“That’s such a millennial thing to say.” We’ve all heard it at some point in the last five years. As someone who falls smack dab in the middle of the Millennial birth years, I would like to start by saying, “Millennials aren’t all that bad.” Depending on who you ask, the Millennial generation was born roughly between 1981 and 1996. When we think about the changes in our country, technology, and social norms during that time, holy cow have we got a story to tell!
Being born in the late 80s myself, I still remember the rotary phone that my parents had in the kitchen. My younger brother wouldn’t even know how to dial that bad boy. Kids today will never understand the rewind or fast forward feature on a VCR, and the patience that was built because of it. Dial up internet (shut the front door!) has a special place in our hearts, and a sound that excites vermin of all sizes. Don’t lie, you just heard your dad’s old dial up in your mind, and you’re resisting the urge to cringe.
I was one of the lucky ones to start a Facebook account right before the end of high school. Sorry Mark Z, I somehow twisted the 18 and over rule. When I look back on the young Millennial me, courtesy of the “Memories” feature, I can’t help but laugh. Let’s just say I shared a lot of T. Swift and Biggie Smalls lyrics, back in the day. Worries were smaller then, and writing on a friend’s wall was still a thing. Since then we’ve added Instagram and Snapchat, among other instant-share apps. And, I no longer have to wait to get home to add an album of pics of my puppy from a day at the park. I can share it right away, with hash tags to boot.
Looking back, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. As a soon to be over-30-year-old (instant sweats), I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have some words of advice to share with the next generation about to enter the workforce. So here it goes, please hold all comments to the end.
Top 3 Career Tips from a Millennial
Punctuality is Still a Thing.
Be on time. Actually, be better than that and arrive early. As someone who’s worked for all types and sizes of companies, being to work on time will always be a key mark of maturity and respect to an employer. And to be honest, as young people today, there’s no excuse because you most likely have an app for that! Waze to work? Heck, yes! Being on time not only says “I want to be here” but it also says “My time here is valuable.” Need help with this one? Set a leave-by time reminder on your phone to help you get out the door on time. Or, use the old trick of setting your clocks ahead 15 minutes to set yourself up for success.
Don’t Forget to Use Your Words.
In a technology-cray era, where everything and everyone can be connected by an instant click of a mouse or tap of a finger, don’t forget to revert back to your most natural form of communication by TALKING face-to-face. As open concept office spaces continue to appear, you’d think that collaboration would increase too, but I’ve seen the opposite. We have to get out of our chairs and make small talk with the person next to us. Ask yourself, will my point come across more clearly by sitting down and having a conversation with my colleague, as opposed to sending a four paragraph email outlining the same key points? The answer is easy, get up and go get it. Ensure you support and participate in a culture with open communication.
Regardless of your role in an organization, be the best you that you can be. Take hold of your job and become a master of your skills and responsibilities. Be passionate about what it is you bring to the table, so much so that your coworkers can see and feel your impact. Your first job in the real world will be a learning experience, and it might test your patience, but it’s where your work ethic begins. We are all products of our experiences, and going the extra mile in the most humble of positions, is where you will learn and grow the most.
Moral of the story: Build on your experiences, revel in the generational uniqueness that is you, and don’t forget to share your lessons with those to follow. As we look to the next generation to make their mark on the world, don’t forget to give a shoutout to yourself for becoming the Millennial you are today.