I waited anxiously on the opposite side of the phone and, coincidently, the opposite side of the country as a woman who was holding a piece of my future in her hand dropped the bomb: “This is a really complicated program, and there just isn’t room for an intern. I can tell you have a lot of drive and will do great things.” What she didn’t have to add was those great things just will not be here.
I hung up after taking down her information with plans to contact her again, her superior, and then her superior’s superior to see if there was someone who would listen to me and hear the truth in what I was speaking. I was offering to work- for free- for this company, to give up my entire summer, and to pioneer an innovative internship program (they didn’t have one) for the corporation’s charity platform that would bring awareness to their cause and ultimately increase business and revenue. I had a list of objectives that I knew I could accomplish in a summer, a strong knowledge of the program and company (I had worked at the corporation for almost two years) and had worked my way up the bureaucratic corporate ladder to find the right person to speak to, all of my own volition.
Still, after a mere 10 minutes on the phone I was shut down. It wasn’t because of my GPA, because of my qualifications, or even because of my lack of connections, so what was it? While I am not suggesting that it was because I am a millennial, I am saying that there is little to no reason to not let a young, passionate 20-something who says she wants to help you increase revenue and better your program work for you, for free, for an entire summer. I am saying that businesses who aren’t welcoming to millennials are MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE. Businesses: put in the extra work, create the internship, and take the risk- it may pay off in ways you never imagined.
I am a go-getter. I am driven, focused, communicative and willing to work hard for what I want. These are all antitheses to the stereotypes lobbed at my generation, the dreaded “millennials,” who roll their eyes at the idea of anything that doesn’t involve their iPhones, their Instagram, their Facebook, and their immediate gratification. I am not alone, either. In fact, I would argue that the majority of my peers, my comrades, and even my acquaintances do not fit the stigmatized opinion forced upon us by those who are either jaded by a bad past experience or are too- dare I say it- lazy to look for the hard-working, humble, ambitious millennials that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, while make up 50% of the workforce by 2020.
If we are the people that are going to work for you and, quite possibly, one day be your boss, then why are companies like the one I interacted with hesitant to welcome us with internships and entry-level positions? Maybe because one bad apple ruins the whole barrel, and millennials that live up to the name- lazy, entitled, unwilling to fetch coffee, start at the bottom, or work hard- are the only ones these companies encounter. That being said, those of us who live outside of the stereotype are increasingly showing companies that will let us just why we are such an asset.
According to a study done by The University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, millennials are a gain- not a burden- to your company. For one, millennials (those born between 1976 and 2001, for the purposes of this survey) are global- thinkers. In fact, 71% said that they would like to live abroad. In addition, they are eager to advance and grow within a company. 65% said that “the opportunity for personal development was the most influential factor in their current job” and 52% says “opportunities for career progression made an employer attractive.”
Millennials can bring a fresh perspective to your company. They can bring innovative ideas about marketing, about investing, about communication, and about expanding and reaching your demographic. We are the next generation of politicians, of businesspeople, of musicians and artists, of humanitarians and philanthropists and of entrepreneurs and CEOS and you do not want to miss an opportunity for us to fall in love with your company.
There is a tone of bitterness to this article. It’s a classic case of rejection: I was turned down by a company that I thought I could really benefit. That being said, this is greater than me. This is a plea to businesses to hire millennials, to give them a chance, and to be surprised. This article also serves as a warning, because if you don’t hire us- or at least employ us for an internship- we will take a lesson from our millennial playbook and move on, because our “entitlement”– let’s rephrase that, confidence has led us to believe that we have something to offer.