Millennial with the Microphone

It’s the ever-increasing type of leadership forum: Communication How-To’s on the Millennial species.  From “Dealing with Millennials in the Workplace” to “How to Manage Your Millennial,” they’ve gone above and beyond with the proper ways to care for your millennial.  Water them once a day and they’re sure to flourish…

Okay they’re not all that bad.

But, I’ll share a little secret, straight from a millennial: Give us your expectations, and let us show you how we thrive.  We come from a culture of fast-paced, innovation; we are an eager generation.  Give us room.  Let us prove ourselves to you.

I could never stress it enough, but please don’t treat us like children.  Your children, specifically.  Yes, I’ve heard you time and time again: your daughter and I are the same age, and you know exactly how my mind works; there is little less motivating than not being given the opportunity to be an adult in the workplace.  Treat me like you would have liked to have been treated 25 years ago, or 30, or 40…  Share wisdom, and insight, critique, and strategy for improvement; do not mistake our willingness (and happiness) to learn new things.

It’s more simple than being up to date with all of our interests, and styles of learning, even.  Some CEOs will take their stubborn way of business to the grave with them.  But there comes a time when you realize the whole world has changed around you and you must ask yourself, “If I run my business the way I’ve always run it, will I run it into the ground?”  Or can I accept new input- listen to my employees, of all ages, genders, and races, and trust that what they bring to the table is valid, if not vital?  Can I trust that I’ve built a culture of appreciation for this company that allows them to have meaningful suggestions for its success?  If you can’t say yes to that… you don’t need to spend your time Google searching ways to manage your millennial; you’ve got bigger problems.

We won’t do things the way your founders did things, or even the way you did things when you were our age.  But that’s the beauty behind diversity.  Let us bring a fresh perspective, our perspective.  As much (and there is much) that we can learn from someone who has established reputability in an industry, they too can learn from- dare I say it – a millennial.

The Experience

When I was seventeen, I believed in the world ahead of me.  In possibilities, and opportunities.  In grand romance, and wild freedom.

Three and a half years later, I’ve moved back home.  Things didn’t all pan out the way I planned.  The collegiate experience will forever be the life I only got a taste of.  I went into that life a girl, and in the summer, all those boxes I never unpacked when I came back will be transferred to the house I share with my husband now that I’m a woman.  All of the experience from the past year: my 9-5, The Budget, this sparkly ring on my left hand, the “real world” — none of it can be undone.  It can’t be un-experienced.  Possibilities were narrowed.  Opportunities came and went.  Some were taken; others were not.  And more still will be decided.

I know what people think when they see me as a representation for my company.  I know what marketing blogs and infographics say about companies who hire 20-somethings to fill the rapidly-spreading need to manage social media.  They say we can’t possibly know where to start on a social media marketing initiative; we don’t have the experience.  They say we’re fickle and restless.  But to be fair, those articles and statistics are referring to recent graduates.

I refer to myself as a young professional.  According to the Chamber of Commerce we belong to, their Young Professionals organization is intended for professionals in the area ranging in age from 21-40.  But I guess you can just rule me out of that one.  I don’t qualify.

Yes, I am 20 years old.  I work at an insurance agency managing social media, small marketing projects, web development, answering phones, and the coffee.  I am getting married in 6 months.  I dropped out of college over a year ago because I couldn’t afford it, and I didn’t qualify for any more aid.  I am paying back the loans, as I simultaneously even out the balance I left on my school account.  My parents have agreed to cohabiting while my fiance and I pay for our modest wedding and plan for our first year of marriage.

I’ve had people look at me strangely when I tell them I work at an insurance agency.  I’ve had them make the “were you even born when…” jokes.  People still call me “sweetie” or “hon” when I answer the phone.  I actually had a man at a chamber event tell me getting married was a mistake.  Because I lacked experience.

What exactly does it look like I’m doing, sir?