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Generation Y: what we want out of our careers and workplaces

Updated on October 4, 2015

Generation Y, also known as Millenials, we people about 70 billion strong, us born between roughly the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, we have a different philosophy about work. According to Dr. Randall S. Hansen, the founder of Quintessential Careers, some people see that the younger generation has “poor work ethic”, are “spoiled” and “lazy”. Stephanie Armour puts it that millenials “don’t expect to stay in a job, or even a career, for too long... ‘they’re skeptical when it comes to such concepts as employee loyalty’” Perhaps I also would be seen as just a stereotype to the rest of the members in my age group by writing this, but as I researched for writing this article, I realized that maybe some of the reasons I left my past workplaces weren’t so crazy after all.

What Generation Y seeks for in a career


This might be a bit bias since as hubbers on Hubpages I’m sure we want to feel in tune with our artistic side as writers, but the millenials we like being able to show creative expression in our line of work. I don’t mean just in an artistic or performing arts sort of way, but we like it for example, if a supervisor came to us with a problem: how can the company market their product to younger audiences? and told us to come up with a solution, we’d get on it right away, offering ideas like become active on social media sites or hire a college student to be their campus representative who can spread their name out. We love the opportunity to rack our brains, come up with innovative ideas, knowing that our opinions matter to the company and that we’re making a difference.

This idea goes beyond just a task, it influences what we would like to wear to work. The average work schedule composes of working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, which is a lot of time devoted to the job. If work is going to take up so much of our life, we want to be able to express our lives at work. How we decide to dress is one aspect of our personal expression. Having been “taught the value of individuality and independent thinking” we don’t want our careers to shape who we are as well as many of us “prefer a work environment where [we] can wear comfortable clothing that expresses [our] individuality. So say hello to jeans and chucks.


That being said, as children who grew up with internet, TV and Youtube, unless there’s something to engage our attention, we tend to get bored easier than others. We additionally grew up with having to juggle multiple responsibilities such as school, piano lessons, band practice and part time jobs. We naturally multitask “juggling email on their BlackBerries while talking on cellphones” and this upbringing sometimes shows up in the workplace when we start listening to iPods while filing or checking our Facebooks when the workflow is slow. As entry-level jobs, I can see that sometimes repetitive work cannot be avoided but ideally, it should be kept to a minimum. Either that or make it into a project that can be engaging for us, such as working in a team to finish that big sorting-the-archives project.

Six types of motivation

Supportive colleagues

Hansen points out people in our generation ' view having strong friendships with co- workers and bosses as extremely important to them. There is much anecdotal support of workers staying longer in jobs simply because they love the people they worked with'. Penelope Trunk mentions that Boston-based company Gentle Giant Moving once hired an entire athletic team because the members thought it was a ‘great work environment...It was huge [for the members] to be able to work with friends.’

While that is such a unique situation that it made me laugh, we won’t ask our colleagues to be our best friend, but we like to work with people who seem to care about us more than just ‘that’s our Marketing Coordinator’. They are curious about what are our goals in life, how we ended up becoming their colleagues, why we are the way we are. An advice when it comes to managing employees and criticism: absolutely no nagging! It’s not that we can’t follow directions, it’s just easy to lose respect for supervisors who supervise us in a way that reminds us of our parents. We don’t need to deal with shizzle like that at work. Constructive criticism is muy importante.


Now, I don’t mean this in a gold digger sort of way or that many of us think that more money equals more happiness but with more and more of us graduating out of college ( some of us with debt), we would like our starting salaries to be able to cover food, rent, any debts we owe and manage to have some money left over, without having to move back home. According to Catherine Rampell, half of all recent university graduates have stated that their first postgrad jobs did not require a college degree as well as the median salary for students who graduated between 2009-2010 was $27,000.

I feel them! This scares me a bit..

Contributing Back

Going back to that idea where if we are going to be spending so much of our life at work, we want to dedicate it toward a cause that we believe in. The thing I find attractive about an artistic career is that we can use media to shape how people think, provoke social change or infuse creativity in others. As Hansen points out millenials “[seek] greater fulfillment” from our/their careers “and are only willing to work hard at jobs that provide it”. I imagine it’s rewarding for the artist to be able to hear that someone became inspired by their music or that people became encouraged by the message in the author’s books. Hansen also writes that millenials are more dedicated to volunteering than previous generations.

