Millennials, also known as Generation Y or Gen Y, came after Generation X. They were born between 1981 and 1996. Y is the largest current generation at around 83.1 million just in the U.S.
Millennials, just like the other generations, were influenced by the environment in which they grew up. In their case, that was a world of mobile phones, computers, and the internet. This generation can't imagine a world when technology wasn't at one's fingertips every second of every day.
Why is the generation called like this?
The millennials got their name from the fact that they became adults around the turn of the millennium.
According to Wikipedia, authors, William Strauss and Neil Howe coined the term in 1987. Around the same time, the media connected that the children then in kindergarten would be graduating high school at the start of the new millennium.
Having grown up with technology, it's not surprising that this generation loves their digital gadgets. Social media is an integral part of their lives. This generation uses email, text messaging, but especially social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter regularly.
Some accuse them of constantly checking their social media feeds and seeking validation via social media.
They don't use social media for chats and gossips only. They also use it to share information, report crimes, do crowdfunding, and spread news and opinions.
Delayed transition to adulthood
Helicopter parents raised many millennials. Such parents are overinvolved in the daily affairs of their children. They tend to obsess over their children's success and safety. Millennials who had helicopter parents often experience burnout at school and find it challenging to transition from school to adulthood.
Another result of this overprotection has been young adults described by others as self-involved and entitled. As employees, they thrive on and need constant feedback.
Having been raised to believe they are unique and can be anything they want to be, many of them find themselves lost with no life goals of their own. They struggle to form romantic relationships or stay at the same company for a decent length of time.
Millennials are competitive
Due to the upbringing that instilled in them the drive to be the best, millennials are competitive in the workplace. This generation is confident and ambitious. They will leave an excellent position for another one that promises to be more challenging. They are known to expect their workplace to be challenging and their work to be fulfilling.
Tennis stars Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and Novak Djokovic are all millennials that exemplify the competitive trait of this generation.
Prioritizing family and community over career
Ironically, this generation brought up to take on the world has also lost interest in what the world offers. Many millennials who initially tackled working life with college degrees and enthusiasm for promotion, status, and financial reward have lost interest in the rat race.
Many of them have experienced burnout and are looking for a better work-life balance now. It's not related to lacking commitment to work. Millennials are simply prioritizing family life over a career. Having a family and giving family quality time is a millennial goal. They are ready to take a pay cut if they can have a better work-life balance.
Studies have shown that contributing to society is very important to this generation and that they want to be leaders in their communities.
Highly educated but carry huge student debt
Millennials are the most educated of all generations. Nearly 80% of them have earned a bachelor's degree, and thousands obtained post-graduate qualifications.
Due to the rising cost of education, they accumulated massive levels of student debt. When millennials started studying, the recession was in full swing, and tertiary institutions put up college fees because the federal government had withdrawn subsidies. Getting an education suddenly became very expensive in poor economic conditions. According to Business Insider, millennials in the graduating class of 2018 have an average student-loan debt of $29,800.
Millennials are natural team players
While growing up, many millennial children competed in team activities like sports and computer games. They even did their school projects in teams. These experiences taught them the value of collaboration. They are used to teamwork, and they know how to give input and expect others to provide them with feedback. They enjoy being part of a team and know how to cooperate with others.
Millennials are deferring homeownership and marriage
Due to massive student debt and rising housing prices, millennials take longer to marry and buy a property. Many are living with their parents or are sharing living spaces with friends or partners. Millennials often buy a property with a significant other before they get married.
Millennials tend to get married later in life. They don't want to get divorced, so they don't get married quickly. They take their time to get to know their prospective partner and clear any debt before they get married.
Facts about Generation Y
Great Recession of 2007-08
When the recession hit, the youngest millennials were 11, and the oldest were 26. The youngest were in their formative years, and the oldest were finishing their studies and starting their careers. For the older millennials it spelled disaster. They had student loans to pay off and no jobs or only low-paying jobs to help them pay off their study loans. The recession meant millennials faced significant challenges to enter the job market.
September 11 (2001)
All millennials can remember where they were and what they were doing when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. On September 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners, crashing them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre and killing close to 3,000 people. This event destroyed Americans' sense of safety in their own country. The event changed America forever and had an indelible impact on millennials.
Hurricane Katrina (2005)
When hurricane Katrina hit Florida and Louisiana, the youngest millennials were nine and the oldest 24. For them, it was a formative experience. Watching such a tragedy unfold on television as a youngster forever affects your sense of safety and security.
A childhood marked by gun violence
Millennials lived through the horror of Columbine (1999), Virginia Tech (2007), and Sandy Hook (2012). These shootings meant that for millennials, a school was no longer a safe place to be. Many millennials have memories of active shooter drills that were frightening and upsetting for them.
These massacres and others shed light on neglected mental health issues and bullying and sparked renewed discourse on gun laws.
And the threat hasn't been limited to schools. It has spread to other spheres of life, devastating communities in their clubs, movie theaters, and churches.
Most entrepreneurial generation
Millennials love convenience. They keep an eye open for opportunities to fill a gap in the market that would fulfill a need their generation has identified. It is how the sharing economy came into being.
One can rent everything now, accommodation (Airbnb), transport (Uber and Lyft), and luxury goods (Rent the Runway), to mention a few.
Malala Yousafzai (July 12, 1997)
Malala Yousafzai was already an advocate for girls' education when on October 9, 2012, she was shot three times by a Taliban gunman. After the attack, she continued her advocacy for worldwide access to education for all. She received the Nobel Peace Prize In 2014, the youngest person to do so.
Kim Jong-un (January 8, 1983)
Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is a controversial millennial. He has ordered the execution of many of his family members and threatens the world with nuclear attacks.
Mark Zuckerberg (May 14, 1984)
Zuckerberg is the founder of Facebook, the internet social media giant. He has declared that he wants to change the world. Together with his wife, he has pledged to use most of their wealth to "advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation."
It is a vast and diverse cohort that one can't summarize in a short article. Generation Y continues to change the workplace, transform families, shape online shopping, and change the world through influential global startups like Airbnb, Uber, and Facebook. Scores of young millennial entrepreneurs are disrupting industries and creating new ways of doing things.
Millennials have not reached their peak yet. They are shaking up the work environment and society at large, and they are not done yet.