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Millennials and Grit

From Laura at Apt. 11D:

When presented with an opportunity of “gimme points” in history class in the form of easy homework assignments, Jonah said, “nah. I’m done.” He simply didn’t turn in nine homework assignments this spring. It took a while for the teacher log those zeros into the online grade portal. So, we didn’t realize that he was in deep shit until it was too late. After a lot of yelling, he was urged to ask his teacher if he could hand them in late. She said no. Then there was more yelling and a week of grounding.

From Jonah’s point of view, it makes absolutely no difference if he gets a B or a C or even a D in this class. Why work for no reason? From our point of view, ARG! DO THE DAMN WORK! IT ISN’T HARD! CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! LEARNING! CHALLENGE YOURSELF! HIGH EXPECTATIONS!

There are all sorts of books aimed at parents and educators about the value of “grit” and not eating that marshmallow. These authors maintain that kids who know how to delay gratification and work through obstacles grow into successful adults. Jonah’s method is to weigh the pros and the cons of working hard before exerting himself. Hard work simply for the sake of personal perfection is a fool’s game.

I’m not entirely sure that Jonah is wrong. I come across people every day, who favor Jonah’s strategic effort method. Sure, they aren’t usually the ones who make it to the top of their profession or make news headlines. But they find those jobs that pay well with mediocre expectations and then hunker down until retirement. Sometimes they even accidentally do become wildly successful, because of luck or bullshitting skills.

I was trained as a social scientist and then accidentally ended up in the business world nearly 20 years ago. Despite nearly two decades of trying to blend in, I have failed miserably. I’m always the guy at the meeting that wants to talk about ‘things that you can’t put on a spreadsheet’ like employee morale, demographics, geographic diversity, etc. My coworkers politely smile and then go back to trying to ram square pegs into round holes.

There is a lot of talk these days about Millennials in our workforce. I’m interested in this because the data shows most of my coworkers will come from this group within the next 10 years. While it’s easy to start fierce debates by stereotyping, it should also be fair to make some broad statements based on careful observation. There are a few high-level conclusions that I have reached.

Millennials are impatient

This is probably the thing people talk about the most and what I also see the most in the Millennials I work with. We joke that instead of starting at the bottom of the mountain, they want the helicopter to drop them off halfway up. In general, we just hear a lack of willingness to pay their dues and move up through the organization at the pace the rest of us did.

To be fair, what I also see is a great number of them saddled with school debt, because they were told half-truths by college advisers. Many of them also be in a hurry to be start an adult life. I know more than one that graduated from college, got married 5 minutes later, started having kids, etc and now need a salary equal to their responsibilities. My personal observations of a few coworkers contradicts the statistics. Studies show that Millennials are actually delaying many life milestones, like marriage, in ways that no other generation has.

Millennials want their work to matter

Laura’s story above doesn’t sound to me like she has a lazy son. To the contrary, I know from reading her blog for years that he is a good student and will be attending a good college in the fall. It seems to me that he is saving his energy for things that he believes matter. Putting the minimal amount of work into passing a high school class when you’ve already secured your college admission seems to be one of those choices that Millennials feel more comfortable making. As Laura concludes, just because it makes older generations have anxiety attacks, it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice. I think where we worry is that this might become a lifelong habit, and sometimes you just have to see things through to the end.

We are also told in many books, articles, etc that the key to making Millennials happy in their jobs is to make them feel like the work they do matters. In this respect, I tend to agree. That stuff is important to me too. I’m actually amazed how many of our employees, in generations older than me, really don’t seem to care very much. So maybe I understand that aspect of Millennials more than others. The difference might be that I also believe in changing the organization from the inside, where Millennials seem to want the company to have a heart on the day they start their job. When they realize it doesn’t, or doesn’t in the the way they want, they grow disenchanted and leave. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this pattern repeatedly, and we lose some of our employees with the most potential because they don’t seem to have the heart for a fight. This strikes me as odd though, since Millennials are considered to be extremely socially engaged.

Millennials are Grumpy

One survey in the UK called Millennials ‘the real curmudgeons of the office’.

…nearly half of those surveyed claimed that Millennials were the least co-operative and the biggest complainers. [Millennials] were also named as the least likely to take responsibility by 57% of those surveyed…

I don’t think I disagree here either. We all complain. It just often feels like Millennials do it for sport. To me, they feel a lot like Baby Boomers in this way. One of my professors in college, a Baby Boomer himself, referred to his generation as ‘the most spoiled generation in history’. Sometimes, in my most negative moments, I think that crown might get passed to Millennials someday.

All of this, again, is based on anecdotal observation. For every Millennial that seems to fit a pattern, no doubt readers will tell me about 10 more that disprove the characterizations I am making. And to be fair, I’m a Generation Xer, once referred to as the ‘slacker generation’ and according to some we are now, “…the greatest entrepreneurial generation in U.S. history…” I have no doubt that 10 years from now Millennials will have figured out how to navigate the world a bit better and begun changing opinions. The same survey quoted above calls them the ‘most creative’ generation in the workplace, so that’s a good foundation to build on. In the meantime, the challenge is really for those of us above Millennials in the org chart. How do we deal with these employees? How do we build the future of our companies on their habits? What will they look like in 10 years? These are all questions that need answers, but the most important thing is that we recognize the challenge in the first place.

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Mike Dwyer is a writer in Louisville, KY. He writes about culture and the outdoors for Ordinary Times. He is also one of several Kentucky authors featured in the book This I Believe: Kentucky. Mike is active on Facebook and Instagram. He lives with his wife and daughters in the distant suburbs, at the place where neighborhoods give way to farms and forest.

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139 thoughts on “Millennials and Grit

  1. 20 year olds act like 20 year olds.

    Always have, always will.

    40 year olds will act like 40 year olds.

    The ones you want to hire, though, are the 40 year olds capable of preventing the 20 year olds from having conversations with the 60 year olds. Oh, and hire the 20 year olds that can be prevented from talking to the 60 year olds.

    If we play our cards right, in 20 years, we can play this game again.

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  2. In general, we just hear a lack of willingness to pay their dues and move up through the organization at the pace the rest of us did.

    I’m a Gen-Xer & I have this attitude, as well as the “Make Work Matter” attitude.

    I bet if you asked them, what you would find isn’t that young people aren’t willing to start at the bottom, it’s that they aren’t willing to do scut work just because they are new & young. If the work has value and will help them advance (i.e. everyone has to know how to do X, so you need to learn how to X, even if it’s unpleasant or boring), they’ll happily master it, but as soon as they start feeling like all the older employees are dumping X on their desk because they are the new guy and they need to “pay their dues”, not only is X gonna get real old real quick, but it will be obvious that they are not being given opportunities to grow their careers and they will go find those opportunities elsewhere.

    And this is key, because I think Millennials (the ones that aren’t whining on Social Media or to Slate bloggers about how worthless their degree is) are coming into the workplace with an attitude of “I will take control of my career”, rather than just letting their career happen to them. And if you get in the way of them doing that, they will leave (and no, they aren’t interested in changing the attitudes of crusty old managers and executives, at least not directly, they vote with their feet, and it’s up to the ‘smart’ guys in the room to get a clue).

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    • I’m sure many at the bottom feel they just get the grunt work. My experience though is that many have an over-inflated opinion of their abilities, so they think they should be jumping the line. From Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

      Twenge attributes Millennials with the traits of confidence and tolerance, but also describes a sense of entitlement and narcissism, based on personality surveys showing increased narcissism among Millennials compared to preceding generations when they were teens and in their twenties.

      I was up for a promotion last year and the other finalist was a guy 11 years younger than me. He and I are friends and worked very closely together. I know his abilities and I know mine. I also have 11 more years with the company and experience does matter. He has been complaining about me getting the promotion for a year now. My boss told me afterwards that there was a ‘large gap’ between his abilities and his opinion of his abilities. And I see this regularly with the Millennials I manage.

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      • Overestimating one’s abilities is not something new to millennials, although they may have a more acute case of it. Still, a case of overconfidence does not negate my point, which is that they will not tolerate being dumped on because they need to pay some amount of nebulous dues before being allowed to advance. The whole idea of “paying your dues” in order to advance is a load of BS that needs to be burned out of corporate (and other) cultures, because it’s basically seniority rights that are many times detached from actual ability.

        Sure, you probably do have a more mature skill set thanks to 11 years of experience, but there are a lot of people who get promoted thanks to the Peter Principle working alongside some idea that their dues have been paid (coupled to an unwillingness of companies to demote people who need to be). I’ve been working a long time, and have had my share of supervisors and managers who were incompetent but retained because no one gets demoted. I’ve also seen people promoted to management solely because the other candidate was deemed too young. Not, I will note, unqualified, but too young and thus unlikely to gain the respect of the workers (read: senior management didn’t want to have to actually back the guy up, because that would involve actual management skills).

        Which leads me to my larger point, which is that a lot of managers have this idea that their job is to manage the work, and not the people. A bad manager hands out work assignments and rubber stamps the “HR crap”. A good manager delegates the work assignments to the appropriate leads/supervisors and engages in the “HR crap” to make sure that their people not only have the resources to do the work, but are also as challenged and as engaged as possible, and are getting what they need to take control of their careers.

        There is something of a crisis in management skills in the US, and I think Millennials, with their expectations, are bringing that crisis to the fore.

