It’s hard to believe that I, who turns 32 in six (6) more days, am STILL a millennial but apparently I am. It’s usually categorized as people born between 1982 and 2000, an 18 year span. Although I am barely “in the club”, I am proud to wear my badge as being a millennial even though sometimes we get a bad rep because of those on the younger end of the spectrum. Either way, I am embracing my “millennialism” to its fullest and focusing on the advantages of being a millennial versus the negatives.
My first day of classes as a business law professor atOglethorpe University (Class of 2004) was this Monday; my first official lecture on “Legal Principles” was this Wednesday. Regardless of the articles and bad media and constant complaining you may read about millennials and their laziness, self-entitlement and overall approach to the world, I want to tell you briefly what THIS millennial entrepreneur/business owner/lawyer learned in the 2 classes I have had thus far teaching and shaping the minds of other millennials.This can help you in dealing with millennials in your personal life and in business.
Lesson No. 1: Not all millennials are created equal. Being a graduate of Oglethorpe University many, many moons ago, I always knew that Oglethorpe attracted and produced some of the finest citizens. However, so much negativity surrounding millennials must have gotten to me so I expected someone close to a rebellious teenager when I showed up for classes on Monday. Instead what I was welcomed with smiling faces and sparkles in the eyes of students willing and wanting to learn. My class of 15 is at its maximum capacity. What a joy!
Lesson No. 2: Learn to engage millennials. There is so much advertising and so many distractions that sometimes the concept of personal interaction is hard for millennials to comprehend. I noticed that once I started asking questions, randomly I might add, to the students, they were just as engaged as any adult. I think many times older adults just assume that millennials are disconnected and disengaged because we don’t start conversations. But start the conversation and see how we respond.
Lesson No. 3: Millennials (or anyone) will only rise to the level you set. If you expect millennials (or anyone actually) to only attain a low standard because of your misconceptions or preconceptions, guess what? We are humans and human nature will allow us to only rise to the standard you have set. One of the requirements in my class is to dress business casual when we have professional guest lecturers. You would think the students would have complained. To date, I have heard NO complaints. Set a standard and watch us rise.
Now obviously this article is a little biased since I am a millennial AND, to be honest, I am totally enamoured with my students and with the prospects of teaching AND this was only the first week of class. But I would like to think that there is some truth to what I say about millennials especially the 15 wonderful students I have in my class at Oglethorpe. I hope this article gives you a different perspective about millennials and how you interact with them—it certainly taught me this and other lessons.