Ditch the Stereotypes

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By Julia Barrett

I’m what you would consider a “newbie” in the professional world.

I am a recent college grad who was extremely fortunate to be hired by a kick-ass compan

y after they gave me the opportunity to intern with them my senior year of undergrad (thank you Coolfront Technologies for eliminating the process of job searching).

With that being said, let me start off with an important announcement. I have always thought that I was a millennial until the day my HR Manager called me into her office (intimidating to begin with), crushing my dreams and broke the news that I have been living life wrong and am considered to be a Gen Z’er (still not over it - thanks Courtney).

But when I thought I was a millennial, I became very familiar with stereotypes about millennials at work. Lazy, entitled, narcissist, impatient. Of course, I was offended because these adjectives didn’t fit my personality when I was in a professional setting but according to Google, they did.  

Then when I found out I was a Gen Z’er, obviously I had to look up stereotypes about Generation Z. Some that came up: crowdsourcing, digital natives, greater-good, freedom.  

Crowdsourcing? Sure, I do look to Google for a lot. Digital Native? Maybe, I had a Nokia cellphone in the 4th grade. Greater-good? Yes, I am all about giving back when I can. Freedom? Who wouldn’t want to work from Starbucks? That one may be a bit of a stretch, but I bet if you asked a Gen X’er if they would like to have one day a week where they could do work from anywhere they would say absolutely.

There has also been a lot of talk, articles, blogs, tweets around keeping a millennial or a Gen Z’er engaged at work. What I’m about to say could be argued and is by no means fact, it is all based on my personal opinion.

Forget what you’ve heard, forget what you’ve read, forget the stereotypes about young people at work. Yes Gen Z is known to be digital natives, but there is a millennial in my graduate class who was taught to read on a computer by her parents - so wouldn’t she then be considered a digital native?

Some people say they are considered a Millennial but see themselves and would rather classify as a Gen X’er.

Keeping an employee engaged and committed to their job role all comes down to how, as an employer and company, you are able to make that possible.

Perfect example: I was not informed on the HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing fields. I had no idea about the busy and slow seasons for technicians or how expensive it can be to get something in your house fixed (which seems pretty pricy, and I’m glad I’m renting right now). But since being employed at Coolfront Technologies I have come to truly love what I do and who I market to, all because of my company.

At the end of the day, employees want to be valued, appreciated, rewarded, and given responsibility regardless of what generation they classify under.

Wanna keep a millennial or Gen Z’er engaged and committed to your company? Offer security (yes, 22 year olds think about insurance coverage), freedom (some days I want to do my work from a Starbucks), flexibility (I don’t know a lot of people who would pass up an opportunity to play nine holes of golf at noon on a Friday) and lastly, accountability. I may be given freedom, but I want to be held accountable for meeting project deadlines.

Times really are changing and we are moving in a direction where technology will become a large area of everyone’s life, not just millennials and Gen Z’ers and the generations after. So as an employer, it is important to establish how you want to keep any employee engaged and committed to their position, regardless of their generation title.

Like I said earlier, this is my own personal opinion and by no means right or wrong. But as someone who is currently struggling with somewhat of an “identity crisis” I leave you with, I love my 40 hour a week, 8 to 5 job because I am able to learn and grow and become who I am, all thanks to my employer.

Stereotypes are a funny word. A word I actually kind of hate. I think the real definition is, “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.”

Every person is different, with different work ethics and different goals. Find someone who fits your company values and learn how their personal goals can contribute to your overall company goals.

Ditch the stereotypes.


Find another blog concerning millennials here.


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