I invited my 21 year old niece out to dinner last week – I usually get together with her from time to time to get clarity on the culture and experiences of her generation (generation “Y” or the Millennial generation as they are called – children born in the early 1980s to early 2000s).
Unbeknownst to her, I had been doing this since she was 18.
I figured, since a lot of our work force was made up of this generation, she was the perfect mouthpiece for information on learning a thing or two about their mental processing.
We usually start with pleasantries before exploring topics like authority, commitment and global politics or what ever catches our fancy that day.
My last discussion with her was on her career path. She was currently attending a course in linguistics with the intention of pursuing her masters in International Relations and Business – she wanted to try for a job at the UN eventually.
In truth, I had similar aspirations as a young under-grad. My dream was to work at the UN and travel the WORLD (until life happened and reality bit)- so when I heard of her similar goals, I clung to them like a hound with a scent and tried to relive my youth through this niece of mine.
However, at dinner that evening, she confided that she now wanted to pursue an aviation career and become a pilot!
I almost choked on my cocktail!
That to me was completely random (not to talk of ludicrous), my dream was falling apart a second time! Not to make a similar past mistake of voicing disapproval and risk shutting down my information source, I quickly put on my poker face and gently enquired further.
What brought about this change of heart? What would happen to “OUR” dream?
She simply stated that she had come to understand herself better and recognized that her free spirit which pushed her towards an international career was even more radical than she thought and thrived in escapism. She said she would struggle with sitting behind a desk of administration. She wanted to share that sense of escapism with others but in her world, she wanted to be the transporter and not the transported.
I asked how her parents took the news and she replied that they were supportive!
Though somewhat disappointed, I was once again silently grateful that she had opened up to me about her plans.
I hadn’t given up hope yet- time was still a luxury she had to toy with. She may still come back to course (fingers crossed).
But our discussion that night reaffirmed my impression of the Millennials- they are a generation who feel there are no limits or boundaries to life or any part of its elements.
They are lucky to be born and bred in a world packed with technological intelligence and have the privilege to have the entire world at their fingertips!
A world where creativity is the currency and information is freely given, taken and shared.
The Millennials to me are easily bored with regimented structure, they crave the freedom to express themselves. They are a generation (in my opinion) that does not necessarily honour tradition but tolerates it.
My experience with working with Millennials is to give them a perimeter of guidelines and watch them knock themselves out with ingenuity.
Micro management in my opinion might be considered as stifling.
Truth be told, I’ve bumped heads with many a Millennial but that was before my informative dinners. Nowadays I apply knowledge before principle.
Whatever the case, I find the millennial generation a very refreshing bunch and am amazed daily at the impact they make on our world.
I’ll confide, I secretly envy their dominance of liberty and totally embrace their creed.
So “Here’s looking at you, kid”…….