In Defense of Gen Y Workers

Spoiled? Entitled? Forget it. Generation Y employees simply know what they want, know what works, and won't settle for anything less from the companies and managers for whom they work.

By Jarina D'Auria
Tue, November 20, 2007

CIO — We’ve been called an entitled generation. We’ve been called spoiled. We’ve been called brats. What we are, old folk, is different. We have been raised with technology; we know what’s good and we won’t settle for less.

Old folk, like you, experience technology as a disruption of the familiar. You Boomers talk about the warm sound of vinyl records. Excuse me? You think that hissing crackle is warm? Gen X talks about claymation and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club and other sappy John Hughes movies celebrating slackers and losers. No thanks. I’ll take my IMAX movies and realistic graphics any day.

My parents bought our first computer—a snazzy Gateway 2000 with 25MHz, 8MB of RAM, 180MB HDD and Windows 3.11—when I was seven. With the help of my teenaged brother, we explored the soul of the new machine. Soon I was playing educational games like Math Mountain and Explore the Dinosaurs in 3-D! while he spent most of his time playing Doom.

Soon after that, my teachers started bringing me to the computer lab where I completed research projects and learned how to use all the computer had to offer—basics like word processing and games, but also utilizing its ability to search for information on websites like encyclopedia.com and Ask.com. Before, we would have to spend hours trying to find the same information in the library’s stacks. So long, Dewey decimal system, I hardly knew ye, and I’m glad I don’t have to now.

I grew up turning in my homework assignments online and using online chat rooms as study groups with fellow classmates. And it worked for me. It worked real well. I love the Internet, online communication and Facebook because these technologies allow me to do what I do best: multitask. Since I’ve been trained by and with these new technologies, I am—face it—better suited for the new work environment than you old folk. Even you old folk are beginning to realize that collaboration is a better way to leverage information to produce services, products, whatever. But while you think of collaboration theoretically, I live it and breathe it. And, unlike you, change doesn’t bother me. I love it.

When I was a kid, my parents couldn’t be bothered with the computer. They didn’t see any use for it since they got along perfectly fine without it for their whole lives. Now, almost 15 years later, watching either of them try to use it is somewhat laughable. It’s like attaching a word document to an email is the hardest challenge they’ve ever faced—even after countless tutorials from my brother and me. And forget about exploring new programs—they’d rather play it safe, stick with what they know and, consequently, stay stuck. Just like a lot of Boomer bosses I’ve had.

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