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    • One of the better breakdowns I heard of Millenials focused on actual shifting cultural norms within the group (which really started long before them but they are the whip’s end) as opposed to breakfast preferences.

      Millenials are much more individualistic than collectivist on a personal level. This leads to things most of us would agree are positive (e.g., an increased acceptance and appreciation for diversity because of a “you-do-you” mentality) and things that are less agreed upon (e.g., abandoning strict adherence to social norms around dress or behavior because, hey, “you-do-you”). This has been a gradual change in American society but Millenials are now the leading edge.

      So things like strict hierarchies hold little weight. Instead they value meritrocracy and being able to buck the system because the system is (or seems) old and antiquated and intended to extend the life of the system instead of actually get the best results.

      They aren’t wrong… but they aren’t right either. And with the inflated sense of self common to ALL young people across time, they aggressively think they are right.

      So I think you’re right that they don’t object to entry-level work; they object to what they feel is poor treatment predicated upon their age and station in live (i.e., it is undeserved). They’re smart but not as smart as they think they are but feel emboldened by a life of societal messaging not that they are special snowflakes but that they are empowered agents of change who shouldn’t take no for an answer.

      My college (class of 2005) literally told us we were to bring light to the world. How could we not act a little entitled after that? My mom would ask why her colleagues my age thought they knew everything. I explained this to her and she said even if all that’s true, they don’t know everything and need to learn their place. I didn’t disagree but pushed back and asked why she assumed they knew nothing and treated them as such?

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      • My college (class of 2005) literally told us we were to bring light to the world.

        Ugh! And then there were people like me, who because we did well in school, were told we were going to do Great Things and wind up walking through adulthood feeling slightly confused and slightly like a failure because we haven’t, exactly.

        I mean, I’m employed, I pay my bills, I maybe on good days make a little difference in someone’s life….but I haven’t cured cancer or anything.

        Being told I was going to “bring light to the world” would feel like an unbearable burden and something I couldn’t live up to.

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          • I suppose so.

            I had a friend in grad school who used to watch Jerry Springer for the simple thing of being able to tell herself, “At least I haven’t treated people the way people on there have treated people.”

            “Not killing people” seems like a pretty low bar to achieve on “being a decent person,” but yeah.

            I decided a while back I have to define success for myself, and “not having killed anyone” is part of that. (I can also report I haven’t maimed anybody). So, go me, I guess?

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  3. You know, I have a friend that says that the best engineers are those that are both lazy and have a sense of responsibility.

    The more responsible thing for Laura’s son to have done is do the early work, and then stop when he is sure he can pass the class and avoid any catastrophic consequences. In his situation, coasting for the “C” is a fairly common thing. But there’s a mature way to do it, and he blew it.

    I like the term “resilience” rather than “grit”. I’m not sure either applies to this story. To me “resilience” or “grit” is about overcoming adversity. It’s about succeeding after failing a few times. This story isn’t about “grit” at all. What it might be about is habits. It looks like a bad habit, and a bullshit justification for that bad habit. And that’s why you want to use the pattern that I described at the top of my comment.

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    • You know, I have a friend that says that the best engineers are those that are both lazy and have a sense of responsibility.

      Engineering — defined broadly — is one of the few fields where someone with those two attributes can change how their job works largely independent of level. Responsibility means I have to get the work done; lazy means that if possible, I will automate it; once automated, responsibility sends me to my boss to say “I automated this and now I have time on my hands.” I have known any number of engineers who think of this — even if they don’t articulate it this way themselves — as “I’m an engineer, i.e. a problem solver, and if you give me scut work to do that’s not problem solving, then the problem I’ll solve is how to do the scut work faster/better.”

      Yes, good engineers are somewhat strange people.

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      • “I’m an engineer, i.e. a problem solver, and if you give me scut work to do that’s not problem solving, then the problem I’ll solve is how to do the scut work faster/better.”

        That fully describes my last 18 months at the Lazy B. I got tired of getting scut work, so I took the previous lame attempt at automating it, and did it right and proper.

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  4. Is this a joke?

    I mean, the whole crusty old capitalist, “work to the job order and get your paycheck and then go home, if you want a mission join the Church”, bloody-minded wage-slave attitude…isn’t that a joke? A source of cynical humor about the mindless interchangeable conformity demanded of modern capitalism?

    “Millennials seem to want the company to have a heart on the day they start their job. When they realize it doesn’t, or doesn’t in the the way they want, they grow disenchanted and leave.”

    You’re writing your post like we should consider them to be wrong for doing this. Like there was a test, and they were found wanting, because they asked for a reason and you told them there wasn’t one.

    “How do we deal with these employees? How do we build the future of our companies on their habits?”

    Well. Maybe you should be more upset about how they want something to give a shit about. Maybe you be more dismissive of their frustrated search for meaning. Maybe you should lecture them even harder on how you have to Pay Your Dues in the world before you can expect anything worth having.

    I mean, that doesn’t seem useful, but it does seem like what you want to do.

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    • Most/all companies can do better in the areas of mission, principles, etc. And it’s pretty easy these days to do your homework on them before you send in an application. So why is there so much surprise when they get there and things aren’t perfect? Be part of the solution. I work in Quality. It’s a thankless job, but I believe I can make my company better, even though I am one of nearly half a million employees. So…I fight. And I invite Millennials to do the same. But too often they seem to think the grass is greener on the other side. They give up, just when they are starting to get the hang of things because someone like you probably told them that job-hopping is the new normal and if your boss doesn’t fill your day with meaning you should jump ship. Man, that is terrible advice.

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      • And I invite Millennials to do the same.

        But why should they. You, I understand, you have invested time and effort in the company, so there is something of value to you in that fight.

        The new guy, who has little to nothing invested, why should s/he fight? Especially when there are other companies who did see the future and are pivoting toward it. This is evolution in action, companies that can’t evolve get buried.

        Let me put it another way, if your company can not be appealing to millennials, you will, very quickly, run out of quality employees as they retire. Why should millennials adjust to fit your model of corporate culture, rather than your company adjusting to attract them?

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        • I think it’s a little bit of both. We have to adjust our ideals to attract Millennials. At the same time, successful companies got where they are by doing things a certain way. My company is 110 years old. We didn’t get there by constantly changing to meet the whims of the next generation. And I think eventually Millennials are going to realize they can’t demand quite so much of their employers because quite frankly, a 22 year-old college graduate doesn’t really know enough to demand much of anything. Give me a few years, learn the company, and you get a seat at the table.

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          • Well, this is one of those things where “the market” is working again.

            “Millennials want more money and more vacation.”
            “Pah! They’re not going to get that.”
            “Millennials want meaningful work and a seat at the table.”
            “Pah! They’re not going to get that.”
            “Well, I guess Millennials won’t work for you.”
            “FINE!”
            “Okay, fine.”
            (time passes)
            “Man. We can’t seem to hire anybody.”

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          • So you’re the guys who put the buggy whip manufacturers out of business!

            A year or so ago I read an article about some millennial college interns that didn’t like their company’s dress code. So they wrote up a big petition and demanded a meeting with management. It didn’t go well.

            AskaManager.org story

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          • Sure, no company changes to meet the whims, but again, you are pulling the dues crap again, right here:

            …a 22 year-old college graduate doesn’t really know enough to demand much of anything. Give me a few years, learn the company, and you get a seat at the table.

            Really, it takes a few years of work before the kid can get a seat at any table? Really? Because I am able to spot deficiencies in a workplace a lot faster than “a few years”. More like 6 months at the outside before I start making myself heard at meetings. I mean, ostensibly you hired them for their intellect, and not simply their ability perform physical or rote tasks, correct?

            And you know, 110 years is a really long time, more than long enough for a company to have some very bad habits that are perpetuated through institutional inertia. You might want to let the new people have a seat sooner rather than later, before that inertia breaks them, or they get tired of being told to shut up and go find somewhere else to work.

            Also, are you sure that what the young people want is some how counter to the future success of your company? Are they asking for senior management responsibility straight out of the gate, or do they just want management to take their career development as seriously as management wants them to take corporate development?

            Again, crisis in management here. Do you want someone who will just punch a clock and be a cog, or do you want someone who will grow their skills and productivity and become a person who adds significant value to the team? I mean, ideally, as workers gained skills and became more productive, employers would pay them significantly more, but wage stagnation is a real thing, and wages have not kept pace with increases in worker productivity across large swaths of the economy (they are pretty much keeping pace with inflation), so workers are looking for other means of compensation (like flex time, vacation time, workplace perks, etc.). Are you meeting those concerns, or just telling millennials to be quiet and take what they can get?

            Because if you are, then that is exactly what they are doing. They are getting just enough work experience to be able to market themselves to someplace else.

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            • I develop all of my employees…aggressively. I don’t just give them busy work, we give them opportunities to learn. A the same time, they need to develop at a reasonable pace. I don’t see that with Millennials. They want to come in off the street, diploma in hand, and start halfway up the ladder. I actually had a coworker who’s only previous job was assistant manager at a Dunkin’ Donuts in high school and they were miffed that their business degree didn’t put them in middle management.

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              • I actually had a coworker who’s only previous job was assistant manager at a Dunkin’ Donuts in high school and they were miffed that their business degree didn’t put them in middle management.

