the privileged generation

October 9, 2008 at 3:58 pm 2 comments

what happens when the gen Y is told to sit down, shut up, and listen?

(confession: this is a repost)  So my old blog, which will remain nameless, had a few posts that I’d like to keep in my catalog of thoughts. This one, from Sept 07, was written when I was working as a PR Assistant to a somewhat uninvested boss. I dedicate it to the thousands of PR noobs struggling through another week of database maintenance and basic industry research.

the privileged generation

Out for coffee with a friend earlier this week, the subject of the new generation of workers came up. As we chatted about our post-college job search, grueling interviews, and the eventual offers, she pointed out that part of the difficulty that of finding a job stems from the fact that we are proud members of the “privileged generation.” Now I’ve heard this argument before: the 20-somethings of today’s world want it all and want it now. We grew up being told that we could do anything we wanted — encouraged more than criticized, we believe that with enough effort and a good education, we will rise to the top.

What our parents, teachers, mentors, and advisers forgot to tell us is that there’s quite a large gap between the time we’re told this and the time it proves true. They failed to mention all menial tasks and annoying grunt work we’d have to put up before we arrive. Their constant encouragement didn’t include speeches about ‘paying your dues’ and so, my generation, “the privileged generation’ has had to learn the hard way that that if we want to be president, CEO, or own our own business, we’re going to have to put in some hard time of answering phones, taking messages, and opening mail.

But daddy, I want it now!”

And so we learn the lesson the hard way. By not being handed the perfect job the day we’re handed our diplomas or by spending hours upon hours on work that makes our insides scream “I spent 4 years in college for this?!”

(so here’s the moral) You may be smart and you may have great ambition, but a huge part of early years on the job is about handling the small details of the big picture. Sending out a press release? Guess who gets to manage the database of publications and reporters? Preparing a mass mailing? Guess who’ll be collecting quotes from mail houses and list rental companies? Phone calls, filing, and organizing details. These are the responsibilities of an entry-level marketing/PR professional, and it’s these tasks that this ‘privileged generation’ has such a hard time swallowing. Filling this position, however, is as necessary a part of climbing the career ladder as getting a degree.

I’ll grant you that much of this is easier said than done. It takes patience and a few self-reminders to smile though the tasks, work diligently, and stay focused on the next step. As my friend mentioned during our coffee outing, it’s in our nature to be impatient and want it all now. And perhaps, this driven, ambitious attitude will be a major driving force in our future success — determining what story we will tell when the power is (eventually) left in our hands. But first we need to get there. And right now, getting there means answering a few more phone calls and taking a few more messages.

Take a look at the other perspective: Teaching in an Age of Entitlement (From Teaching PR by Karen Miller Russell, 8/13/08).

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in love with twitter Are you Listening? ROI & Marketing’s New Role

2 Comments Add your own

  • […] is being drained by a lack of engaging work or a managerial desire to see these upstarts paying those dues, Millenials are actually giving up their access to a speed of progression that no other […]

    Reply
  • 2. A Campbell  |  May 17, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Megan, I found your post while searching for different viewpoints on the “entitlement” label, and although it might be from two years ago, I hope you don’t mind me linking to it in my post (http://bit.ly/ckpyse).

    Thanks!

    Reply

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