When Deloitte realized that their consulting firm had a high turnover rate with their youngest employees, they did research to find out what retains them to a job. They discovered that one of the things that encourages younger employees to stay with a company is if the company provided volunteer opportunities.It’s the “search for meaning” that makes this/our generation want to ‘take the skills [they] learned…and give back to the community’

One of my lifelong learning goals..getting better at photoshop!
One of my lifelong learning goals..getting better at photoshop! | Source

Lifelong Learning

In addition to an artsy career, I find jobs that involve researching very rewarding because I love knowing that I’m learning something new. I like feeling that sense of progress, that what I learn today will give me the knowledge to overcome the next problem, the problem after that, and then the obstacles that come after those hurdles. If I were to become an expert in a field, it would be awesome to think that perhaps what I find out today will be useful to someone in the future who will use my discoveries as a foundation to build even greater things. To me, lifelong learning is another leaf on the same branch as contributing back. While other generation Y-ers might not feel the same about research, Hansen points out that individuals in this generation expect work challenging jobs from day one and they prefer to work with employers who would “guide younger workers through a steady progression in the organization.”

The good thing about being Gen Y

I feel that with the list that I just wrote it might give some potential employers a headache, that we’re just too high maintenance to deal with, but there are things that Generation Y excels at that is worth considering. For instance, the most noticeable one might be that us Millenials are tech-savvy. Not all of us understand HTML or Photoshop but many can operate a computer and basic software. Additionally while on the job, working on teams is one method we might come up with to finish a task faster. Contrary to what some might perceive wanting help as a sign for being ‘lazy’, teamworking allows us to motivate each other as well as inspire ideas that we may never have come up with on our own. But most significantly, teamworking makes us feels important, that our individual work is going to be recognized based on the overall team’s performance. We can also use competition with each other to drive us to work faster. But perhaps the thing that sets this generation apart from previous generations is its entrepreneurial spirit. Rebecca Walker has expressed that according from data gathered by the Kaufman Foundation, for 2012 about 30% of all startups were started by 20-34 year olds. Bleak outlooks in the post graduation job market combined with having control over their own destinies in addition to believing in a philosophy that their work time is only worth spending on causes that feel closest to our hearts, could possibly be what drives more youngsters nowadays to become their own boss.

Generation Y: what we want out of our careers and workplaces by StellaSee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


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    • StellaSee profile image

      StellaSee 5 years ago from California

      Hi Deborah, I think its funny how my friends and I can agree on some of the ideas I wrote on here, but if I show it to say, my mum, she looks at me like I'm crazy. I can work but I don't think I can make a 'career' out of a job only for the sake of money. Thanks for stopping by!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      Generational differences make for some interesting dynamics in the workplace. Human resources professionals are trying to figure all of this out. This hub provides many useful insights.

    • StellaSee profile image

      StellaSee 5 years ago from California

      Hi Alecia, oh man I feel you. I think it's hard to find a career that suits your interests/passions AND be able to provide you enough income to make a living. It tends to be either one or the other (or so my friends and I are starting to think ..but I'm still hoping we could prove it wrong!) Thanks for reading and good luck with achieving your career goals too~

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      This is a great hub! Due to the economy my job situation is not quite where I'd like it to be but I have hope that I can find an environment that suits my interests.

      As a Gen Y member, I think there is an advantage to growing up with computers and the internet in that we don't have to be trained on the basics. However, it is hard for us to remain focused and goal oriented. I'm just getting started but in the long run I do want a lifelong career that is fulfilling and rewarding.

    • StellaSee profile image

      StellaSee 5 years ago from California

      Hi Born2care, thanks for reading! I agree with you, recently I started taking a class at a community college and it's reaffirmed to me the power of being surrounded by like-minded people! I'm glad this article was helpful.

    • Born2care2001 profile image

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 5 years ago from Asheville NC

      Hi StellaSee!

      Interesting article and I do not envy the position that Gen Y is in. In fact, I apologize as part of the Boomer generation for contributing to the mess we now face.

      I will offer a few tidbits that may help.

      1) If you can afford it, hire a coach to help you. They are invaluable.

      2) If that's not possible seek out a mentor. The guidance and encouragement are critical.

      3) If the above isn't practical, work in meetup groups for the same purpose. Just be sure those you are surrounding yourself with are in tune with your goals.

      4) Have goals, period. Keep your ideals in focus and never give up, even when you are flexible. Having goals will help keep you going in time that may not be so much fun. Stay at it. You can do anything you set your mind to...anything!

      You did a great job on this hub and you taught me something about my clientele as well.

      Thank you!

      Rev. B. Stuart Noll