                Wait, I think I see the problem here. You should go hang out at a business school for a bit, and listen to what business students are being told.

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                • “This degree you’re buying is worth *EVERY* *PENNY*. You’re really smart for buying it! When you get a job, you will pretty much immediately make middle management. Now, here’s how to write a job requirement so that you’ll automatically be approved to hire an H-1B visa applicant instead of an American citizen…”

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          • “My company is 110 years old. We didn’t get there by constantly changing to meet the whims of the next generation.”

            I bet dollars to donuts that doing just that is precisely why your company has lasted.

            I mean, you hire women now, right? And non-whites? And Jews? You offer maternity leave? Some people probably work remotely? You travel via means other than horse-and-carriage?

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            • While I appreciate your extreme examples, I don’t consider those things ‘whims’. I’m talking about the stuff that they ask for once they are in the door, much of which is not stuff that previous generations asked for.

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      • The job-hopping thing (not in the form of work that was explicitly a seasonal position, or constant precarious contract work, but the jumping ship every three years or so from an employer where you could potentially have stayed until retirement) – from what I’ve observed, that’s mostly the territory of people older than millenials.

        I have no idea what you’d call them, generation-label wise. They’re in their early forties to fifties now.

        I think a lot of your observations are sound and on point, but on this I’m mostly with :

        Millennials seem to want the company to have a heart on the day they start their job. When they realize it doesn’t, or doesn’t in the the way they want, they grow disenchanted and leave. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this pattern repeatedly, and we lose some of our employees with the most potential because they don’t seem to have the heart for a fight.

        That’s exactly how capitalism is supposed to work.

        The best and the brightest go to the little agile companies whose business success relies on their hiring the best and brightest, and that are able to make themselves attractive to them.

        The big solid battleship companies whose business success relies on the careful process that lets them succeed with a wide mix of talent levels, get a wide mix of talent levels, but often miss out on the best and brightest.

        As such, this is tongue-in-cheek translatable to “Darn kids and their 19th Century capitalism!”

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        • Re age and job-hopping, I think you placed that about right. I’m 63, and it started in a big way in my particular technical field about 8-10 years after I started in industry. Not by coincidence, I think, it also marked the beginning of the period with both explosively growing small companies and the reorganization boom (M&A, as well as splitting off chunks of the company in pursuit of profits).

          People were trying to land in the right place to get fabulously wealthy. At the R&D end of things, the Bell Labs strategy — smart people with stable careers can eventually solve any problem — lost out to what was known as the Cisco strategy — hang back, then buy the little company that finds a solution for a billion dollars. I know people who jumped and jumped and jumped at reasonable opportunities, but never hit the jackpot.

          Myself, I was a bit old to play the jumping game, but I put myself on the right side of a major split, then the right side of a major acquisition, then took early retirement (and did something completely different) when I ended up on the wrong side of an acquisition.

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  5. Its not Millennial’s fault; it’s their parents:

    As I tried to make sense of this, something surprising began happening: I started getting more patients like her. Sitting on my couch were other adults in their 20s or early 30s who reported that they, too, suffered from depression and anxiety, had difficulty choosing or committing to a satisfying career path, struggled with relationships, and just generally felt a sense of emptiness or lack of purpose—yet they had little to quibble with about Mom or Dad.

    How to Land Your Kid in Therapy

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    • Ah, that’s it! In order to rescue the IBMs and Fords of the world from disruption, we must resolve to be worse parents!

      That way our kids will be just traumatized enough that they’ll be stuck working on the stuff lower down on Maslow’s hierarcy – love, belonging, esteem – and won’t have time to waste on the upper fripperies like meaning, beauty, personal growth. Parents of today, only you can ensure tomorrow’s army of Prozacated, go-along-to-get-along functionaries!

      To the liquor cabinet, it is your patriotic duty!

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  6. In general, we just hear a lack of willingness to pay their dues and move up through the organization at the pace the rest of us did.

    I was born in 1980. From what I gather, this places me either at the very end of Generation X, the very start of the Millennials, or simply in the purgatory between generations.

    This is where old economy Steve memes come in. I think a lot of Millennials would call BS on this sentence and note how many Boomers and even early period Generation X members were able to graduate college with little or no college debt because tuition was low, a lot of aid came in the form of grants instead of loans, and the tuition that remained was at levels that could be serviced with an intense summer job or part-time work throughout the year.

    A lot of this disappeared in the 1980s along with good jobs for people with High School graduations only.

    Many Millennials also believe that it is also a problem that the issue is not their loyalty but the loyalty of the employers. I don’t know how much of it is based in reality or not but there was a belief that in the post-WWII 20th century, there was a sense of obligation between employee and employer. Lifetime employment might not have been an official policy but it seemed to exist in practice often enough along with regular benefits, bonuses, raises, and pensions for retirement.

    We have hashed through this issue a lot of times here and can’t seem to come to a consensus about why these things went away: Did the advent of activist investors like Carl Ichann cause companies to turn towards more short-term profit making and pumping? Was it increased globalism that caused companies the need to be less generous with benefits and loyalty? Both? Neither? Something else?

    I just find it interesting how people’s mentalities, ideologies, and partisan advantages cause people to come to different conclusions about whom is to blame for what and who owes what whom for what.

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    • I think a lot of Millennials would call BS on this sentence and note how many Boomers and even early period Generation X members were able to graduate college with little or no college debt because tuition was low, a lot of aid came in the form of grants instead of loans, and the tuition that remained was at levels that could be serviced with an intense summer job or part-time work throughout the year.

      That’s still absolutely possible.

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      • Yo old economy Steve I don’t know where you’re getting that’s possible but that’s only possible if you already have a large pile of money and you want to turn into a smaller pile of money with the degree attached to it.

        Inflation in college tuition is real yelling at happened when we stopped supporting them directly

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        • Best universities in India

          Starting at the top, University of Delhi Admissions

          I’ll convert the rupees to dollars in brackets.

          EXPENSES
          Tuition fees and other fees vary, but are usually between Rs.6, 000-12,000 per annum. [US$93 to $187/year] Room and board expenses in University and College residence range from Rs.3000/-to 6,000/-per month. [$47 to $94/mo] Total expenses covering tuition fees, boarding & lodging and incidental expenses approximately come to Rs.7000/-per month [$109] for students residing in Hostel and Rs.10, 000/-per month [$156] in respect of students who are residing in private rented accommodation.

          Every foreign student has to pay one time Foreign Students Registration Fee of Rs.18000/- [US$280] for undergraduate including Certificate/Diploma courses, Rs. 24,000/- [$374] for Postgraduate courses and Rs. 30,000/- [$468] for courses leading to research work. In addition, every foreign student is required to pay Rs. 6000/- per year [$93] in addition to the regular fee to the College/Department/Faculty in which he/she is admitted. Students (from other than SAARC countries) are required to pay an amount of Rs. 2, 10,000 per year [$156] in addition to the fees paid by the Indian students for courses like MIB, MHROD, and BSc (Hons) Computer Science

          Jimmy, how would you like to study abroad?

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        • My youngest daughter actually started college yesterday. A small, regional campus of Indiana University. $8000/year for full time, plus books. She didn’t get much on her Pell ($900 for the year) but does qualify for $3,000 annually in work study. 30 hours per week at a part-time job and she can easily cover her tuition, car payment, etc.

          The oldest daughter started college in 2012, used her mom’s tax returns and got about $5,000/semester on Pell. Plus work study. And I haven’t even mentioned doing 2 years of community college like I did. That roughly reduces the above bill by half.

          So I still don’t get the thing where college is unattainable for so many. It’s not that they can’t afford college. They just can’t afford the college they want, and/or the on-campus lifestyle that looks so good in the brochures.

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          • 30 hours/week is full-time, no?

            ETA: Then layer on her work study hours ($3000 annual / 40 weeks / approx. $10/hour = 7.5 hours per week) and class hours (15) and homework hours (assume 1 per credit hour so 15 more) and you want an 18-year-old to take one a 67.5 hour week?

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            • I put myself through college, using basically the same plan, plus I was a single parent, so…I’m not real sympathetic to your math. Even though I think your numbers for class hours and homework are a bit inflated, let’s go with that:

              168 hours in a week
              -67.5 hours for school & work
              -56 for sleep
              ………………………
              44.5 hours

              Spend another 20.5 hours with your friends and that’s still a balance of 24 hours unaccounted for. Observe the Sabbath. Sit around complaining about how hard life is with your fellow Millennials. Whatever. It’s worth it if the payoff is a college diploma.

              I mean, frack, I paid for my last two years of private high school bagging groceries for 30+ hours per week. It’s not that I think my kids need to suffer like I did. I didn’t suffer. I just didn’t have as much free time as my friends. Looking back though, I’m so glad I did it. It taught me the value of hard work.

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              • You’re leaving out things like eating, commuting, going to the bathroom.

                I’m not saying it’s undoable. You did it! I worked 10-20 hours a week through most of college. I’m just saying we should be clear in what we are asking. Saying, “Take a part time job,” when you mean a 30 hour/week job for someone in school full-time isn’t really an honest representation of what you’re asking.

                As for homework, that is the general rule of thumb I’ve always heard, though perhaps can weigh in.

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                • I consider ‘part-time’ to be anything under 40 hours/week.

