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Stephanie Reese

Stephanie Reese

December 18, 2014

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Millennials at Work

You’ve heard all of the stereotypes before: Gen-Y’ers have been studying abroad or doing volunteer work instead of getting applicable experience with typical summer jobs. They need constant feedback. They want to skip over faxing and filing and only do work that has meaning and contributes to their growth. They’d come to work in pajamas if they could.

Though you can’t change who you are or the upbringing that makes your generation’s culture unique, you can play to your strengths. Here’s how to make your Gen-Y rep work for you.

The stereotype: Gen-Y’ers lack work experience.
How to bust it: If your soft skills (leadership, management, communication, etc.) are lacking, find out if your company offers training. If not, consider taking classes to gain the skills you need, and seek out a higher-level mentor. Hint: As boomers retire, you might find yourself with added responsibility. Prepare now for the positions ahead of you.

The stereotype: Gen-Y’ers are too dependent.
How to bust it: Before going to your boss with questions like “How do I format a press release?” or ”What are our long-term business goals?”—look for the answer online first. With the countless instructional sites and databases on the Web, it’s possible to make an educated guess when you’re uncertain. At the very least, it will show you’ve taken initiative.

The stereotype: Gen-Y’ers are too informal.
How to bust it: Remember how you had to adhere to new cultural norms when you traveled abroad? You must also adapt to the work environment you’re coming into. First, respect the chain of command. Ask your boss who you should go to with a question when she’s not available, instead of going directly to your boss’ boss. Call higher-ups “Mr.” and “Ms.” until you have permission to use first names, and make sure you know your role in meetings before speaking up freely. Also, take a cue from superiors on how to dress. If you have to ask whether it’s appropriate, don’t wear it.

The stereotype: Gen-Y’ers want to run the show.
How to bust it: Establish an open dialogue with your managers regarding what you like about your job and what makes you loyal to it. Do you like working on projects with a particular leader you admire? Did you appreciate being acknowledged for a winning idea? Is interacting with a certain client rewarding because of the mission it’s tied to? If you are up-front about what’s important to you, they won’t have to guess.

There’s no doubt that Gen-Y’ers are going to make a valuable contribution to today’s businesses. And workplaces will become more flexible. Be patient, and in the meantime, make them glad they hired you.