This post was originally published on The Huffington Post and written by me, Jessica Kline.
It’s true, according to the NY Times, “the proportion of new American high school graduates who go on to college – a figure that rose regularly for decades – now appears to be declining. In 2009, 70.1 percent of new graduates had gone to college [compared to the current 65.9 percent]”. On the other hand, 74 percent of those non-college students were in the labor force by October 2013 which is a figure that is on the rise from previous years. So with college attendance percentages dropping, but the percentage of those dropouts entering the labor force rising, which is it… is Gen Y unemployed, lazy (since people assume college attendance correlates with laziness), or neither?
We may be unemployed, but we are not lazy. We are a highly entrepreneurial group who are the world’s social media gurus and would rather wear jeans and flip flops to work than a pair of $600 heels. We are more likely to check out a store that a friend has checked-in at, we believe our laptop is way more informational and important than a textbook, and we’d rather take a pay-cut than stick to a 9-5 gig at work. We are more concerned about social issues than any financial ones on Wall Street and we will not disagree that we are totally the “me” generation.
How could we not be so self-concerned and “me”-minded though? We have watched previous generations get so burnt out they had to go on medication, our fathers not show up to our chorus concert and soccer game because he just “had” to go to work, our mothers disappear into her office on the weekends when her company’s president called, and we’ve literally seen our aunts and uncles cry during the holidays over their job. We are looking up to older generations in many ways but when it comes to work, we say enough. We aren’t lazy, we’re extremely proactive for recognizing the previous cultures of work hard but no playing hard. The adage “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy” rings true to us. So we created a different one. We may be self-centered but you have to look at the glass as half-full on this one because what’s so wrong about caring about our well-being, health, and happiness?
The percentage of high school graduates who choose not to go to college may be on the rise but so is the percent of entrepreneurs and healthy individuals. Why? Because, our generation is starting businesses at a faster rate than any other generation and we are the healthiest generation in over twenty years. We see more security in self-employment than any full-time job and by the way, 89% of us will choose when and where we will work rather than you placing us. And we started this health-kick…green menu-choices anyone?
I spoke with Caitlyn May, a rising Bryant University senior who is completing her honors thesis on this subject of Gen Y’s “laziness” and she gave her opinion through much research–
I have most of the Gen Y qualities that managers and business leaders are complaining about in the media as worrisome to the workplace: I am opinionated, I question authority, I am a quick thinker and I am selfish. However, I see that as having good and important input, adding value to businesses, solving problems instead of letting them sit, and my selfishness is starting to lead to a great work life balance. These qualities are actually why I got accepted to outstanding institutions like Bryant University and am holding internships. This is why I am researching how Gen Y can positively impact the workplace; by having these different qualities. In my opinion, having innovative intergenerational groups will solve business problems faster and better. Different generation values and experiences bring different qualities to the table with any project. Stereotypes just need to be overcome for other generations to work with millennials. Gen Y has worked hard to get where they are, and has more intrinsic motivation than previous generations. It’s sad and I take it personally offensive when I hear ‘millennials’ used as a derogatory term…it is stereotypical. Although the future will be different with 75% of the workforce being Gen Y, I am positive it will make for better business and an overall happier life.
It sucks for all of us to hear everyone say what a lazy, self-centered, and obnoxious generation we are. Our drug and alcohol substance abuse is the lowest it has been in decades, 75% of us see ourselves as authentic and not willing to compromise family and personal values, and we feel a personal responsibility to make a difference in today’s world.
According to Forbes, Gen Y will account for 75% of the global workplace by 2025. Things are going to be changing. All that we ask is that you hear us out instead of assume we are lazy. Now there may be some who define the term lazy in our generation, but don’t you know some people like that too? We are a very active, multi-tasking, opportunity-grabbing, and curious group. We go on multiple interviews weekly during our job search, we love to pick up random hobbies like DIY-projects, we say in ten years we will be millionaires, we constantly look for new opportunities in all different directions, and we love to travel the world.
That is not lazy-that’s dedicated, creative, driven, and adventurous. But, I guess I’m speaking on behalf of the not-so-lazy Gen Y’ers, the majority.