                  And I never took more than 12 hours of classes per week. My daughters are both sticking to the same policy. I had weeks here and there throughout college where I had an equivalent amount of homework, but as a general rule it was about 50%. That could also be my majors.

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                  • Does that graduate you in four years? 12 * 2 * 4 = 96. Aren’t most undergraduate degrees 120 credits?

                    Though maybe there is an argument for college taking 5 years? Or not requiring 120 credits? At least not in all majors? But we’ve gone a bit far afield at this point.

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                      • Five years might make more sense, especially if the extra time is spent working or otherwise preparing for post-college life in a meaningful, productive ways.

                        You’d still get old-timers shaking their fists at young’ns and their slow schoolin’, but whatevs.

                        I see much of the same stuff you do with my young’ns, but I think it is important to note that Millenials are different — with both positive and negative differences — and not just worse.

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                      • Wait, you’re talking about paying an extra $8,000 for an extra-year of college, plus foregoing one year of whatever salary a college graduate gets, and that teaches something about the value of hard work? I don’t think that works out mathematically for a lot of people.

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                • I was told one hour out of class for every hour in class, but I doubt I ever hit that in the sciences, if you could hour-for-hour including labs. (Maybe in something like history, where there’s a truly insane amount of reading).

                  As a grad student I took fewer hours but spent more time working on homework and homework-adjacent things. I also TA’d, I taught (I think? It’s been 20 years) 3 2-hour labs a week plus did the grading, which could take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours per lab depending on the complexity of it. They were less concerned about hours back then; no need to keep us under some magic number lest they had to pay us benefits.

                  Working 10-20 hours a week as an undergrad is totally doable; a lot of our students do it. You have to be organized and you have to be able to defer gratification. (There’s a famous Life In Hell comic that is actually about grad school that contains the line “C’mon outside! We’re playing Frisbee and drinking beer!” and the main character says “Sounds great….I’ll be out in about five years”)

                  Working 40 hours a week as an undergraduate is not sustainable over the long term. That’s not to say we haven’t had people try.

                  In-state tuition, fees, and room and board here is running about $12,500 per year currently. Not sure how that compares with other schools but I know we try to stay as “affordable” as possible. (And we’re kinda reaching the limit on that, with deferred maintenance and no COLAs for employees….)

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                  • I spent under an hour outside class for each hour in a comp sci class, and easily over two hours outside class for each hour in a drama class (my two majors for most of undergrad).

                    I knew one fellow student who was working something like a full time job in his fourth year (I don’t think it was 40 hours a week, but could have been 30). He was an extremely bright and capable guy – brighter than me; I surely wouldn’t have passed if I’d spent that much time asleep or half asleep in class due to work exhaustion.

                    In Canada, I think
                    – 12 hours in class a week is the typical full-time / part-time study boundary (for income tax and student loan purposes)
                    – 30 hours of work a week is the typical full-time / part-time employment boundary (not formally defined in law, but typically part of employment contracts
                    – 40 or 44 hours of work a week (48 in a couple of provinces) is the straight-time / over-time boundary

                    The whole point of overtime regulations is to discourage employers from working their staff more than 40 hours a week – it’s not some kind of minimum to be considered “really working”, it’s the maximum to be able to retain a healthy home-life / work-life balance.

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                    • CS was killer at my school. teachers actively referred to classtime as “here’s when you sleep” time (as in they didn’t mind — you showed your work, you showed you knew your work, in the homework assignments, which were extensive).

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                • Saying, “Take a part time job,” when you mean a 30 hour/week job for someone in school full-time isn’t really an honest representation of what you’re asking.

                  I tend to think 30 hours per week is “part time,” although not as much part time as, say, 20 or 10 hours per week. I get your point, and it’s really hard to work 30 hours and take a full load of classes.

                  In my undergraduate years, I ran the gamut. My freshman year, I didn’t work at all (except for winter break). My sophomore year, I worked more than 30 hours per week on average and took 19 credits. That was grueling. In alternating semesters, I tended to work between 20 and 30 hours per week on average. I didn’t plan it that way. It just seemed to work out that I’d work really long hours (about 30) one semester and closer to 20 the next. All the while I took between 17 and 19 hours and passed all my classes with all A’s and 2 B’s, except for my last semester, when I think I may have taken 12 hours.

                  Obviously, it was easier to work 20 hours than 30, and no hours easier than 20. I don’t like to use the “I did it and so should everyone else” trope, but I’m proud I was able to do it.

                  At the same time, I had resources. Every summer, I stayed with my parents rent free and was able to save up money while I worked in the summer. That and the fact that I never got (very) sick and had no relatives to care for (and had a scholarship that paid almost all my tuition) enabled me to graduate debt free. But even with all that, I was down to my last 900 dollars or so by the time I graduated. If I had had to, I could’ve probably survived on less, but I was cutting it all pretty close.

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    • The loyalty issue is very important. Employers wanted a right to work labor force. They wanted freedom to outsource. They didn’t want unions or robust protections for workers.
      They got all of these things. And now they cry about no one wanting to pay dues, climb the ladder one rung at a time, and invest some place for the long term.

      Maybe I’m missing this part of the argument but whats the incentive to do that? From my perspective a lot of the commonly criticized millennial attitudes arise from deliberate public policy choices related to labor and financing education.

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      • Wanting to have your cake and eat it to seems to be a near universal human problem in all sorts of issues. For some people to have their cake and eat it to, other people can’t have any cake at all.

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      • I can’t speak for a lot of other companies, but my company hasn’t done layoffs in Louisville once in the 17 years I have been with them. So, they are pretty loyal to the workers. And thanks to generous stock programs, most of our management retires at 55. The number they are quoting right now is something like 75% of our management is eligible to retire in the next 5 years, creating tons of opportunity… And the Millennials are still telling us it isn’t fast enough.

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        • It’s not that that isn’t fast enough, it’s that they don’t believe you.

          Lazy B has very nice retirement benefits, and offers early retirement, and getting people to leave and retire damn near requires a threat to fire them. I was spun that line about a wave of retirement and burgeoning opportunity to be promoted into the vacant positions, and it just never happened.

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        • That sounds like a pretty unique situation with your company and maybe the newbies are fools not to take advantage of it. Nevertheless, as Oscar said, it can be tough to take promises like that seriously when you spend your formitive working years being reminded how expendable everyone is.

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          • Hearing all the complaints here, apparently my company IS pretty unique. We’re really big on promoting from within. It’s entrenched in our corporate culture and we consider it a fail when we have to hire management from outside the company. I’ve met very high-level management folks that started out driving trucks, or working in our warehouses. I personally know building managers that started out as temps.

            At the same time we believe very strongly that in order to be a good leader you need to start in the trenches. Learn the various business units, learn what it’s like to work in a 90 degree warehouse during a 3-month peak season. Find out the kind of gripes that an entry-level worker has because you’ve been right there with them. That perspective will serve you so well later.

            So…that’s the environment I am observing. A corporate culture that not only values, but celebrates, the journey and the experience of working your way up through the organization. And then Millennials coming in and complaining that we won’t give them the cheat code.

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            • Learn the various business units, learn what it’s like to work in a 90 degree warehouse during a 3-month peak season. Find out the kind of gripes that an entry-level worker has because you’ve been right there with them. That perspective will serve you so well later.

              Question: Do you have a management grooming program? At Lazy B, you could request a 2 year rotation program that would put you in 3-4 different areas for 6-8 months at a time so you could learn the business units and get a feel for how management works. Likewise, there is a more selective Executive Leadership Program (my wife got to do that) that spends two years giving participants extra duties and experience to groom them for senior management and executive positions.

              Both are formal programs that anyone can apply for.

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              • We have both formal and informal development programs. Even once you are in management, you get rotated every 2-3 years to a new account, which will present all new challenges, give you new teams to manage, etc. As an organization, we are struggling with new talent though. Because we no longer have young kids willing to start at the bottom and work up, we now have no new admin or entry-level management candidates. I’m hearing that even our warehouses are having trouble finding people that want to be team leads. So we’re pushing development even harder. But we’re not seeing the talent coming in the door either, so there’s not much to develop.

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                • “Because we no longer have young kids willing to start at the bottom and work up, we now have no new admin or entry-level management candidates.”

                  When I started work, the first thing anyone did as “career development” was tell me–right away–that I needed to join the management rotation program.

                  It occurred to me that I barely knew my ass from a hole in the ground and it wouldn’t go well if they put guys like me into technical management.

                  Ten years later, I was right.

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              • Interestingly, I just heard a fun fact today: In 1999 Toyota received 75,000 ideas for improvement from 7,500 employees. 99% of those were implemented. That’s why everyone in Quality looks to them for best practices. They instill in all of their employees, from Day 1, that they can impact the organization. So my question is whether a Millennial that is doing grunt work would feel better about their job if they knew someone was still listening to them?

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                • When I was worked at the auto assembly company, they had a reward program for ideas that improved efficiency, reduced costs, etc. The reward was cash based upon some percentage of the total savings.

                  Some engineer got 100k for suggesting that the the company spray paint thinner through the robot sprayers before each car entered the spray booth. This apparently cleaned out any remaining color from the last job and cleaned the pipes.

