Have you been noticing differences between your parents' view of a "good job" and your own? Do you find that there are differences in expectations and values between Millennials and other generations, especially in the workplace? Me too, and this is what I've been experiencing in my practice.
Recently, I've had several clients in high school express their fears about graduating, attending college, and career planning. Of course this all seems like pretty normal teenage stuff, especially because graduating and moving out of parents houses is a huge transition.
What continues to stand out to me about these clients is not that these young adults are anxious about "leaving the nest" or getting good grades in college or making new friends, but they are concerned that they will never be able to find a job that they love. Why does this matter? And why is this different than other generations?
First of all, Millennials are usually defined as someone born in the early 1980's to early 2000's. As someone who falls into this category, let me tell you that I have a completely different view of what a job or career should look like compared to my parents, and most definitely my grandparents. I have also seen a huge difference in perspectives between young adults and older adults in my practice. What's the huge difference? Although I think there are many, these are a few that I've noticed in my practice.
One major consideration is that Millennials are hungry to make change. They are the leaders of the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, and National School Walkouts to promote gun control. They want things to be more fair, and they want to feel safe. But on top of all of all that, they want to go to work and do something that they feel passionate about. Why? Maybe because trends have changed, and it's no longer frowned upon to get a degree in Art History, Sociology, or another degree that was previously labeled as "useless" or "more difficult to obtain a job" post-college. Millennials want to feel they are making a difference while also going to a job they love every day. From what I've heard from clients, friends and colleagues, a lot of Millennials would give up a higher salary in order to have a job they are passionate about. They also want a career that allows more flexibility, creativity, and positive relationships with colleauges.
One thing to consider is a difference in how Millennials grew up (compared to older generations). Some of these young adults grew up as children with parents who were absent most of the time due to the high demand of their jobs, including long hours and extended time away from family. These kids probably had a stable upbringing (financially), but also lacked relationships with one or both parents due to the conflict between their career and time spent at home.
Millennials also had parents in the Baby Boomer's generation, which is known for being "optimistic" about the future and also having more income than any previous generations. However, there were tons of people looking for a small amount of jobs. This means that parents had to settle for a job with a paycheck and benefits, regardless of how much they enjoyed their day-to-day jobs. They appreciated being employed in the first place. They didn't feel like they could advocate for themselves or ask for a much deserved promotion. They couldn't threaten to leave if their needs weren't met because they needed the income too much; Employees bent over backwards for their employers and they didn't make a fuss about it because that's how things were. Some of them hated their jobs, and their kids knew it. Of course, it makes sense that this leads to Millennials fearing they will also have the same fate as their parents: In a job and not a career. Dreading the next day. Coping with stress by drinking each night or avoiding negative emotions all-together. Having to choose between a career or a family that you see regularly.
Today, Millennials are deciding to live with mom and dad longer or live with roommates in a tiny apartment, and rent instead of buying homes in order to better align their personal and family values with their careers. Millennials values have changed, and they are no longer willing to settle for a poor work environment, low pay, lack of time-off and benefits. They want it all. Maybe it's because they don't feel like it's fair that their parents had to choose between seeing their families and having a career. Maybe it's just because times have changed and they don't have to choose anymore.
Regardless of the reason, let's hope their desire for change continues so that we can all hope to experience the ultimate dream: high job satisfaction, job stability and a reasonable salary, families that we see every day, a social life outside of work, and maybe someday purchasing that dream home.
Courtney is a psychotherapist & owner of Revitalize Wellness Therapy, which specializes in Mental Health Care for Young Adults & Couples. For more information, contact Courtney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-421-0180.