Dear Corporate America: A Letter from a Traveling Millennial

Dear Corporate America,

I know what you say about us millennials. We have no loyalty, no work ethic, and all we care about is ourselves.

We’re dependent on our parents, and we’re entitled narcissists because we received too many participation trophies as children.

I’m guilty of some of these things. At age 25, I still live with my parents and so do a lot of my friends. Frankly, I like that I don’t have to spend half my paycheck on rent. And I like recognition for my work, which I guess is in some sense a participation trophy. But the fact that we have no work ethic and no loyalty to the workplace? That is where you’re wrong.

Sean Lyons, co-editor of Managing the New Workforce: International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation says “This generation has the highest likelihood of having unmet expectations with respect to their careers and the lowest levels of satisfaction with their careers at the stage that they’re at. It is sort of a crisis of unmet expectations.”

The point isn’t to complain about the lazy millennials quitting their jobs left and right. Rather, the question to ask here is WHY? Why are we so dissatisfied?

I, amongst many millennials, quit my job that made me miserable. I quit because I was tired of cancelling plans, begging to take my vacation time, being micromanaged by multiple people, and having virtually nothing to show for my efforts. I quit because I value lunch breaks, education, hobbies, and travel in addition to working. But work was all or nothing. And the saddest part in all of this is that I’m not alone. Friends of mine have left all types of jobs from a variety of companies – everything from small agencies to giant tech companies. And they all cited one of these reasons.

Corporate America – you might think we’re entitled, but maybe we’re just utterly disappointed. It’s not that we’re lazy. It’s that we want our work to mean something. We want the opportunity to contribute our ideas because we have some good ones. We want to be innovative – to make the rules, change the rules, and break the rules. We want to make mistakes and learn from them. We want to matter – not just so we can go home and say “work can’t survive without me.” No. We want to make a difference – to use our expertise as digital natives and channel it into something great. Why else do you think there are so many startups out there? Why do you think so many millennials are choosing to work at startups over the large corporations?

We don’t want to be told that we can’t contribute ideas because this is how things have always been. We don’t want to hear that we have to cancel our plans three times a week because of a work “emergency.” And we don’t want to hear that we can’t take vacation time because work is just too busy.

At the end of the day, we want two things: flexibility and opportunity. Give us the opportunity to innovate and lead. Be flexible, and let us determine what works best for our work style. The future I see is one that allows me to seamlessly incorporate my work into my life and my life into my work. It sounds farfetched and idealistic, I know. But idealism is another great trait of our generation.

Dear Corporate America. We’re the next CEOs, senators, and world leaders. We’re here to stay. Give us a chance and don’t stifle our ideas. You might like what you see.

 

An open letter to corporate America about why young American travelers are frustrated with the work system. Read it in full on Passport & Plates!

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  • Great post – wonderfully expresses how many of us feel and why 🙂

    • Thank you for the kind comment! I find that so many people are frustrated with this rigid system – something needs to change!

  • Sell All Your Stuff

    Interesting, as a Gen X’er – gasp, I have revealed by age. I have always felt the same way. “This is the way it has always been”, never went over well with me. Maybe, that’s why I live the life I do now. Time for me to make a difference on my own terms. Same goes for all you millennials!

    • Haha I won’t tell anyone!
      But yes, I think a lot of people of other generations agree with this perspective. Maybe millennials just get a lot of bashing for this since we’re new(ish) to the workforce. Glad to hear that others think the same way! The system just has to change – otherwise we’ll all find our own way (which is definitely not a bad thing)!

  • Ahh yes! I never understood the attitude than anyone who isn’t 100% devoted to their work is being lazy. Maybe there are other aspects of life we’d like to work on? Like maintaining healthy relationships, educating ourselves, creating art, and figuring out how to make the world more enjoyable for future generations? And- god forbid!- fun? All of those things matter more to me than a paycheck!

    • Agreed wholeheartedly! I do think it’s important to do your work well, but everything in life is all about balance – work included! We work to live not the other way around.

  • Fantastic post! We’re not lazy or entitled just because we aren’t content to do things the way they’ve always been done. We’re just innovative enough to find ways to do life differently, that’s all.

    • Thanks Karyn!

      And definitely :). I think we want work to integrate seamlessly into our lives, rather than accept that it will take over. I hope we start seeing some changes now that millennials are entering the workforce!

  • I love it. Everyone I know works incredibly hard – but also we’re not willing to put up with bad working conditions. Work can and usually is a key and important part of life, but it doesn’t have to be horrible and it certainly isn’t the only interest in my life.

    • Thanks for the comment!

      I agree! I would say the majority of millennials I know work incredibly hard! Because work inevitably takes up so much of our time, it should be somewhat fun (and flexible if I’m being idealistic)…definitely not horrible.

  • Great post! Unfortunately my friends are still all working (hahahaa) seems like I am the only one who quit everything and left together with my boyfriend. We’re on our way to make it ourselves and I agree, we can’t deal with all these philosophies anymore. No point in coordinating a whole life towards someone else, a huge company just to get no flexibility out of it. Also, I think we just want to get our own thing done, right? Work hard, integrate your work life into your normal life, create a balance and earn the money for yourself. Let’s go for it 😉

    • Thanks!

      That’s awesome that you were able to quit and build your means of making money independently! Congratulations :). I definitely see the benefits and appeals of working for a company – however, i do agree that it shouldn’t be at the expense of lack of flexibility. It’s all about balance!

  • It passes on to corporate Asia as well where it goes beyond a job – born, get educated, get a nice job in a big company (engineer, doctor, lawyer are the only or top 3) and then get married/have children and then of course die.

    If you’re not doing that in order, you’re not “normal”. That’s what I constantly get from my mom and sometimes my dad too. It’s time to break free from this stigma!

    • I know that all too well! I’m Arab and it’s a very similar pattern. I think it’s important to show more and more people succeeding with a “nontraditional” lifestyle or job. With the constant evolution of technology, more and more people are able to work and life a travel lifestyle which is fantastic. I’m sure society will begin to view that as the new normal over time! 🙂