If you were thrust into the world anytime between 1980-2000 (like me), and aged anywhere between 18-30, you can join me in being considered an entitled, narcissistic and impatient millennial. But, we are also the most educated, according to a Department for Education report, which indicates an ever-growing graduate population, with those under 30 making up a whopping 49%. I didn’t have many friends who made the decision not to go to university. Us millennials consequently constitute the majority of those being funnelled out of the university filter which leads to an overflow of graduates than the workforce cup can handle. Millennials graduate from college/university and catapulted into a labour market, and for the first time, our grades just don’t neatly translate into our dream job – ummm, say what?! Even worse in a COVID-19 world, the BBC is reporting mass unemployment amongst millennials, with those aged 16-24 the most impacted. This points to a dire situation for millennials, where many those catapulted into the labour market, are finding themselves back to square one just like a boomerang.
Despite being so smart (the statistics’ words, not mine), there is widespread sense of job dissatisfaction amongst us millennials compared to our forebears. Data screams that our stress levels are running wild and up through the roof. According to the findings, published in Harvard Business Review, US millennials have the highest turnover rates within the workplace. What’s more, 50% of those who reported to leave their job due to mental health concerns, were millennials. It’s not untrue to say that the common sentiments routinely falling out of the millennials mouths are “I’m just not fulfilling my purpose”, “I want to make a difference”, “I should be doing more than just glorified admin”. I can recount many conversations where these sentiments have been regurgitated (myself included). So, why are millennials experiencing a widespread fever of dissatisfaction and unfulfillment in their careers?
Undeniably, the number of millennials attending university shows one side of the coin, as we compete in an increasingly competitive rat race. But rapid advances in technology are equally to blame. It’s made us impatient and millennials are far less tolerant of not moving at super-sonic speed. Instant gratification (and self-validation) has become a fact of our everyday lives, and requires minimal to almost zero effort – a round of applause for technology. You can post a picture and receive likes in a matter of seconds, you can swipe left on a dating app and a day later bag yourself a few days later, you can order your long awaited iPad on Amazon Prime and receive it within 24 hours, and you can order a Deliveroo where a man delivering your pad thai arrives at your door in 30-45 minutes. The famous saying “slow and steady wins the race”? Hmm yeah, that doesn’t sit comfortably for us millennials. But why has this left us feeling “entitled” (or more accurately put, impatient) within the workplace and within our careers?
Well, the only place where jumping from the start to the finish line instantaneously is within our careers (whether a freelancer or a registered employee). To establish the building blocks of a “meaningful” and “fulfilling” career where you’re making that ever idealistic “impact”, means building trust and meaningful relationships. Being thrust into a labour market or corporations where your creative freedoms are restricted by the priorities of a corporate organisation can also make a millennial feel like they are being restricted from doing what they want, and there isn’t an app where you can swipe your way into immediate success. It is a long-winded and extremely uncomfortable journey, something us millennials (so used to instant gratification) can end up resenting. The statistics say it all!
Speaking as a millennial myself, I have (and no doubt will continue) to feel many of these uncomfortable millennial sentiments – “I want my own freedom”, “I need to earn more money” and “how do I make it to where they are?”. These are all very commonplace feelings of a typical millennial who is over-reliant on instant gratification in most aspects of their lives. As cheesy and cliché as it sounds, “it’s a journey, not a destination” and there ain’t no app to catapult you to that.