I have had several emails from people about the New York Times article from yesterday : The Go Nowhere Generation.
As always, the media loves to just loves to pounce on this generation by talking about their “stuck at home mentality”, their “desire to stay close to home”, their “being risk averse so they are less entrepreneurial” and that “perhaps young people are too happy at home checking Facebook“.
Okay…let’s look at this. After studying this generation for the last seven years, interviewing countless Generation Y careerists and people who have studied the demographic, here is what I have learned.
1. Generation Y did not get where they are today alone. Generation Y was raised by Baby Boomers…to do what they want, be what they want and live the American dream. The thing that Baby Boomers did not expect was for their young adults to move back home on the heels of one of the greatest recessions we have seen since the Great Depression. Many Gen Y’s will tell you they believed their parents and higher education leaders when they said “you will be able to find a top job if you enroll in our college.” Well, that bubble popped, and because Generation Y has been handled (for the most part) with kid gloves, they don’t have the business skills they need to learn how to network face to face, how to be persistent and how to work hard to get a job. Why did they not have to learn? We all did it for them. As a Baby Boomer, I apologize to this generation for making you think that you could live the great dream of employment and financial security and for not preparing you for real world problems that could result with the current financial mess we are in. As Boomers, we always held a pillow for our Gen Y kids to have a soft, secure place to fall and did not really prepare them for the real world. Instead, we called their colleges and universities to complain about professors and roommates, went on job interviews with them and then called HR to yell at them when our kids were fired. We babied a generation that can still be the strongest since the Great Depression era…the Traditionalists.
2. Generation Y has been coddled, and it’s time for the cord to be cut. MANY Baby Boomers are living the empty nest syndrome unlike they have ever before in history. My theory has to do with the constant focus on Gen Y as youngsters and the invention of the cell phone. Oh…should Gen Y be thrown out on the streets? Not literally but maybe tossed out of the nest and told to go find shelter somewhere else! This generation has been given so many opportunities, (both college grads and the ones without degrees). I have two Gen Y’s with college degrees and one who left college after 2 1/2 years. The one who left is employed full time, the other two are picking up temporary jobs and jobs to pay the bills. But, if your young adult is “happy sitting home on Facebook, not willing to leave and eating all of your food”, then maybe it’s more about Baby Boomers wanting their kids around as playmates, or you are afraid to practice tough love and tell your adult child to hit the road to Nevada or another location where work can be found. I believe it’s time to cut the cord, and say “There’s work in Nevada…you have two weeks to find a job in Nevada or somewhere else, or you’re out! You can make this happen, even if you have to work doing a low paying job in an industry that is not of your choosing” These kids are extremely innovative and can find ways to sleep on the floor of friends’ apartments, and I know of a couple of Gen Ys who say they are living out of their cars trying to find work. While this may sound just atrocious, you have to do whatever it takes to find work…end of story. And, the Fast Food industry is hiring.
3. Generation Y is extremely entrepreneurial. It is in their blood. Just because they are not moving away from home does not make them less entrepreneurial. This generation was raised on a diet of entrepreneurial thinking and a thirst for having their own business one day. But, with our economic situation as it is, that dream may not happen as it was envisioned. Many of the entrepreneurial companies that are starting up are being born in garages and basements where Gen Y lives. Just because you don’t see it yet, don’t jump to the conclusion that Generation Y is not entrepreneurial. This generation is probably a bit scared right now…they want to stay near home, because maybe they need their parents’ advice, they can’t find work, many are in debt, and they don’t know where to turn. But, parents…at the end of the day, it’s time for a bit of tough love. It’s time to draw a line in the sand, and let your young adults know that your house is not a hotel, and it’s time to find work in another state or hit the local food joints to find work. They need to pay you a monthly fee to live in your home and start building a future.
So, let’s all start taking responsibility and stop blaming Generation Y for going nowhere. They are our youngest demographic, and they need to learn the skills to get out there and make it all work. If you did not read it, I highly encourage you to read my latest post on How Entrepreneurship Can Get Gen Y Back to Work.
And…in closing…Generation Y did not cause our financial problems and unemployment, and they honestly don’t enjoy sitting at home on Facebook any more than you want them sitting on your couch and eating your food. They are bored and need to work to get excited again. So, let’s all take responsibility and get our youngest future leaders moving!