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The Good, The Bad, and The Young: Letting the Younger Generations Prove Themselves in the Workplace

February 3, 2014

On Sunday, there was an article in the New York Times, which hit close to home.  As a Millenial who graduated with a Liberal Arts degree, I can sympathize with the trials young people face in the job market. We’re not only competing against each other, but also with those from older generations who were hit by the Great Recession and are thus willing to take an entry-level salary. 

Robert Goldfarb, a management consultant for corporations and the author of the aforementioned article, has noted a peculiar bias against the Millenial generation by upper management. He found that many executives are frustrated by their own anecdotal interactions with Millenials and thus transpose these on an entire generation.

For example, executives have told Goldfarb anecdotes such as “’When I was my grandson’s age, I started at the bottom and worked my way up; he’s not willing to do that.’ Or, ‘My daughter majored in philosophy, of all things — how will that get her anywhere?’” Goldfarb explains that even if they don’t have a personal experience, Gen-Yers are usually slumped into the description (the one we’ve heard repeated time and time again) of being self-absorbed and lazy. 

“The general message from these leaders is this: More young people would be hired if they had the right qualifications, but too few have the skills and discipline needed to succeed in today’s demanding workplace.”

The Millenials are often slated as the “entitled generation” but are never given the chance to prove themselves as a competent and intelligent bunch. However, most of us are ready to prove ourselves in the work environment. We may appear overeager but that’s certainly better than being apathetic, right?

According to Goldfarb it is. “Rather than waiting for educational institutions or the government to bridge this generation gap, employers should consider accepting some responsibility for introducing young people into the work force.” 

Goldfarb explains that hiring and training young people, even those with liberal arts degrees or those who never graduated college, can give employers a leg up when the economy finally rebounds.  After all, we are “a population hungry to prove its value.”


- Marcie Gainer, Executive Assistant

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