I’m a Millennial, and despite not having a college degree, I reached the upper-echelons of Corporate America. Related: How Millennials Can Help Bridge The Workplace Generation Gap At just 28 years old, I’ve had the opportunity to work for three top firms, one of which was a Fortune 10 telecom. As a Sr. Marketing Consultant, I’ve rubbed elbows with executives and Sr. leaders. I don’t say that to brag. In fact, it’s not even something I’m proud of and it’s definitely not something that defines me. Having worked in management level positions as a Millennial in the corporate environment, I felt it necessary to share my experience of Corporate America through the eyes of my generation. My hope is that my fellow Millennials who may soon be entering the corporate world find value from understanding what they’re in store for. The corporate gig sounds like the kind of stuff dreams are made of. It’s what you go to college for and rack up tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt. I was able to bypass student loans and college altogether as I understood at 18 years old that college wasn’t going to properly prepare me for a job or give me the skills necessary to be competitive in my field. So, I went to college for one year, made the dean’s list and dropped out at the end of my spring semester. I taught myself the skills I needed to learn to survive and thrive in my field. Having been in Corporate America as a Millennial for over five years, my perspective is as follows: Our elders aren’t ready or willing to accept us - They see us as threats, and instead of working with us as suitable team members, they typically choose to “keep us in our place” by giving us low-level admin work that they know (and we know) is well below our abilities. This is an effective way for them to ensure we don’t outshine them. We’re overworked and underpaid - Many mid-level managers see Millennials as the generation that never sleeps. We’re “always on,” both literally and figuratively. They use this to their advantage by forcing us to work longer hours than our older counter-parts. It’s not uncommon to be a Millennial and see your older co-worker walk out the door early every day because he/she has kids to pick up from school. What happened to riding the school bus? What happens with the workload that’s still left to be done? They hand it to the Millennial. We’re indentured servants - Just like the share croppers who were former slaves on the plantations of the Old South, Millennials are indentured servants to Corporate America. It’s rare in this day and age to actually find a white collar job that doesn’t require you to contract for a year or two or longer. Many employers claim to have a salaried job waiting for you after you “prove yourself,” only to find that they end up giving you a pink slip. Corporations have become greedier today than ever before so by growing a contract culture, they save millions on employment taxes, health insurance and vacation days. So, what’s the end-game and what are Millennials supposed to do? Millennials weren’t cut out to be cubicle dwellers. We are far too weird, out-spoken, beliefs-driven, passionate and fast paced. The corporate machine hates these traits, as it only has respect for those who fall in line. Don’t get me wrong, correlation does not prove causation. Just because there’s a strong correlation of character traits that don’t fit well within the confines of Corporate America, that doesn’t mean that Millennials should avoid an entire sector of employment. However, it’s important that Millennials know what they’re getting themselves into. Just look around and you’ll find someone you directly know or a friend of a friend who entered the corporate world, got burnt out after a half decade, left and built a business. That is where the future is at and that is how Millennial’s need to frame their perspective and purpose of a job. Statistics indicate that your average employee only remains employed at the same job for 2 – 3 years. That being said, if you continue down a path of employment, you will constantly be faced with ups and downs and instability. The corporate gig should be used as a training ground to gain leadership skills and work experience, with the end game being to branch out and start your own enterprise. Corporate America was built for our parents, not for us, so tread lightly and know what you’re getting yourself into.
November 03, 2014