All I’m Sayin’ is Give Y a Chance

I’m not buying all the generalizations about generation Y, also called millennials, echo boomers, and the trophy generation. They’re getting through college and into the work force. I’ve seen the book The Dumbest Generation. I’ve seen the ads for special corporate trainings on how to deal with them. And I don’t like it.

Generation generalizations can be amusing. It’s a good parlor game. But does anybody seriously believe that there’s really a generation that is over-entitled, over-coddled, lazy, demanding, and so forth?

I don’t.

And why does it always seem like it’s gen-X that’s doing most of the complaining about gen-Y?

Could it be as simple as the fact that the people just out of college and into the workforce are using previously nonexistent technology to voice the same kind of sentiments that 20-somethings have had forever? So we have phenomena like the 10 best gen-Y blogs, and a Wikipedia entry, and all of that?

Isn’t everybody impatient and demanding when they’re 20-some years old? I was. I just didn’t have anywhere to say so. Remember the 1960s? What, we weren’t demanding? I certainly hope we were. And you 30-somethings and 40-somethings, you don’t remember what you said about your first job?

Generation Y is supposedly more entrepreneurial. Is that a function of the people, the age group, or the changing world we live in?

I like Brian Moran, who’s a real expert in small business, but earlier this week I caught his post Fixing Generation Y-ner. Brian jumps onto the bandwagon started at NBC, pasting a stupid law suit onto an entire generation. One recent college grad sues the school because she doesn’t have a job. Do we really think that’s a symbol of a generation? I don’t. And he jumps on the trophy story, which has the whole generation suffering from too many trophies for all, without distinction between winning and losing. I was there for some of that. I coached soccer for kids in that generation. They know the difference. The trophies fooled nobody.

I taught my start-your-business class this again year, as I have for many years, and watched how hard a bunch of graduating seniors worked to get employed in this worst-of-all-years employment situation. They didn’t look entitled to me. And I watched my own two millennial daughters get into the job world, and neither one of them seemed all that demanding or all that entitled. True, that’s not much data, but still, not very much of this gen-Y stuff is based on data.

I say give them a job, give them a break, and so what if they want meaningful work. I did too. And so did you.

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