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Millennial Engagement: Building a New Roadmap to Success

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etouches is the proud sponsor of Event Alley Show, a free internet radio show produced by event industry experts Liz King and Lindsey Rosenthal. Airing weekly on Tuesdays at 1 PM EST, Liz and Lindsey interview event industry leaders as well as subject matter authorities on the latest trends and tools. Last Tuesday’s program centered on Millennials. I listened and called in.

Curst Steinhorst, Speaker at the Center for Generational Kinetics and George G. Fenich, PhD, Professor at East Carolina University gave insights on creating engaging content for the millennial generation. Curt explained that a reputation of entitlement sets Millennials apart from other generations. With huge professional goals and aspirations, Millennials have adopted a mindset of deserving positions for which they are not qualified. Wow, this really struck a chord! I called-in and asked what Millenials should do professionally to be viewed as motivated rather than entitled. Curt explained that Millennials need to set a goal, then, work backwards from there, instead of jumping ahead to the senior position. This advice strongly resonated with me.

The day I left for college, my father ingrained a principle into my mind. “Go to class and do the work,” he said. “It’s as easy as that.” So, I did. I thought I knew the roadmap to success. Growing up as a Millennial, I was told that if you work hard, you yield results, i.e. a job upon graduation. So I worked hard: spent countless hours studying for exams, applied for internships (albeit unpaid) and before I knew it, was searching for my first job. Upon graduation, I entered one of the toughest economic climates in history, competing for a small number of entry-level positions. My roadmap to success wasn’t exactly a straight line, not only for me, but, for other Millennials as well. One-third of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed. A job upon graduation is no longer a guarantee. Furthermore, the rate of college graduates filing for bankruptcy increased 20% over the past two years.

As the most educated generation in history, we feel our efforts should bear fruit. Yet, we’re frustrated and disappointed that, somehow, we let ourselves down as well as our families because we struggle to land our first jobs. A characteristic of our generation that I think goes unnoticed is the ability to capitalize on opportunities. We’re eager to get ahead in the face of uncertainty. We work internships in fields we know nothing about. We make risky career moves—going with our gut and working hard to make it pay off. We’re searching for places where we feel valued, challenged and included. I can tell you I don’t feel entitled.

Entitled or not, I’m motivated and ambitious. I want the same success as my parents, grandparents, professors and mentors. I have dreams. Big ones. Can you truly criticize Millennials’ ambitions when our grandparents grew up fueled by the American dream?

To all the Millennials out there. I think Curt’s backtracking suggestion is a good one; plan the steps to get where you ultimately want to be. Channel your ambition and build a new roadmap to success. Use the entitlement label to motivate you. Don’t give-in to the criticism. We want the next generation’s burden to be lighter. We want technological advances to continue. We want the market to improve. Just like the generations before us.

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