Entitled? Or bad timing? Or maybe a little of both?

Posted On July 21, 2016

Are millennials really the lazy, entitled brats they’re made out to be? Or is the millennial stereotype a media creation?

Sarah Kendzior suggests in a recent article for Quartz that the image of millennials as spoiled narcissists is a media-generated “myth” that ignores the economic conditions under which the generation has grown. Far from expecting a plethora of options to cater to their whims, Kendzior argues millennials have suffered from a lack of options in the wake of the Great Recession, with lower incomes, less mobility and greater dependence on relatives than previous generations.

Let’s say this out the outset: Generalizations of any group of people – whether that group be characterized in generational, racial, socioeconomic or any other terms – are just that: generalizations. Not all Baby Boomers were loyal employees who worked for the same company all their lives – indeed, research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that Baby Boomers switched jobs early in their careers more than millennials do.

Not all Gen Xers are slackers. The workplace is filled with many hard-working, innovative, go-getter Gen Xers. And not all millennials are burdened with the sense of participation-trophy entitlement that they’re perceived to have.

That said, there is certainly anecdotal evidence of an entitlement complex in millennials. There was the journalism student who sniffed at the idea of working for the New York Times after an internship coordinator took issue with the drawings of shooting stars and bats on her portfolio. She obviously felt that she had enough options to thumb her nose at the most prominent employer in her chosen profession simply because she found the workplace “sterile.”

And there was the now-former Yelp employee who took to the internet to voice her frustrations with low pay and a lack of upward mobility in her entry-level position. On one hand, her open letter smacked of a remarkable lack of patience as she complained about being stuck in customer support for “an entire year” instead of quickly moving into her preferred media role. On the other, living on an entry-level salary in a city like San Francisco may be bordering on the impossible.

Which brings us back full-circle to Kendzior’s point. Most millennials are still fighting in a tight job market that, while improving, is still sluggish. Two months ago, the country had its worst month for job creation since 2010, according to U.S. News and World Report. Non-farm jobs were up in June, but the overall unemployment rate actually increased by .2 percent.

There are entitled millennials, but not all millennials feel entitled. Some are battling to gain a foothold in the job market just as the Baby Boomers and Generation X did before them. While there are trends and characteristics we can explore to understand generations, we have to understand that those trends and characteristics don’t necessarily define them.

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials, Recession Economy, Uncategorized, Work