refuse to do them anymore. Even when I did classes on it, there was always something missing or just not right, though I couldn’t put my finger on it. I knew I didn’t want to use it as a way to perpuate labels or, worse, give participants ammunition to further the Us vs. Them mentality. I haven’t taught one for a long time (by design), but when I was teaching them I was focusing more on the cultural and historical events that occurred during age cohorts’ formative years, which might possibly explain some of the stereotypical traits of each generation. And I really framed it as such – I hate how people just liked to rip on the other generations. Because like Alison suggested: Young people throughout time have always been obsessed with the World of Me. It just depends on society’s tolerance for it at the time.

  30. Jae*

    I read the articles almost everyday and also the comments. This article compelled me to join in the conversation.

    I am one of those labeled “millennial”. This really struck a painful cord with me: “and they had to quickly adjust their expectations to a fairly devastating new economic reality. Many studies show that they’ll never catch up, given that graduating into that market will permanently depress their lifetime wages.”

    With my experience, education (graduate level), and location (DC area)-I had the expectations of being in a much different place with a better salary, not because of entitlement but due to my desire to work and be the best. My question to you all and AAM, is there anything that I can do to “reverse” the effect of the market on my wages??? I know it says permanently but I thought I would still ask :-(

    1. Student*

      You aren’t doomed; you’re disadvantaged.

      One way to get out of the recession salary funk is to change jobs. Job-hopping, when done with some thought and planning, is a good way to move up the career ladder faster than waiting for your company to recognize you. It’s nearly gotten to a point where if you don’t job-hop every 3-5 years, you’ll just get more responsibility dumped on you at the same pay until you snap. Internal promotions are a thing of the past. Sooner, for some careers.

      Another thing that may positively impact your financial future is to pick an area with more reasonable cost-of-living. DC, New York, LA, Seattle, and Silicon Valley are too expensive for people starting out their lives. Pick a more moderately sized city, a place with a reasonable commute and reasonable housing prices. When you get further along in your career, then think about hopping to one of the big cities if that is the lifestyle you truly want. The most popular cities have become too expensive to get a start in any more. You will save so much money in housing, transit, and entertainment that it’s astonishing.

  31. Puddin*

    If there is some generational ‘typecasting’ in my life, it is an absolute abhorrence to the pandering to and power given to Baby Boomers. I welcome the challenges they get from Millennials in changing the status quo. Cause they sure as hell did not care that Gen X would be sucking their wind, despite the warnings.

    On an even more sour note…this is the reason I do not like the acclaimed movie, ‘Forest Gump’. just a buncha baby boomer narcissism. /bah

    1. Adam*

      ‘Forest Gump’ is such a bizarre movie, especially the juxtaposition of the two main characters and how they went through their lives during those times. You have the character who followed along all the lines of the rebellious youth, being anti-government, war, etc. and went along with all the wild sex, drugs, and rock and roll of the age and ended up paying severely for it. Then you have a guy who, quite literately, did exactly what every major authority figure in his life told him to and he ends up a content millionaire, practically by winning the lottery. I really don’t know what to think about that movie.

      1. soitgoes*

        I wonder if the book addresses this in any meaningful way. Doesn’t the film briefly mention Forrest’s KKK ancestor?

        I always felt like most viewers get so caught up in the emotions of the film that they don’t realize that the overall point is that history is made by people who have no concept of what they’re doing, which is a depressing notion.

        1. Adam*

          The movie briefly mentions his ancestor, mostly for laughs if I remember right. And really it’s not something you can hold against him personally.

  32. Not So NewReader*

    One area that I have not seen discussed (I could have missed it) but any slam against another generation could also be a slam against the previous generation that raised the target of the slam.

    So are all the slams against millennials actually slams against the parents of this group? (Ex. Statement: Millennials are lazy. Rebuttal: Well, you helped raise that generation, why didn’t you teach them not to be lazy.) Just an example, I am not saying Ms are lazy, I am showing a rebuttal to that stupidity.

    (I hope I am making sense, typing while tired.) My question is where are the parents of these millennials? Where is their out cry, “Hey, that is MY kid and her friends you are talking about!” Why doesn’t the previous generation realize that is a slam against them, too????

    1. soitgoes*

      Millennials often talk about how our parents told us to get college degrees, no matter what the cost, and are now asking us why we made such a stupid decision. I think a lot of older people forget that there’s a whole swath of Millennials who took out their loans well before the recession hit; I entered college in 2004 and finished in 2008. At the time, all of my research indicated that a young graduate would find a job that would enable her to pay back her loans. The recession really hit a few months after I graduated, I believe, while I was in the middle of my first serious job search. To act like I should have prepared for that is silly, but it’s still a criticism I face a lot.

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        I’ve also questioned the philosophy that ~everyone~ pursue a college degree. Yes, while I believe higher education does a world of good for society as a whole, that doesn’t mean that everyone is suited for or able to afford higher education. There are many valid paths to a successful career. I was lucky to have my parents pay for two years of my education before I had to take out loans. I graduated in 2000 and I just now have 5 payments left on my loan.

  33. Beancounter in Texas*

    Well, I’m very late to the party.

    Having entered an office headed by a 75 yr old man and staffed with a 76 yr old woman, a 73 yr old woman, a 65 yr old woman and a 50 yr old man when I was the ripe young age of 34, there were stereotypes & generational differences on both side of the fence. I thought none of the elders could use a computer very well, but I was wrong. They thought that I couldn’t do anything that didn’t involve a computer, but they were wrong. Their complaints were mostly just the same generational complaints that every generation (as a whole) dishes – they’re not teaching the right things to children in school these days, kids are lazy and don’t work like they should, and parents aren’t parenting right.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. In my family, we have an old letter from a friend to one of my ancestors, dated in the 1880’s. In the letter, the person complains: Things are moving so fast these days. You can send a telegram instantly from village to village! And children are lazy bums, with no work ethic. All is doomed!

    Sound familiar?

    1. steve G*

      Nice post……out of curiosity how old are you now? Wondering what generation the people in their 70s then belonged to

      1. Stephanie*

        Younger septuagenarians would be the beginning of the Baby Boomers (with a 1944 birth date). Before that, they’d be in the Silent Generation (those born between the Depression and World War II).

        1. Rater Z*

          Baby Boomers are dated with a 1/1/46 start — basically hose who wre conceived right at the end of WWII. The war babies ended about 1943 as I understand it, perhaps 144. I was born 6/28/45 so I am neither, rally a nothing gap — except I label myself a half war baby born between VE and VJ days, a three month period. Not many of us left, I suspect, except I work with one only 29 days older than I.

          People ask when I will retire. I just say when my wife dies because I am working to cover her medical bills and she is 63. My son told me he can’t picture me ever not working.

  34. QK*

    Proud 1984 baby right here.

    Allison, thank you thank you thank you, for using your public voice to speak out on this issue. You eloquently articulated many of the problems with the trend of ‘millennial-bashing’.

    One other thing that’s confused me about the whole ‘millennial’ thing is: no one seems to draw a distinction between the half of millennials that remember a time before the internet, and the half of millennials whose entire childhoods took place after internet access was common. (I grew up in a rural area and first had at-home internet access in middle school, ~1995.) A lot of the bashing articles focus on how internet-obsessed we are…but there’s a large swath of us who spent much of our childhood without the internet altogether. I think it’s an important enough event that it doesn’t make sense to generalize together people on either side of it.

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