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                  • A company I contracted for had a program like that. 10% of the five-year value of the savings or some larger percentage of the 1-year value IIRC.
                    It lasted until a production engineer suggested a change that saved the company 1.8 million dollars in the first year and a total of nearly 10 million over 5 years. They spent years in court trying not to pay him and everyone gave up on them.
                    Between that sort of thing and raiding pensions and collapsing vacation and sick time into “flexible PTO” and not paying it out or allowing roll-over any more who wants to work for an “old-school” company?

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                    • Yep.
                      My company went from vacation & sick time to PTO. I successfully argued, in my case, that I was being shorted and won. I was asked not to discuss my individual situation with fellow employees :)

                      Recently, we went back to vacation and sick time, and they limited the amount you could bank and get paid out for. But the real bitch is that they changed the way the 401k contribution payments were made. You gotta be careful as to WHEN you leave or you’re shorted a quarter’s contributions or such.

                      Couple that with 30% + increases in copays for insurance, and a reduction in the number of plans from say 10 to 3, thanks in part to the ACA, not really “getting ahead” here.

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                      • I don’t have a problem with flexible PTO that has limited bankability & pay out, as long as the company let’s you take it. If you are discouraged from taking time off, or if time off approval is left to the discretion of managers, then it’s a scam.

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                        • I do. If the conversion to the new system is used to screw people out of hours they banked legitimately in the past and they now have a year to spend (let’s say 6-8 weeks or more) in a year otherwise they just loose it.

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                          • Agreed, converting over should allow employees reasonable time to take the vacation or cash it out. When we were acquired by German MegaCorp, we were given a year to use it or cash it, and we were allowed to carry over one week’s worth of vacation time and one week of sick time.

                            I took almost a month off right before the changeover and still had a week to carry over.

                            Also, German MegaCorp is very good about making sure employees can take vacation time. Your manager might prevent you from taking off on short notice if there is a hard deadline to meet, but it’s a pretty firm bar they have to cross to do so. I know there are companies that use PTO, and are very generous with it, but using it is like trying to redeem airline miles from a crappy points plan.

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                            • Yep. Most of the employers I’ve worked for have been flexible in it’s use and if it’s booked far enough in advance, regardless of what comes up, i can still take it.

                              One company had a use it or loose it policy but there would allow you to take the vaca up to the following first quarter. Still, when you have employees that earn 5-6 weeks a year and bank 4, you quickly run into the cap. We have had several employees take every non friday off as vacation for the entire summer to burn down their pool so they don’t loose it. That’s a shame.

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                • I think that’s very likely the case.

                  I don’t have any objection to grunt work, but I’d object to being treated as a dumb grunt because of my current job description. I have worked as a dishwasher, and it was fine, but I’d put up with being a “dishpig” only to stave off starvation, and would jump ship at the first opportunity.

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            • I think everything you listed makes sense, and its nice to hear that places like that exist. I’m just not sure its compatible with the modern work experience most of the time. Its possible people are missing out on opportunities without realizing it but I think the overall response is rational given the environment.

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        • I’m going to expand on some things that have been said here regarding the up & comers.

          1) There is a sense of entitlement. And it’s not in the way you think it is, but it’s entirely understandable why you feel it is. Part of it is from parents who’ve hyped up self-esteem,part of it is from colleges who’ve sold the idea as part of their whole “We are not defrauding you, your education really is worth the cost of a decent house.”. But part of it is a direct result of corporate behavior over the past 30-40 years. I’ll expand on that as I go along.

          2) When you talk about people starting at the bottom and working their way up, in the past, how many of those people were required to have a BA/BS just to get an interview? It’s one thing to work your way up from the bottom when you show up with nothing more than a diploma (or less) and a strong work ethic. If you can’t even get a call-back without spending 4 years and at least $50K in tuition and fees, yeah, you are going to expect to start a bit higher up the food chain, especially if it’s work that has not traditionally required a degree (Engineers & Scientists, etc. get a pass on this because some college education in the field has pretty much been a common requirement since before WWII). Couple that to the message that colleges and society puts forth that a degree IS the path to avoiding the bottom rungs, and are you really surprised?

          3) Perhaps your company is an exception, but most of the big companies have made a habit of sacrificing employees upon the altar of Wall Street Quarterly Earnings Projections, and the young employees are often the first to go. So I’m serious when I say they don’t believe you. The name of the game is to build up enough experience and skills that you can make your resume shine, and to do it fast enough that you not only look like a hard charger, but when a layoff happens, you aren’t stuck with nothing to show for it. And again, this is a sin of corporate HR that is massively discriminating against young people with little to no experience. If your HR is listing positions that are effectively entry level, but require any level of experience, then HR is busy making your life more difficult. Those kids pay attention enough to know that if they spend 3 years doing the office scut work and suddenly get laid off, they just wasted 3 years. They can’t say they have 3 years experience doing the tasks that other places are looking for, because they only have 3 years experience doing scut work. So again, corporate behavior has created the sense of entitlement, in that you can not expect young people to have experience if you are unwilling to allow them to gain it. So they demand to be allowed to gain that experience, so they can survive.

          4) Related to 3 Again, you may be an exception, but business news has a pretty consistent drumbeat of stories about how the Boomers are not retiring, and are hanging on because they aren’t comfortable with their pensions or 401Ks, so no, they don’t believe you that opportunities are just around the corner. And they are right to think that. Basically, if it’s something you think of as a benefit that you are unable or unwilling to put into writing, they aren’t going to believe you. They’ll believe that you believe it, but they aren’t going to give up breathing or sex waiting for it to happen. Ergo, they have to chase opportunities as they appear, both inside and outside the company. This ties back to 3, in that in order to chase opportunities, they need the skills and experience.

          Both 3 & 4 reflect larger trends in corporate behavior. Your employer might not be guilty of any of that (and I think I know who you work for), but the fact is that you are painted with that brush, and if you don’t want to be, your PR & HR groups gotta step up their game and differentiate yourself to potential employees.

          5) Because of 3, there is no “If I get laid off”, there is only “When I get laid off”. That idea has been fully internalized by millennials. Telling them that you haven’t laid anyone off in 17 years is great, right up until the news breaks that you will be doing layoffs for the first time in 18 years. The only way to survive is to be fully mercenary and to get as much out of a company as you can (while hopefully giving good value in return). Thus, because of 3 & 4, “Paying your Dues” is seen, quite justifiably, as an effort to prevent a young person from gaining the skills and experience to not only let them advance internally, but to prevent them from being able to leave for other opportunities (“Oh, you spent 5 years at ABC doing jack-all, why should we hire you and pay you more again?”), with the lovely added benefit of being practically unemployable when they get laid off, especially if the market is down (entry level positions are the first to feel a hiring freeze).

          So yes, they want a lot from a company because they want to survive & be successful. They don’t want to waste time doing crap work that doesn’t allow them to gain new skills and experience, because it will hurt them when they get laid off. And if you insist on making them pay their dues without letting them do something to grow their resume, they will jump ship as fast as they can.

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          • I don’t disagree with much of what you wrote here. To be clear, I understand all of those dynamics. But what I also believe, strongly, is that starting at (or near) the bottom of the company makes you a better leader someday. Having the degree in your pocket, when you get pulled into management, is still a good thing. I worked for my company for several years without utilizing my college education, but I needed to learn the real-world stuff. So when I finally got into management, I began using both my college education and my real-world education. You could think of them as College Part 1 & 2. I know I would not be as good of a leader without having both.

            I guess an analogy would be that we would never be okay with Millennials telling colleges they want to skip Gen Ed and go straight to their degree courses. We recognize they need a foundation. We tell them 4 years of college is how long it takes to produce a BA. Why then do we think that a couple of years of ‘grunt work’ while someone learns their business is somehow unreasonable? Where’s the patience they showed in college?

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            • Job Requirements: Master’s in Electrical Engineering
              Job Responsibilities: Changing lightbulbs, wrapping extension cords, turning light switches on/off

              “How come our newest engineers keep complaining about being so low down the totem pole?”

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              • I have a friend who’s family owns a local grocery chain. His dad started him there as a bagger in high school, and had him continue to work up through all the departments throughout college. Because it was a small company, the boss was able to talk to the heads of each department and tell them to put him through the ringer. no special treatment. I was working there when he was on his meat department rotation and I watched him slice about 100 hams for Easter one year.

                He is now the President of the company.

                The only difference is that he was 100% certain there would be a payoff. Someone explained this to him. Maybe the problem isn’t the grunt work. Maybe the problem is that no one explains to them WHY they were doing it.

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                • Maybe the problem is that no one explains to them WHY they were doing it.

                  I see two issues. First, someone can explain things to you but you still have to internalize the need for you to do something on your on. Second, I feel that some millennials have a need/requirement that folks explain to them instead of just accepting the directions and doing what folks tell them to do. Sure, it is nice to have folks explain to you why they want you to do things but that isn’t how the world usually works.

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                • Maybe the problem is that no one explains to them WHY they were doing it.

                  Well, that, and the whole “if you wanted me to wrap extension cords, why in the hell did you make me get a Master’s Degree first?” question.

                  If all we wanted them to do was wrap extension cords, perhaps “some college” would have sufficed.

