Is the Millennial Attitude a Myth?

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In the early summer months of 2015, a horde of freshly degreed hopefuls will be joining the workforce. As the promise of our nation takes their first steps into the world, we wonder what paths they’ll set upon. Adecco conducted the annual Way To Work survey of over 1,000 college students to attempt to uncover how Gen Y and Gen Z feel about the future. The myths surrounding Gen Y and Gen Z are similar; both evoke images of disinterested rebels with unrealistic expectations of the days ahead. The Adecco survey results tell a different story. It appears that student’s attitudes about their careers and the future are shockingly sensible.

The ability to find a job is the top concern for 32 percent of respondents. Given that many of the respondents will be in college for at least another year, I’d say those numbers paint a pretty practical picture. That pragmatism translates to the way college students approach the job hunt. When asked to choose words that best describe their job search, students most often chose Determined and Optimistic. Words like Indifferent, Skeptical, and Defeated were used by less than 10 percent of respondents. Not bad for a generation working against perceptions of laziness and apathy.

While most of the results show a realism that is uncharacteristic of “the young”, some reveal a little naiveté. In the face of an improving economy, 42 percent of respondents anticipate finding a job in less than three months while 79 percent anticipate finding one in less than five. For the ‘Now’ generation who can have nearly anything they want with the click of a button and a credit card, 90 days might actually seem like a lifetime. However, many staffing experts realize that finding the right job may take longer than mere months.

The unfortunate truth is that many recent graduates no longer have to worry about unemployment, but underemployment. Some of our nation’s leading economists fear that the plummeting unemployment rate actually reflects a nationwide epidemic of settling. More people are no longer actively seeking jobs or take part-time jobs to generate income. Undoubtedly, the underemployment problem disproportionately affects new grads, who may lack the experience that organizations are looking for. Given that the greatest aspiration of 69 percent of respondents is financial stability and landing the dream job for 62 percent, it appears that expectations are not aligned with reality.

The truth is that the survey results are as they should be for any group of people with their career ahead of them. New grads have a positive outlook, a healthy fear of the unknown and some fanciful naiveté about what it will take to land the dream job.

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