By Brian Villalba
Millennials have a tough, uphill road ahead to graduation.
If you were born from 1982-2003 then you are considered of the Millennial generation. A very common stereotype is that Millennials are lacking in dedication, ambition and are self-centered and disrespectful. Part of this may not be undeserved, but like any stereotype it does not apply to the entire generation.
This is a serious problem that college grads face, as this sentiment is common among hiring managers across industries. In the current economic climate this is just another disadvantage that graduates have. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment rates for college graduates are two through four percent higher than the national average over the last two years.
As bad as that sounds, there is good news. Many employers like the new ideas and new way of thinking a college graduate brings to the workplace. That is exactly the kind of spark that can energize any kind of business. Millennials also embrace new communication technology, which is critical to advancing the speed of business.
Employers enjoy having access to their employees through new technology. As Barack Obama was transitioning to the presidency, there was so much made about his usage of his Blackberry and email. It gave the impression that he was a team player and worked well with others.
The Millennials will embrace new technological changes to business much more easily than previous generations. The reality is that those advantages are only against previous generations, not against other Millennials.
The best news for students at East Los Angeles College is that you are in fact on a college campus and you have time to jump ahead of the learning curve. The best way to beat fellow Millennials to a job is to know the weaknesses of your generation and turn them into an advantage.
The answer is to embrace Søren Kierkegaard’s idea of authenticity. He was a 19th century philosopher who would probably be very much at home in our modern times. He saw authenticity as an individual who was courageous, honest and refused to make excuses. The authentic person also didn’t rely on groups or institutions to find meaning or purpose.
The Millennials can use this to leverage their advantages over previous generations, while contrasting themselves from their own. For some of the Millennials who rely on talking their way out of late homework or bad grades, this will require another Søren Kierkegaard idea, the leap of faith.
The Millennials have to trust in the choices that they make and be accountable for them. They must make a leap of faith that the decisions they make will work out in the end.
They must make a leap of faith that they don’t need to cheat on an exam to get into UCLA, Harvard or UC Berkeley. As Millennials are still young, it is also important to keep in mind that being an individual is not being an anti-conformist or a contrarian.
It is being inspired from what you have within, not what others tell you to do, expect you to do or what others do themselves. The Millennial college student can still take a philosophy class to help differentiate themselves from the pack. The point is not to take it because it is easy, but because it is not. If it was easy everyone would do it.
If Millennials can stay true to themselves while in the moment and be accountable for their decisions, they will not only have an advantage over most of their own generation, they will have an advantage over most people of any kind.