genymyths header Debunking Myths About Gen Y

By Tara Lane, Staff Writer

Over the past few years, the media has seemingly defined Gen Y into a single stereotype. While some may fit the stereotype, there are tens of millions more breaking the mold and exceeding expectations. Gen Y is 76 million members strong, full of diversity, creativity and bursting with potential.

Gen Y wants to be remembered. They’ve been through the highest highs and lowest lows on both personal and economic levels. Many are establishing themselves as leaders, influencers and role models who will be remembered for generations to come. We’re debunking some of the biggest myths of Gen Y to showcase the power and potential they truly have.

Myth: They think they’re entitled

Debunked: In this economy, it’s hard to believe that anyone would feel entitled to anything; Gen Y is no exception. There are always some exceptions to the rule, but the majority of Gen Y is out there working for what they want. In a lackluster year of employment, many grads took unglamorous, unpaid internships because they wanted the experience – not the money. More and more, young Gen Y-ers are realizing the importance of higher education, and are striving for more prestigious degrees in order to truly earn their place within their future career fields.

Myth: They only care about themselves

Debunked: “Active” is an understatement when referring to Gen Y. The growth of social media has not only connected friends, but total strangers as well. Together, Gen Y has come up with some pretty amazing ideas for social entrepreneurship and social cause, community activism, and much more. Members of Gen Y are actively engaged and constantly seeking ways to help and improve on something – anything – they can get their hands on. The Australian-based SWT Group reports that 51 percent of Gen Y-ers are involved in charity work. They have more information and resources at their fingertips than ever before, and are putting it to good use.

Myth: They don’t have meaningful relationships

Debunked: So much has been said about the increase in the use of social and digital media with Gen Y and its ability to destroy actual human relationships. Gen Y argues that it actually brings them closer. Before Facebook, texting, Twitter, and Skype, it was harder to keep up relationships through phone, e-mail and snail mail. Now, they can access their friends anytime via just about every medium possible, including video, voice and text – all for free (or nearly free). In turn, this digital media phenomenon has created a heightened interest in the world of digital media, allowing members of Gen Y to use their creativity and push the limits with digital and social media. As more and more business turn to social media for new business practices, who are the people they’re looking to hire? Gen Y, of course.

Myth: They’re not respectful

Debunked: Gen Y wants to create value and strong work that will be recognized, but it’s hard for employers to see that. In Bruce Tulgan’s book Not Everyone Gets a Trophy, the author points out that Gen Y may not be respectful if they are not respected themselves. If their higher-ups automatically assume stereotypes about them as an employee, they’re likely to treat them that way. When older generations can respect the work ethic of their younger counterparts, the issue is gone.

Myth: They can’t hold down a job

Gen Y is full of dreamers and entrepreneurs seeking to make a mark. Those that choose to go in another direction are still as free-thinking, and may become antsy for their next big break, whether it’s in the building next door or halfway around the world. The ability to work for ones’ self definitely appeals to Gen Y. They can get their work done from anywhere, and still be completely involved. Career specialists agree that although the corporate ladder of Gen Y is turning into a twisty slide, because young employees are still searching for what they want and don’t want to be held to a static position. In addition to the Internet and other technologies, Gen Y now has the ability to take their work everywhere. There isn’t much distinction between work and personal life for many, which can actually be a good thing – they’re now able to build upon skill sets that may have been undiscovered, presenting as more well rounded employees down the road.

Gen Y is a highly sought-after group by marketers and advertisers around the world. Once deemed unreachable, Gen Y is quickly proving just how easily influenced they can be – in a good way. Employers should start to re-think these stereotypes to truly understand Gen Y’s potential. It is those managers who understand Gen Y’s potential and work ethic that will gain the most value from this emerging generation.

Image by Zsuzsanna Kilián from Stock.Xchng