I was born in 1985. I’m a 20-something. A Millennial. A Gen-Yer. And I have a career.
It’s not just a job that I do because it pays my bills. It’s not some fun hobby that I’m hoping will make money someday. No matter what you hear on Girls, not every young writer is sitting around with a 10-page manuscript assuming they’ll write the great American novel. Someday. Not every 20-something with a business degree is serving mocha frappes at the local coffee shop. Oh and we aren’t all personal assistants that get paid minimum wage to be treated like crap by high-powered bosses.
There’s nothing wrong with any of those things. Some recent graduates are baristas or interns.
But some of us are professionals and entrepreneurs. We’re writers and sales associates and teachers. And to be honest, some of us are really sick of the Gen-Y narrative that gets thrown around about lazy, entitled “emerging adults” who depend on their parents’ support and don’t understand the real world of employment.
Last week, Jenna Goudreau wrote a post for ForbesWoman called, “Why We Need To Take 20-Somethings Seriously.” You would think that the article focused on important contributions made by young people in the business world. You would be wrong. The post was actually about the importance of your 20s when it comes to establishing yourself and your career, Goudreau just wanted people to start pushing those lazy Gen-Yers more.”
There were some great responses around the internet from young people who are trying their hardest to establish their career during the worst recession any of us have ever seen. Emily Sicard from The Daily Muse was particularly thoughtful and inspiring. She spoke from the perspective of those part-time retail workers or interns who are working their butts off to have someone “take them seriously.”
But missing from the discussion seems to be the other end of the Millennial spectrum. What about professionals like me, who have worked for multiple companies, who pay their own bills without anyone’s help? Believe it or not we exist. And I have to admit that the general story of my generation seems to ignore our existence. Even worse, it makes it that much harder for us to be taken seriously.
When I brought up my frustration to another writer on the east coast, her agreement was immediate. As a young woman about the same age as me, she has seen this stereotype of our generation affect the way she’s treated at work. She explained,
“I definitely feel like some bosses believe they’re doing Millenials a huge favor by giving them grown-up jobs. It’s almost as if we’re supposed to earn it even after we’ve gotten hired. I resent the notion that I must suffer immensely to earn my keep. I understand that I’m lucky to be on a career track so soon after college, but am growing tired of ‘proving myself.’ And people wonder why so many women are burning out before 30! Sometimes I envy my waitress friends. They’re making more money than I am and constantly interacting with people whereas I have to put on a professional front at all times.”