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              • Many years ago, the organization I was in moved our lab facilities into a new building that was still under construction. It was in a state with a very strong electricians’ union. Light switches weren’t a union job, but plugging and unplugging equipment was so long as the union was working in the building. I was the stuckee manager for getting the lab running without triggering a walkout by the electricians. I took the head union guy for the site out for a beer and reached a settlement: it was enough that a union member supervised us plugging and unplugging our equipment, and providing a space in the lab where union members could study for exams for the next level counted as supervision.

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            • Where’s the patience they showed in college?

              They used it up in college.

              Why then do we think that a couple of years of ‘grunt work’ while someone learns their business is somehow unreasonable?

              Maybe the problem is that no one explains to them WHY they were doing it.

              I think you need to be very clear what you mean by “grunt work” here, because if I have a 4 year degree and I am doing “grunt work”, I’m going to be looking for the exit unless we are all on the same page as to why I am doing “grunt work”. I think you also need to be very honest about why you want someone with an education as opposed to someone who is willing to do the work. I mean, do you have them actually working on problems, or just doing rote tasks? Because a person with a degree is probably going to want projects to do and problems to solve, even little ones.

              So sure, maybe the guy does a butcher rotation. Is he spending all his time slicing holiday hams, or is he also learning all the cuts of meat, and the inventory system, and the ordering system, and the USDA health inspection requirements, etc?

              Back when I was an a fresh grad, I had an interview with BF Goodrich in Beloit, WI. Very cool factory, very interesting product lines. I was interviewing for a “Field Service Engineer” position, that I had actually been recruited for (I did not seek them out). I figured it was a position that required an engineering degree for troubleshooting significant product failures or issues in the field. The guy who goes out when the mechanics are stumped, or when something is non-conforming and they need an engineer to figure out a work-around and sign off on the change.

              Nope, their Field Service Engineer is the mechanic. Their normal mechanics were HS grads who went through 6 weeks of training and then spent about 75% of their time on travel, for a whole $15/hr. I’d start at $18/hr, because I was already an experienced naval mechanic, and I had a degree. They said that maybe, after a while in the field, I could apply for an opening in their engineering department, if one came available.

              I declined. Not because I was afraid of hard work, or travel (I had been in the Navy, fer chrissakes!), but because I did not spend 4 years working my ass off to become an engineer so I could go back to being a mechanic in the hopes of being an engineer, someday.

              If these people have a degree, and you are not putting them to tasks that allow them to use that education, you had better have a really good explanation as to why, or they are going to walk.

              Remember, they DO NOT TRUST that your business will afford them the time to do what you think they should. So you need to figure out how to earn their trust, or figure out how you can groom them for advancement without having them feel like they are doing work that could be done by a well trained monkey.

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              • I guess one of the variables is that, other than our engineers and a few other positions, my company doesn’t much care what your major is in. And even now, many lower-level management positions do not require a degree if you have 3 years with the company. Keep in mind, only 25% of the adults in Louisville have college degrees. So that’s how someone like me, with BAs in History and Anthropology, ends up a Quality guy with a logistics company.

                So…in this respect, we’re basically taking kids and saying, “Your BA in Sociology tells us you basically know how to learn stuff and you can see a project through to the end. Now we’ll teach you how to actually work in our industry.”

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                • Then I hope you are being very clear and upfront about that during the interview process.

                  However, even if you are, remember that being a college grad these days means they want to be given problems to solve and projects to work right away. A person can toil away at grunt work if they have something that is engaging their mind in other ways, at least for a while. Also, every problem and project successfully completed goes on the resume, so when they get laid off, they have something to take to the next interview besides a few years of grunt work.

                  If you don’t have problems for them to work, or projects to do, why are you looking for degrees again? There are lots of veterans out there that don’t have degrees but who know how to see a job to the end.

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              • I had a conversation with a couple of the lefty tulpas I have in my head and they explained to me another dynamic that might be going on here.

                Let’s say that you want to hire someone who is “a good fit”.

                And by “a good fit”, they mean “somebody exceptionally solidly middle class who can quickly and easily absorb the corporate culture and all that’s entailed with that.”

                This doesn’t necessarily mean “white”… but if you started making a list of what we’re talking about, you’d say “I understand how a sophomore at Oberlin would start screaming about ‘wypipo’ if we started listing off the things that we’d consider a plus (many of which, let’s face it, are intangibles).”

                So formalizing it is a way to avoid that unpleasant conversation. People who manage to get a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering are people who have demonstrated a good percentage of what we’re looking for (including the intangibles) even if we don’t technically need them to have a Master’s Degree… but the number of “holy crap, this person is a nightmare” people has been culled down a huge amount.

                The guy with the Master’s Degree in EE that shows up? No matter what color he (or she) happens to be, I know that my odds of hiring “a good fit” are somewhere around “solid”. Hiring “Fresh Outta High School And Willing To Endure OJT”, by comparison, might provide an equally solid percentage of good fits, but the potential for “holy crap, this person is a nightmare” has gone from “a lot lower” to “a lot higher”.

                So you ask for the Master’s Degree.
                This way you can’t be sued for being racist.

                Even if all the job requires is Fresh Outta High School And Willing To Endure OJT.

                And if this means that the people we’re now willing to hire have to get Master’s Degrees then that means that the people we’re now willing to hire have to get Master’s Degrees.

                See also: the Unintended Consequences that followed the Ban The Box movement.

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                • If that is the case, then people shouldn’t be complaining that the EE jumps ship when he realizes he isn’t going to be an EE.

                  I know a lot of employers use degrees for a host of proxies, but they also need to remember that people don’t typically spend 4+ years studying a topic because it’s a means to an end. So a BA in Sociology might not ever work in Sociology, but that doesn’t mean the topic is of no interest to them.

                  So perhaps the thing that needs to do is to look at their CV again, and see if he can imagine a way to make what they are doing relevant to their education, because if they are dissatisfied with their work, chances are they are not seeing it.

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                  • Oh, dude, don’t get me wrong. I *TOTALLY* know that.

                    There’s also the dynamic where we’ve recently had a longish “lost decade” and employers were in a buyer’s market. They could ask for the moon and “settle” for people who were merely freakin’ awesome.

                    Well, while it’s not a seller’s market quite yet, it’s less of a buyer’s market than it used to be.

                    Which means that sellers are able to ask for more than they used to.

                    And if you’re used to sellers saying “how high?” when you asked for the moon, this whole “yeah… no…” response must come across as really unpleasant.

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                • Using ever-increasing degree requirements to create more barriers to entry, in a world where people live longer and longer, is happening in every field. I saw it in archaeology. When I started on my BA a Masters Degree would put you in charge of a field crew. My boss had his Masters and did just that. Around the time I was graduating, they started talking about how ‘a PhD would be even better’ and I realized they were raising the bar. Meanwhile my day job had very few people with degrees and it would be years before they started requiring degrees, let alone an MA. So, for me, the solution was to switch industries. I still think there are a LOT of jobs out there like that.

                  I will also say, we haven’t even talked about the trades. I don’t know what the heck Millennials are doing in fields with very entrenched pay-your-dues programs.

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                    • Sure – but in the OP and my comments, I’m not talking about a company raising the bar after the fact. That’s kinda crappy and I don’t believe Millennials for bouncing in those moments. What I’m talking about is them coming into a company with an established policy of learning the business from the bottom up, and then complaining that it’s not fair.

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                      • Are you giving call backs and interviews to people with HS diplomas and a solid work history or a DD-214? Or are the degree holders getting most of the call backs & interviews.

                        If it’s the former, then you may have a point. If it’s the latter, then you’ve raised the bar.

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                          • Translation: A degree gets you a call back and an interview, experience might get you noticed if it’s the right kind of experience.

                            If you don’t really care about the degree, don’t list it as preferred, because it instantly becomes a metric.

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                            • This is a lot of insider stuff, but I realize you’re making assumptions. The degree requirements are in job models that are created by the corporate office. We’re an international company with operations all over the world. Many of our folks in management either don’t have degrees, or got theirs well after the fact, at some college you have never heard of, because they were told they hit the ceiling on their careers without it.

                              With that said, many of those managers think the degree requirements are stupid for lower-management jobs. I know for a fact some of them will do everything they can NOT to hire the person with their degree if they can. So while it’s listed, it’s also common knowledge that it is often ignored.

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                              • Common knowledge among who? Like I said before, I think I know who you work for, and I’ve never heard of them being unconcerned with a degree.

                                Listen, if you hire a person with a degree, and a degree was listed in the job posting, then they are going to come into the job with certain expectations regarding their professional career path with the company.

                                If your expectations are not aligned with theirs, they will go find an employer whose are, unless you can convince them to change their expectations. Whether or not it’s worth it to you/your company to make that effort is a value judgement you have to make. But I promise you that complaining about generational expectations that align with the reality so many other companies have created will only bring you heartburn.

                                So either keep turning them over until you get lucky, or figure out how to get them to trust you that paying the dues is worth it.

                                And if they have a degree, give them something to do so they feel like the degree matters. Very few people are get a degree for egalitarian reasons.

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                                • If we have a position that requires a degree, they aren’t going to be in the warehouse slinging boxes. It’s either going to be a desk job of some sort, or a management job. But what I see regularly is Millennials that come in with their degrees and say that they should START at mid-management. Then they end up as an administrative assistant, building databases or running reports, etc and they feel under-utilized.

