“I remember when I was 8 years old the history book finished with men going to the moon, all the 21 century scientific discoveries and with a lot of optimism about all the good things humankind was supposed to be doing in 2000. History was becoming science and technology. In general, even when I was a child in the early 90’s, I felt that everything was too slow and I was looking forward to the invention of fast technologies. I didn’t know that I was part of a precise category, but I definitely belong to the millennial generation.” Marzia (28 years old).
Who are millennials?
Demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as the starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as the ending birth years. Millennials are sometimes referred to as “echo boomers” because of a major increase in birth rates in the 1980s and 1990s. ‘Generation Z’ (those born after the year 2000) has very different characteristics.
They are distinguished from millennials (Y) – young people born between the 80s and 2000, representing the last generation of the twentieth century. They also come after Generation X – those born between 1960 and 1980.
For millennials, especially people born in the early 80s, sometimes it is really difficult to define themselves as part of this group as they feel different to past generations in several aspects. Luigi (27 years old), “ I like to be connected with other people and I use social media, but I am not really dependent on them. We are not born with a phone in our hand. I think we are different from the generation called Z. I was astonished, when my 2 year old niece,whilst looking at the newspaper, tried to touch the pictures like she was interacting with a tablet.”
Then if we consider the people born in the 80’s are they so distant from people born, for example, in 1979?
Camilla (39 years old, so not a millennial), “Marta, even my generation used to look for a job using the internet not a newspaper!”.
According to a recent survey, Millennials want different things from life and work. In the past, many had the prospect of a safe job and it was forever. Now there is a growing awareness that everything is subject to change at the speed of a click. What we are looking for today is the possibility of growth. It is assumed that life is made of moments that we must grasp, renouncing security and stability. Berta, a 73-year-old secretary, used to look for a job using the newspaper listings and manually took her typewritten documents into companies where she hoped that there would a job. Training? “Nothing!You could learn on your own and if you were lucky you could ask your colleagues. I remember the first time in 1990 I found myself in front of a PC, I was afraid it would light up on its own and I would not know how to handle it.”
Francesca, a 69 year old doctor, already knew what she wanted to do and that was the job she wanted to do until retirement.
Instead, what do a millennials expect from the job?
They don’t look for a high salary but something interesting and related to what they have studied. Something that gives them the opportunity to grow and opens up more possibilities. Remuneration levels are initially low and they have to prove themselves much more than before. Many students leave college and jobs to go traveling. This lifestyle has replaced the old style pattern of finding a stable, lifelong job and getting married. Traveling and seeing the world is now viewed as essential.
“When I was at university studying philosophy my teacher used to say about our approach toward work – your generation has to be like the frogs, constantly jumping around if you want to survive”.Marta (29 years old)
Jenny Schlund, 27 years old, agreed to answer to some questions:
“When I think about millennials, I consider people younger than me. They are really technological, and tech savvy. They are constantly on the internet, posting about their lives. I guess they think if they are not posting, they don’t exist.”
Have you ever tried to find a job in a newspaper? “Never.”
What are you looking for in a job? “The leadership culture, management strategy , and a good employee culture. Before considering a company I check on Glassdoor, but I confirm what I have read by speaking with people already working there,as some opinions could be biased .”
So in the end “the offline” human opinion is still important, even for millennials that love to share every emotion and moment of their lives, using social media in real time.
Millennials are happy to try new ways of working. They don’t expect to finish working at 65 years old, but at the same time don’t think that they will continue to do the same job forever. They are like frogs, ready to jump, accepting and facing all the challenges they are going to meet in their path.