I’m Here! Which Way To My Office?

What happens when you take the most educated and tech-savvy generation to-date and introduce them to a mold-centric corporate world with technology stuck in the 80’s? Well, honestly, it creates a bit of unexplained friction between “millennials” and upper management. When today’s college graduate shows up to work on their first day, they’re arriving with a resume packed with accomplishments in student government, sports, Greek life, improv, acapella, community service, and maybe even a decent grade point average if they had the time. But more often than not that same go-getter, whirlwind energy that got us through college doesn’t always appear to be as well-received by our new bosses as it was by our professor of Elizabethan poetry.

     “I can download Kanye’s latest album, the Bible, and a killer recipe for quinoa tabbouleh on my phone in under a minute, but our customers can’t track their orders online? Why don’t we have an established mobile platform?”

     In the past few weeks alone I’ve seen two four year-olds operating an iPad, both within a block of my apartment. While something like that can still turn a few heads, it’s indicative of how much the average new employee’s technical skills have risen in the last decade alone. In fact it seems more likely today that one might see entry-level employees teaching their bosses Excel cheats than managers teaching recent graduates the company software.

     This gap between corporate and recreational technology reflects a generational difference that can often times come across as brashness to one party and ignorance to the other. Apart from the obvious issue that quinoa tastes like sad couscous, millennials urgent rush to hit a home run on our first day and snag a corner office before the end of our first year, can rub a seasoned manager whose spent twenty years in the trenches the wrong way. So much so that “millennial” itself is now becoming a buzzword and I haven’t met anyone yet who enjoyed being labeled as such.

     Everyone’s experiences can vary, but the differences in how our generation was taught and what skill-sets we bring to the table compared to those who have come before us are real enough. Everyone’s eager to climb to the very top. But where it was once an accepted reality to grind slowly forward up an established trail, one trekking pole at a time, our generation wants to bound up the trail, leaping from cliff to cliff, taking riskier and more frequent leaps in the hope of reaching the top sooner.

     “I’m here! Which way to my office?”                                       

     No matter what our individual backgrounds might be, we are all starting from the same place, base camp. A tense, uncertain place where we sit looking up at the mountain top, trying not to get altitude sickness and praying we don’t have to turn around and go back home. Across industries and interests there are experiences and trials that we have to face and that help us forge ahead. But sometimes it’s nice to know that there are others out there in base camp too, looking up and trying to figure out how to climb the mountain…or whether we even want to.

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