                                  I think where you and I might be talking past each other is that you are assuming entry-level for those kids means sweeping the floors. It doesn’t. It just means ‘you’re not even close to ready to be an account manager’.

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                                  • Ah, I see. Then we are back to “you need to go spend time at the schools”, because that is where they get that from. I spent 5 years doing IT management at a Business School, and the sense of entitlement was pretty jarring. I clashed with the academic offices and faculty members rather regularly because they promised students things from the computer labs that I refused to deliver (as it would compromise the smooth operation or system security of the labs).

                                    I was called into my directors office multiple times, the Deans office more than a few times, and even got seriously called a Nazi more than once.

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                                    • I think it’s a combination of their parents telling them they can be anything they want and their schools. One of my close coworkers went to the Kelly School of Business at IU, which I understand to be pretty prestigious, and he seems to be the one that is most stunned that he isn’t CEO yet. It’s a bummer to watch reality set in with these guys.

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            • “Why then do we think that a couple of years of ‘grunt work’ while someone learns their business is somehow unreasonable? Where’s the patience they showed in college?”

              College isn’t going to unexpectedly tell me that it can’t afford to have me as a student and leave me without a means of supporting myself.

              College isn’t going to tell me that those upper level courses are an aspirational goal and it’s up to someone else to decide whether I’ve got the right attitude to deserve.

              College makes it clear that the lower-level courses provide a foundation, both in knowledge and in skills, that is built on by later courses in a clear and understandable manner.

              So, y’know. You’re right that people are willing to work through the steps of college in a way that they aren’t for a job, but college makes that happen in a way that it seems like people are strongly not interested in doing for a job.

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              • Just to reiterate ‘s point, they DO NOT TRUST you that the work you have them do will have a pay off at the end.

                It may not be true for your company, but there have been too many other companies who’ve made that claim, then failed to keep it. Those places have shat the bed, you just get to lie in it.

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  7. Lots of disjointed thoughts here….

    I am an older Generation X (born 1969) and I remember when my cohort was “slackers” who couldn’t get/didn’t want “real” jobs. Kind of like some of the complaints levied at Millennials today. I was annoyed by that label, but then, I was raised by older parents (Silent Gen rather than Boomers) and I think I adopted some of their attitudes about things. I often had people tell me I seemed “older” than my age.

    I also teach college, and a lot of my students are in the late teens-early 20s cohort (I guess that’s still Millennials? I don’t know this stuff any more). I do have a fair few older students who are returning to school (we get a lot of what we call “non-trads”).

    I have to say – the stereotypes are there for a reason. SOME Millennials show those behaviors, and show them quite strongly. (The whole, “I need to be led through this step by agonizing step, and I want you by my side doing it for me” thing – whereas one positive stereotype of Gen X that actually fit me was that you could give us a list/set of instructions and we’d figure it out on our own). Some Millennials have the sort of “agonizing youth” thing – a sort of misguided idealism that I remember from my 20s. Some of them seem extremely needy to me. (But maybe I’m needy myself, and I just get tired of constantly cheerleading people when I rarely have anyone but me to cheerlead me).

    I think of all the stereotypes, when they fit, the need-for-constant-validation one bugs me the most, but that may be “my stuff” talking.

    Then again, a very large proportion of our students do NOT fit that stereotype. They want to work, they want to learn, they have an idea of what job they want to get when they get out. A lot of our students do internships or the like while going to school and those often lead to full-time careers. A lot of our students work because they have to work – this does lead to other issues and more than once I’ve had someone with a graveyard shift fall asleep in class, or someone get called in for an “emergency meeting” (for which they provide documentation to me) and then I have to arrange for them to make up the exam. I use the “having to take your kid to the ER late at night” as an example of something I count as an excused absence because it’s happened so often.

    (I may notice this kind of thing more because (a) I was one of those lucky sorts who was able to get through college without incurring debt and I only worked very short hours in the cafeteria, and those, for extra spending money to go to the movies and the like and (b) we have very little support staff so things like arranging for makeups and dealing with extensions and late work is 100% on the profs. And also, we just have a lot of students with difficult and complicated lives, and that spills over….)

    We also have a lot of students who are married and/or have children, or who are caring for aged or disabled relatives. I suspect some of the Millennial stereotypes are of people who haven’t had to ‘grow up’ yet; I know my single-father student takes a dim view of some of the shenanigans of the more-traditional dorm-dwelling 19-year-olds because he knows that he has to get to his kid’s day care to pick him up, and then go home and fix him and his kid dinner, get his kid to bed, and then study….

    I suspect (most of) the kids will be all right once they’ve had to take on a little responsibility. They talked a lot of smack about my generation, but you don’t hear so much about it any more. (Then again, there are apparently so few of us that we don’t matter to advertisers and the like….that might actually be a good thing, I don’t know.)

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    • This particular Gen Xer was outsourced at least five times. Wait, lemme count…

      Yeah. At least five times.

      I have had more than a dozen jobs since I graduated from college at more than a half dozen companies. I’ve yet to be fired from any of them. (Knock wood.) It was always a case of a contract ending.

      Hearing companies talk about wanting workers to be loyal makes me think “yeah, people in Hell want ice water.”

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  8. I have a slightly different take on the issue of Millennials and grit. An issue is that many Baby Boomers are simply not retiring for a variety of reasons. For many the allure of relatively early doesn’t have the same luster as it did for their parents and grandparents, who at least in the Western world where the first generations that could both live long and enjoy mass retirement thanks to social security programs and pensions. Many other Baby Boomers can’t afford to retire. Many politicians in the Western world are late silents or early Baby Boomers. Same with business leaders or even entertainers.

    Since people in their mid-60s to late-70s are dominating many of the top positions in the private and public spheres, there aren’t many routes to the top for younger people. Millennials being the youngest working people have it the hardest. Since they see no obvious route to advancement and might not even have route, they are not necessarily going to work hard.

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    • …many Baby Boomers are simply not retiring for a variety of reasons.

      Not least of which is the Federal Reserve’s decision since 2001-02 that fixed return assets available to the Boomers would never ever again return more than 2% per year in real terms. Which is bankrupting defined pension funds, public and private. And cutting in half (or more) what can be safely withdrawn from defined contribution plans. And has every financial advisor in the country telling us that the new reality is you’d best not start pulling Social Security until at least age 67.

      OTOH, moving returns back to historical norms probably bankrupts large parts of the economy.

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  9. I’m either an old Millennial or a young Gen Xer depending on who you ask. I don’t recognize the lack of grit but then I went into a field where I knew the hours would be long. Everyone I know is in some form of debt slavery and trying to figure out when (if ever) their economic situation allows for kids and home ownership of some kind.

    As for attitudes towards our corporate overlords I long ago realized that the only attitude that makes any sense is to be a mercenary. Anyone in corporate America who does anything else is a damn fool.

    This doesn’t mean there’s no reason to work hard or produce quality. Good mercenaries demand higher pay and get out of debt quicker. But for the life of me I don’t understand how anyone who isn’t an owner cares about these places. It isnt like theres a golden watch and pension waiting for you. They definitely won’t shed any tears when security escorts you out during the next wave of layoffs.

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  10. I’m at a high enough grade now that mentoring junior colleagues is part of my job now, and I have to say that I’m not seeing the traits you’re pointing to. I’ve come across a couple of millennials who were of limited value, but far more who were dedicated, capable and eager to learn when their existing skills weren’t enough.

    Now it seems to me there are three possibilities here:
    1) Government attracts a better class of millennial than business does. In which case, I guess businesses have to offer more to get the better millennials.
    2) New Zealand is different from the US in this regard, or the kinds of graduates we hire are different from the kinds you hire in terms of their grit. In which case my experience is inapplicable.
    3) Small sample bias. How many millennials are you generalising from here?

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    • I’m in government and have the same experience. The young engineers I work with are almost all dedicated and hard working. The exception is the interns. They have all been lazy, including the one I had in the private sector. The career guys, on the other hand, are mostly bad. We’ve got a lot of formerly private sector mid-career employees who are very good.

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  11. So let’s talk about employee’s invested in their company..

    Case in point: We were recently “merged” into another company within our corporation. The new guys in charge basically came in, knowing nothing about out business, and gutted our accounting dept, moved it all somewhere else, and did a lot of reassignments and walked people out the door on a Monday. Since they don’t understand how our business works, they want us to round hold square peg their processes onto our business because “we all need to be consistent”.

    We our labor utilization is higher than theirs, we’re obviously wrong. When it’s proved correct, which I did, it’s “still a problem” because their utilization cannot be bad/wrong. The arrogance combined with ignorance is stunning.

    Up to last year, I had major roles in stuff and was actively working with a team to help recover the business and forecast as accurately where all the expenses were going to provide the best idea of our year end numbers. You could say I was actively engaged and invested in the success of the company.
    Now, half those responsibilities are gone and someone does it 2 thousand miles away. I say “do” as in we were told she does it but she’s never actually done it.

    So…how “invested” do you think I am now? You want to get employees interested in the success of the company, do not do the above.

    On another note, about 15 years ago a friend and I were working at the same company and were talking about career objectives. The topic of being the CEO or on his staff came up and he that everyone at that level was either divorced, estranged from his family, had no outside life or all of the above. His kid was about 2 and he said no way he wanted that. He had a point. I’ve lived by the following concept for a long time: “I do what I do because I’m good at it and it affords me the ability to do what I really want to do in life.” I like idea a lot.

