After a short Christmas break I’m back with my fourth installment in my Gen Y perceptions series based on the Gen Y Perceptions Study done by the Cal State Fullerton Career Center and Spectrum Knowledge. I hope everyone had a good break and managed to sufficiently stuff themselves with delicious food, because I know I did. In my last few posts I’ve talked about Gen Yers being tech savvy, casual at work and life, and wanting work-life balance. Next up is a look at how I fit into the perception of my generation’s sense of entitlement.

Entitlement: Will Gen Y pay their dues?

Many parents, including my own, have told their children if they want to make it in an organization, they have to start at the bottom. That theory may have had some weight years ago when most people didn’t look past high school for education. Nowadays people are becoming specialized in their training and some like myself are doing post-graduate courses. It seems foolish to think you can succeed in this day and age with just a high school diploma. Sure there are some very successful (and rich) exceptions, but for the most part college/university is the new high school; you need it to get anywhere.

This specialization that Gen Yers such as myself get in school allow us to bring more to the table than the generations before us. Personally, my college education has given me hands-on experience which I find is much more valuable than any book can teach me in a university. In 3 1/2 months, my post-grad Corporate Communications & Public Relations program has taught me many things that range from writing press releases to planning and executing an event. I’m not saying I know everything there is to know about PR; I don’t. Anyone in my position, or at any level in the business who says they do is lying. What I’m saying is I have the beginner’s tools in place so by the time I set foot in that communications office at the start of my internship I’ll be able to hit the ground running.

This is where many Boomers and Gen Xers get the perception that my generation has that sense of entitlement. I’ve been told already that I shouldn’t be settling for the menial jobs that I’ve heard some companies give to interns. I’ve been told to have initiative and tell my manager I want to have more responsibility and not just get everyone’s coffee or photocopy documents. From personal experience I’ve seen what work I’d get when I don’t say anything to the work I receive when I speak up. I’m willing to do the menial tasks as long as I get the opportunities to prove that I can handle the important ones.

In one of the surveys the Gen Y study conducted, it noted 65 per cent of Boomers and Gen Xers think Gen Yers lack the willingness to pay their dues, where only 33 per cent of Gen Yers agreed with that statement. The study goes on to mention the older generations may be less willing to make Gen Yers pay their dues because they’re afraid of making the younger generation unhappy which could cause them to leave for another job. To retain the Gen Yers, the Boomers and Gen Xers are apparently avoiding the issues of paying dues altogether and giving the new workers more important jobs; this could create a strain in the relationships between the workers of each generation, according to the study.

Conclusion

Bringing everything back to the fact that my generation is going to school longer than previous ones means we’re starting our careers later. When I graduate I’ll be 25, and like the study says about my generation, I’ll be willing to pay my dues for a year or two before I want something more. By the time they were 25, the Boomer generation was likely working for seven (or so) years. They had time to work their way up because there was less of a rush to do so.  The study says previous generations expect Gen Yers to take the same paths they did to achieve success, but times have changed. My generation prefers to take the elevator to the top where older generations were happier taking the stairs.

The finale of my Gen Y perceptions series will be on how my generation handles feedback in the workplace.

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