You’ve heard it before: millennials are lazy. They’re whiny entitled brats who don’t actually want to work, but instead, want to spend their days swiping right on Tinder, hooking up with strangers instead of actually dating them, and complaining about the government without trying to change it. Sure, this might ring true for a select, highly conspicuous few, but the majority manifests the complete opposite. Contrary to popular belief, this generation is ambitious, private, hardworking, and eager to make change. Yes, really.
To make the world a more congenial place for all generations, we swiped left on some of the most popular millennial myths and misconceptions. Enjoy reading this on your miraculous handheld computing device.
The Myth: Millennials are lazy and unambitious.
The Facts: Millennials are actually hard workers who want to prove themselves in the workplace.
Calling an entire generation lazy is a bit of an over exaggeration, to say the least. If anything, millennials are more ambitious because they’re often plagued by the stereotypes that define them, and therefore have more to prove. So what’s the easiest way to disprove this theory? By looking good on paper. In 2013, NACE reported that from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, the amount of college graduates taking on at least one internship grew from less than 10 percent to well over 80 percent. In other words, millennials are just as willing if not more to take on coffee runs and stipend-less work than baby boomers, despite the fact that a job offer isn't guaranteed. However, when interning millennials make their way through the job market, their resumes show they're qualified and determined workers.
Take Melissa Crosta, a recent PR and Journalism graduate from Monmouth University, who currently works at Nickelodeon after having three production and digital games internships as an undergrad.
“I knew the position really well due to my internships, and throughout my three years as an intern, I always went above and beyond in hopes that one day I could potentially be hired,” she explains. “Although my major only required one internship, I kept going back because it was a great resume builder and I wanted to have as much experience as possible.”
Yup, the generation we sometimes (lovingly) compare to sloths are working hard to beat out the competition and attain the career they want.
Millennials are also the most highly educated generation to date (a feat not easy to conquer if they really are lazy AF), and are working harder than generations before them -- literally. In a study from ManpowerGroup, 19,000 millennials in 25 different countries were surveyed about their work lives, and findings confirmed that a large chunk of millennial workers aren't enjoying the cozy 40 hour work week generations before them were used to. Eighty-three percent of American 20-somethings reported working more than 40 hours a week, with 23 percent of them working over 50 hours a week. On top of that, 21 percent of U.S. millennials are working two or more jobs to make ends meet. Who knew?
The Myth: Millennials love whining, but don’t do anything to change the things they whine about.
The Facts: Millennials came out of the woodwork full force during the 2016 primary election, proving they’re eager to make a change at a cardinal level: by voting.
If there’s anything we got out of the 2016 primary election, it’s that 1) you don't have to be a millennial to be very, very, very self-involved, and 2) people who actually are millennials want to change the world. The New Hampshire primary kicked off with a whopping 11.2 percent of millennial voters showing up at the polls, making it the second highest youth turnout in the last 20 years.
But beyond millennials speaking up by rocking the vote, they also believe that they truly can make a difference. In a 2013 study from Telefónica where 12,000 millennials in 27 different countries were questioned on global change, 62% said they believed they could make a local difference, while 40% said they could make a global one.
The Myth: Millennials are, like, so entitled.
The Facts: Millennials are anything but privileged.
While reality shows tend to illustrate differently, millennials are poorer, more indebted, and less employed than the generation before them. Not only was the so-called “Me Generation” thrown into an economic recession, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income of young adults today is $2,000 less than their parents’ paychecks were in the 1980s. So not only do millennials work tirelessly to get a job in the first place, they thereafter struggle to make ends meet with their low-paying positions.
“I was rejected about 75 times before I got my first real job,” explains Katie, a 24-year-old marketing assistant. “It took a while until I even got my first interview with someone. But I didn’t let it get me down -- I was determined,” she explains. “I scanned through job listings every day, applied to everything I could, and interviewed in front of the mirror until I was comfortable. And then finally, a few months into my search, I was hired.”
So unless “privileged” these days means drowning tears of rejection in a dollar cup of not-artisan ramen, you’ve got the wrong idea about that 20-something dude in the artfully disheveled (JK, it’s just old) flannel.
The Myth: Millennials are the most narcissistic generation ever.
The Facts: Selfies aside, millennials are very community-based.
Sure, millennials like a good selfie with expert lighting and angling, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about anyone else around them. In fact, a 2014 study by the CIA found that millennials were more likely to value giving back to society than the generations calling them narcissistic in the first place. And when it comes to the work place, many would rather succeed as a team than singularly.
The Myth: Millennials are killing the dating scene and promoting hookup culture.
The Facts: Everyone wants love -- even 20-somethings on Bumble.
Millennials love a good swipe, but not everyone with a dating profile is looking for a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am/sir situation (not that there's anything wrong with that). According to the Pew Research Center, college-aged and post-college aged Americans are the most likely to turn to online dating -- and 46% of them know someone who met their spouse or long-term SO online. Love in the digital age is possible, no matter what Catfish (and every single person in their mid-40s) says.
The Myth: Millennials are job-hopping, unreliable employees.
The Facts: Nope.
Based on the generation’s ADD stigma, millennials have earned themselves a reputation as frequent job hoppers, but data shows it’s not specific to this generation -- it’s actually a common characteristic among young workers in general. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job tenure for 20-something Americans is almost exactly the same as it was in the 1980s, and even slightly lower than it was in the 1990s.
The Myth: Millennials have it easier than the generations before them.
The Facts: LOL.
Every generation thinks they had it the worst, but extensive data shows that millennials have a pretty good argument on their side. Recent grads from the Carter or Reagan administrations entered a booming economy that was adding between 150,000 and 250,000 jobs a month. Today’s college graduates are entering the workforce in major debt, with scarce job opportunities and disappearing industries. In January of 2016, Generation Opportunity reported that the unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds was around 8 percent, which is an epic fail compared to the 3.7 percent for those over the age of 29. Aside from that, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a loss of hundreds of thousands of middle class positions due to outsourcing and the development of new technologies, leaving job options for millennials even more limited. The U.S. Postal Service fell from over 700,000 full time employees to 487,000 between the years 2005 and 2014, while travel agencies, newspaper publishing, and mortgage brokerages also took a huge hit in terms of employment growth. And to really put a damper on things, millennials are also making less money. The median income for a 29-year-old millennial is about $35,000, an average salary lower than the previous generation. Cue the tears.
The Myth: Millennials would rather gouge their eyes out with a fork than work towards a legitimate career.
The Facts: Millennials want to work and they want a career -- badly. (They also want their eyes).
Considering the generation’s stifling student debt -- today’s recent grad carries an average of $30,000 in student loans -- millennials have no choice but to work. However, while their financial struggles give them little choice, they also want to work.
According to the U.S. Labor Force, one-in-three American workers are millennials, and by 2020, the generation will make up roughly 50% of the U.S. workforce. Research from C Space also showed that the majority of millennials prioritized a fulfilling job over one that paid more money or promised security, showing that young workers value their careers.
“I find that millennials, more than anything, want a career,” explains job counselor Eileen Sharaga. Roughly 60-65 percent of her client base is made up of millennials looking for career guidance and tips to help them market themselves, get through interviews, and build better resumes. “I help people figure out what they should be doing by helping them figure out who they are. The lazy ones aren’t going to seek me out.” True that.