Millennials, Millennials in the workplace,
WORKPLACE SUCCESS / 14 December 2016
From MySpace to the Workplace: a Guide to the Expectations of Millennials
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Jasmine Barr
Branding Intern
Des Moines, IA

Have you ever started a new internship or job only to find out it’s just not what you expected? Like yeah, you’re given projects but they just lackluster or maybe you simply filed some papers and went home. How did that feel, not so great right? Honestly, why should it feel anything less? This was supposed to be the stepping stone to the next great opportunity that presents itself, but how can you be ready if what you’re doing isn’t helping you grow? 

Ok, hostile feelings aside. What are the things we millennials want our current, previous, and future employers to know? 

1. Respect me, Dang it! 

We get it, you have to give respect to get respect, treat others how you want to be treated, and all that jazz. What we’re talking about here is a mutual understanding of if I do work for the company, and do it well, then I will be rewarded. The rewards don’t have to be anything fancy, something along the lines of being trusted with a more challenging workload or being asked to sit in on an important meeting to see how operations truly run at the company. Another form of respect that can be given towards us is understanding that as interns, we’re also students and we need flexibility. Yes, I understand that’s a tad contradictory to one of my earlier statements but it needs to be said. School is different than it used to be; sometimes it feels for the better and other times for the worse. We have rigorous courses which means we have to constantly be studying, are expected to be in many organizations (where we’re supposed to hold at least two executive positions to prove our leadership capabilities), and socialize with others on a leisurely basis regularly. From experience, it is possible to live a lifestyle where we do all these things, but please allow us a little time to figure out the balance that is needed to be able to perform well in our new position and on campus. Depending on how long we’re in the office each day, two-three weeks should be the sweet spot for us to begin understanding the nuances of what this new structure entails. 

Along that note, please be understanding that along with our rigorous course work comes many tests and group projects with other students whose schedules literally never match up together save for a few moments of slight eye contact passing across the quad, if we’re lucky, so please, please be more open minded about allowing extensions to deadlines if there is room for leeway because it’s not that we weren’t working on it and are looking for an excuse to get more time. It is that we are students first and our school work turned out to be more demanding of our time than anticipated and we were not able to get the progress we were hoping to on our project for work. 

The final form of respect that can be shown towards millennials is not overlooking us due to our age. Sure everyone learns about the ins and outs of their industry eventually but why not help us be ahead of the curve by choosing us to help with a few side projects in addition to our assigned projects or take us out for coffee and have insightful discussions? I’m not encouraging you to give millennials work because you can or to constantly buy us things; I’m suggesting that you guide us to reach our greater potential by giving us work you’re confident we are ready to take on and picking our brains to see how knowledgeable we truly are about various topics going on in the industry. 

2. I’m Young, not Incompetent 

Malkan Pilipovic, a student at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa says what many of us feel perfectly, “I hate standing around or sitting around. I’d rather not be paid and go home early. I tend to work fast and boredom happens sometimes because I run out of things to do. And then when I try to take the initiative I’m told I don’t need to because it’s something that is done on a specific day or by a specific person.” We want more work, honest; that work just also has to be meaningful, because as you know, we millennials always have to have a cause and be inspired. What we don’t have in experience we make up for in personality and enthusiasm for the work we’re doing. Right out of the gate we’re happy to work here and want to do well but after a while, the work seems like it’s stagnating and we look forward to work less and less. Keep us engaged! Increase the difficulty of projects throughout the duration of our time at the company, it’s ok. 

3. Give me more work that’s Productive, Please!

No one likes to be bored, not even if they’re getting paid. It’s always nice to know that the projects we’re completing are having an impact, whether it’s within the company or out in the community through our clients and customers. Knowing that our work means something is a tremendous motivator; and what yields better results than motivation. 

4. Recognition and Opportunities

So you know how older generations think that we over value validation and think of us as the beginning of the everybody-gets-a-ribbon generation? Well, they’re not wrong, but we view validation as a guiding tool; validation is a form of feedback to us. Though we don’t always need a participation ribbon, we do need to know that we’re doing well so that we can learn what we need to improve on. By being recognized for what we do well, we feel more included in the company which makes us feel more comfortable in our position. Some baby boomers may still be thinking, “But why do you need to be recognized? Just do the work and collect your paycheck.” We still need to be recognized because that’s how opportunities begin to present themselves. When our employers take considerable notice in our work and achievements, it opens a door to have discussions about steps we can take to further grow in our careers such as being offered to job shadow someone holding the full-time position we desire to have in the coming years. Other opportunities we crave to experience include an increase in events where we could work with employees in higher positions than we are used to speaking with regularly. Instead of simply reporting to the head of our department or intern program, we would love the chance to collaborate with other members of the company to complete a goal. Being granted the ability to attend affairs for the company that involves traveling to other states or cities would be incredible for us; honestly, it’s like the holy grail. It would give us a chance to expand our networks outside of our college towns and expose us to even more opportunities and new experiences; making us overall better human beings. 

5. Office Culture

Office culture is one of the top company characteristics millennials look at when deciding where they will try to work after graduation and for internships. All of the points listed above are all perfect examples of what goes into cultivating an office culture millennials would want to flock towards. Therefore, going forward, you should consider these points when examining your current office culture and when coming up with an outline for enticing millennials to your company and getting them to stay; I also recommend taking a look at the following articles by Forbes,, and TinyPulse to learn more about what makes millennials tick and what office cultures they respond the best.Ok fellow millennials, so we’ve listed our expectations, now what? How do you go forth and conquer if your current employment situation lacks luster? Simple solution, talk with your boss! Sounds a bit awkward I know but only if not handled with grace and tact. According to an article on how to voice your concerns, it suggests: 

1. Time your concerns appropriately

2. Be specific

3. Be objective, and lose your emotional attachments

4. Come with solutions

5. Focus on the positives 

6. Get support if necessary 

By following these six steps, you can: arrange a great meeting time where you can sit down and talk without interruption. You’re able to go into detail about why you’re not feeling comfortable with your position and explain why these unmet expectations matter to the growth of the company as a whole and your personal growth, but keep this part professional, try your hardest not to be overly emotional when talking about yourself. Bring up the expectations from above that you have identified as the “missing link” and see what can be done to remedy the situation. By focusing on being positive, you’re creating an optimistic atmosphere that encourages your boss to keep an open mind about what can be done. If you feel it’s necessary to the situation, bring along other interns and co-workers who started at the company the same time as you who have similar feelings to show that you’re not the only millennial who feels this way within the company. 

Go forth and conquer my fellow millennials; don’t ever lose your edge. For more tips on how to stay ahead of the curve check out other ProSky articles; they have everything from tips on career advice to social media. Make it a priority to make yourself a priority and see what ProSky has to offer to help you: learn skills, do projects, and get hired