The Underrated Potential of Millennials
Meet the millennials
If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you’ve probably heard the term “millennial.” Also known as Generation Y, millennials are defined as the group of people born between 1982–2004. At this point, the term can feel like a buzzword — and a negative one at that.
Millennials get a bad rap. Apparently we’re just the worst. We’ve heard it all — we’re entitled, lazy, spoiled, self-centered, the list goes on and on.
In a society that aims to eliminate stereotypes and be unified, it seems a bit regressive and counterproductive to generalize and judge a group of individuals solely based on the date they were born. Am I wrong?
While each generation has strengths and weaknesses, the attacks on the character of millennials are very incessant. There are many millennials who do not feel as though they fit into those harsh stereotypes, and are simply sick of hearing about how bad their generation is.
They are the future
There are a lot of things to be said about this generation, but the one thing that can’t be denied is that they are in a position of power. Millennials represent the largest generation in the United States. By the year 2020, 86 million millennials will be in the workplace, representing a full 40% of the total working population. The importance of the group extends beyond their numbers, though. Millennials are a technologically connected, driven, and diverse group of people. They possess the creativity and innovation that is needed to move our society forward.
Numbers don’t lie
One of the main reasons millennials stand out is because they are the most diverse generation in history. According to The Decennial Census and American Community survey, 42% of millennials identify with a race or ethnicity other than non-Hispanic white, around twice the share of the Baby Boomer generation when they were the same age.
Many millennials are the children of immigrants. Around 15% of those 2- to 34 were born in a foreign country. As we’ve discussed in a previous post, diversity is extremely important to any institution, organization, society, etc. In this way, millennials are unique compared to past generations. The diversity millennials grew up with gives them an edge in a global marketplace.
Millennials also stand out because they are also the most educated generation to date. According to a study done by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, about 61% of adult millennials have attended college, whereas only 46% of the Baby Boomers did so. More millennials have a college degree than any other generation of young adults.
In 2013, 47% of 25 to 34 year-olds had received a postsecondary degree and an additional 18% had completed some postsecondary education. Millennials are also more likely to attend graduate school than previous generations. Among 18 to 34 year-olds, college enrollment stood at 19% in 2010, up from 15 percent in 1995. Graduate school enrollment for the same age group has increased at an even faster rate, jumping from 2.8% in 1995 to 3.8% in 2010 — a 35% increase.
Women of the future
The fact that more women have been perusing an education has played a huge role in millennials becoming a highly educated generation. Millennial women are attending college and obtaining degrees now more than ever before in history. Women have closed an educational attainment gap with men that dates back to World War II. A study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research reported that starting in the late 1990s, just as the first millennials were completing high school, women began to outpace men in completion of both four-year college and graduate degrees.
Millennial women account for an large share of our skilled workforce and enter the labor force with early career employment rates that are considerably closer to their male peers than past generations. Hourly wages, earnings, labor force participation, and employment for young women have risen relative to those for young men in every decade since 1980.
This commitment to higher education stems from a labor market that grants large rewards to more educated workers. Research has shown that perhaps the single most important determinant of a person’s income is their level of education. As the most educated generation in history, Millennials have a larger chance to be successful earners, which could help prevent or help offset possible recessions in the future.
The era of graduating college and immediately being able to find a good job unfortunately seems to be a thing of the past. Many millennials know the struggle of obtaining finding a stable, lucrative job. This struggle has fostered a generation that is eager for new opportunities. Millennials are more likely to be creative and entrepreneurial, which translates into employees that are driven, creative, and dependable.
A study by Young Invicibles found that more than half of the millennials surveyed expressed interest in starting a business. Many millennials have become successful entrepreneurs in their 20s, This is extremely impressive and promising because this generation is just beginning to reach the peak age for entrepreneurship, which is generally in one’s 40s or early 50s. Millennials are still learning, growing, and succeeding.
Millennials are more connected to technology than any previous generation. This group has had groundbreaking technology at their fingertips since they were children, which makes them more easily adaptable to future advances in technology. As technology continues to evolve, millennials have been and will be leaders in the creation and consumption of technology.
Here are some millennials who have challenged those stereotypes:
Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp
Age: both 35 years old.
Their popular website, Pinterest.com allows users build image collections of ANYTHING! Some of popular categories include D.I.Y, home inspiration, recipes, fashion, the list is endless. In 2016, Pinterest $300 million in revenue.
Brian Chesky is the cofounder and CEO of Airbnb. Airbnb is an online marketplace that connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for a place to stay. Airbnb users include hosts and travelers. When you travel to another city and need a place to stay, you can choose a typical hostel or hotel, but Airbnb gives you the opportunity to live in someone else’s home. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Airbnb is typically cheaper than your traditional hotel which is a huge advantage for Airbnb. Airbnb has become a hit with millions of users in the recent years. More than 60 million people have used Aribnb’s rental service, which operates in 35,000 cities in more than 200 countries. In September 2016, the company raised $555 million at a $30 billion valuation, part of a reported $850 million funding round.
Leen Kawas is the CEO of M3 Biotechnology Inc. The company focuses on therapeutic programs for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and age-related dementia. An immigrant from Jordan, Kawas came across the research while pursuing her doctorate at Washington State University and make the leap to take it to market. In 2016, she was awarded the the Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Association of Washington Business.
Ek is best known as the co-founder and CEO of the music streaming service Spotify. In 2015, his company is was worth a total of $8.4 billion, which is double the value of their closest competitor Pandora.
Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi
Ages: 33 and 31
Houston and Ferdowsi’s company, Dropbox, creates folders on the user’s computer, and those contents are then synchronized to Dropbox’s servers and to other computers and devices that the user has installed Dropbox on. This simplifies the user’s experience by keeping the same files up-to-date on all devices. Dropbox uses a ‘freemium’ business model, where users are offered a free account with a set storage size with paid subscriptions available that offer more capacity and additional features.
Millennials are criticized for “lacking loyalty” to their employers and have a reputation for bouncing from job to job. However, statistics don’t support this idea. According to the White House study mentioned previously, millennials actually stay with their employers longer than Generation X workers did at the same ages.
But if they are switching jobs, you can’t really blame them. As learned in a study by Robert H. Topel and Michael P. Ward published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, switching jobs has historically been a major source of wage growth for young workers. Longer periods of time spent with the same employer raises concerns that reduced fluidity of labor markets may be curtailing wage growth, particularly for young workers.
Jamie Gutfreund, chief strategy officer for the Intelligence Group put it well. Millennials are essentially “venture consumers.”
They’re not looking to fill a slot in a faceless company any more than a good venture capitalist is looking to toss money at a faceless startup. They’re looking at opportunities and strategically investing in companies that will allow them to grow and succeed.
Millennial advantage in the workplace
As we’ve discussed, the millennial generation brings unique talents and perspective to the modern workforce. Companies that are smart enough to take advantage of the millennial mindset, rather than criticize it, will have a major advantage over competitors that are too slow or unwilling to do so.