    How is this related to millennials? No idea.

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  12. I saw an interesting piece yesterday in the economist : https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21726745-when-greenbacks-are-offer-american-schoolchildren-seem-try-harder-effort-not showing that millennial understand the idea of pay for performace and if your not payed then don’t try so hard. In summary it showed that in the case of the math part of the pisa if you said you will get 25 dollars or its equivalent in Yen that students in the us increased their scores raising the mean from 39th to 19th in world wide scoring. Given that everywhere else pay for performance seems to be the way the us economy claims to work, why not schools? In particular since the tests it question did not affect grades the folks who took them might have asked what in it for me if I do well, if the answer is nothing then don’t try to hard.

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  13. This discussion could be more finely honed. We’re not talking about “millennials.” We’re talking about “millennials who are fortunate enough to have a job and who have some formal education.” I realize Oscar and a couple others are bringing up the situation of the person without a college degree, and I realize Mike mentions the trades in the discussion. But the gist of the discussion seems to ignore those millennials who feel just lucky to have any job. When we talk about whether millennials feel “entitled” or not, we’re usually talking about a small (maybe not “very small,” but smaller than a majority) subset of millennials.

    For the record, while I believe that people evolve and that “generations” do differ from each other in some way, I lean much more heavily to the “20 year olds will act like 20 year olds, etc.” side of the spectrum. That’s partly a question-begging bias, partly a hypothesis. It’s a question-begging bias because I’m not sure how to prove or disprove it (if 20 year olds behave a certain way, that’s how 20 year olds by definition and tautology behave). It’s a hypothesis because I’m theoretically open to its being disproved.

    I will say that while I got the “you’re going to do great things” message from a lot of people as a kid, I went into college believing that I’d get a degree, but that I’d be very lucky to have any non-food service related job. (Not to demean food service, but at the time, I thought all I was good for was food service work. I was pleasantly surprised to get a job working as a teller (part time, temp worker, alas, but still not food service) after I got my BA.) I’m probably a gen-X’r (about 4 years younger than Fillyjonk), so maybe this was just me fulfilling whatever slacker prophecies were in the air (even though I don’t right now recall hearing them).

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  14. It is an offensive absurdity to describe Millenials in this way without at least briefly accounting for how older generations have utterly and completely screwed them over. From demanding more education while paying them less to playing political games with their futures while protecting their own, older generations have essentially insisted that Millenials be smarter, better, and savvier than they ever were, while simultaneously insisting that they should be willing to do so for what amounts to fundamentally less, and then, whenever those Millenials then balk at the absurd trade-off being demanded of them, criticizing them to the nth degree.

    The older people who engage in this foolishness can pound sand forever.

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    • Gosh darn it, it is our God-given right to scream “Kids these days!” and pound the table and insist that, finally, after thousands of years, this time it’s true. Kids these days are awful!

      Also, it is totally not the fault of the generation screaming. Kids these days were raised by wolves on the tundra, clearly. If there was still tundra. And wolves.

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      • does have a point that a degree does not qualify one for a management position right out the door, unless one has considerable management experience already, and grads who think it does need a reality check.

        But on the same token, if they have a degree, it is not unreasonable for them to expect a serious shot at management positions on a compressed time line. If they come in with a 4 year degree and have to start at the same place as a person with 3 years of work experience, they are going to wonder why, and management had better be ready to manage those expectations.

        But aside from that, I agree with Sam, older people in business should not complain that young workers have adapted to the playing field the previous generation has setup. It feels like when I play Tic-Tac-Toe with Bug, and he changes the rules of the game, then gets annoyed with me when I change them as well. (reminder: Bug is 5)

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        • It’s 2017. Sam is saying that these grads are ‘…smarter, better, and savvier than they ever were‘ but they can’t read the internet or watch the news? The issues we’re talking about, with them going into massive debt and being shocked that there wasn’t a six-figure job waiting for them after graduation…this isn’t a new phenomenon. Occupy Wall Street was six years ago. They don’t get to keep blaming the grownups.

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          • The issues we’re talking about, with them going into massive debt and being shocked that there wasn’t a six-figure job waiting for them after graduation

            Are the ones you are dealing with falling into this group? Maybe it’s because I deal mostly with hard STEM types, where the degree isn’t a filter, but a bare requirement, I don’t see these kinds of attitudes very much. The STEM programs tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to managing student expectations after graduation (we expect to get put on projects and problems pretty quick, but it’s rare that someone thinks they can just step into a management role straight away), but then, the STEM fields rarely have to hype up the value of the education as it relates to career success.

            Still, I blame the schools. The news may say one thing, but the schools say something else, and we humans are really, very very good at convincing ourselves that “the bad things don’t apply to me , I made the right choice, and went to the right school, and did the hard work, and get to reap the rewards”.

            And now you get to re-align those expectations.

            Hire vets, we tend to be much more pragmatic & pessimistic.

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            • The engineers I work with are very much like you describe. Pragmatic, and realistic. I work with one guy from Virginia Tech and asked him how he ended up in Louisville and he simply said, “I needed a job and they were hiring”.

              If we get the liberal arts majors like myself, they are usually either waiting for something in their field to open up or they just chose a major they liked with no illusions about actually working in that field. Those folks also seem to handle things pretty well.

              The ones that didn’t seem to see this coming are usually the business majors. They assumed when they came to work for a Business, they could write their ticket.

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              • hah. When I went to VPI we called engineering “pre-business”.

                I also remember that they had us take one business math course, and the back of the book was full of pre-calculated answers to all the equations presented in the book. Most of the “math” was concerned with how you took groups of data and normalized them to the point where they’d fit into those pre-calculated equations…

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                • The engineering econ course when I went to Tech was mostly converting lump sum dollar amounts, into time series ones, and vice versa – which now you can do in Google docs with about 5 minutes of googling to get the functions and formulas.

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              • Engineers can still be subject to similar problems, in the form of “everyone wants to be the project lead”, and it has been true for a long time. Anecdote (so feel free to stop here)…

                I was asked to take over as system architect for a large distributed real-time software project. The previous architect was a consultant (and BIL of an important senior executive) who billed double my loaded salary, and whose final document ended with “Now you need to hire me at double that rate to write the new programming tools you’ll need to implement the architecture.” The problem was in a narrow domain where I was one of the world’s experts. Anyone can be a world expert if you make the scope narrow enough; still, I had published papers on the topic. I had the outline of a system architecture and a prototype of the critical pieces to show it was really feasible. I grabbed the top developer and someone we both trusted from the business side and did the high-level design. Then it was time to add staff to fill in a lot of complex detail.

                It was a high-visibility project, so we got people with experience. And the first thing that happened with every single one of them was they came to me and said, “The architecture is all wrong, you need to start over.” With an implied “and do it my way” tacked on. Based on job titles, half of them out-ranked me. I spent six miserable months trying to sooth egos, deal with hostile managers in other organizations, and occasionally threaten people. Eg, the bosses hired an East Coast consulting company to do a specific task within the project. At least when their first status report was “The architecture is all wrong,” I could just fly out and tell them, “Here’s the contract. ‘Criticize the architecture’ is not in it. So, are you going to do the job specified, or do I go see your SVP and demand the money back?”

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                • How many of those egos were fresh out of school, and how many had been kicking around long enough to actually know something (even if what they know is unrelated to the problem at hand)?

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                  • Bear in mind that this was inside the same kind of giant telecommunications firm that was Scott Adams’s original model for Dilbert. I was a systems guy and it was understood that at some point the project would transition to a development group (sans me), so the development managers were angling to add it to their empires. The good side of that was the people I had to deal with directly had been around long enough to actually know stuff — in most cases, important stuff. But also baggage: the system should be designed based on their favorite maintenance model, or their favorite billing model, or…

                    Given time, I could convince them that the model was new because the problem was different than anything the company had done before, and if the model didn’t support the distributed high-availability real-time aspects, then there was no sense in doing it at all. Once they figured out that I had no interest in micromanaging their subsystem design so long as it was consistent with the big picture we got along. I also made it clear that if the people under them were all “the system architecture sucks”, keeping them on track was their problem, not mine.

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              • That’s probably the right question to ask, but I don’t have the answer. I kind of want to blame their parents the most. Participation trophies and all that. But also, they seem to have gotten some false expectations from their schools. And maybe it’s just a healthy dose of narcissism from Snapchating all their Tweets to Instagram.

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              • I worked at the Business School from 01-06, and the faculty and staff did a real good job of encouraging those entitled attitudes, especially in the MBAs, but even in the undergrads. A whole lot of it was, “we are a top school (see our ratings in USNWR!), you are the future business leaders!”. I expect lesser schools sell it hard in order to justify their cost.

                The most pragmatic of the programs was the Executive MBA program, and I suspect it was because most of the students were in the program because they were being groomed by their employers for an executive position (thus the employer was paying the tuition). Not only were the students less likely to tolerate having smoke blown up their asses, their employers would not be terribly appreciative of it, either.

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                  • Let’s just say that if they walk in the door with unrealistic expectations, no one in the school is going to disabuse them of the notion.

                    Honestly I see it as a failing of the school, but it’s one that most businesses don’t seem too interested in complaining about to the schools, which is honestly the only way it’ll change.

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