Not too long ago, you couldn’t swing a cat around the internet without it hitting a post about Millennials. The needy, greedy entitled generation that followed Gen X, and who were going to leave nothing behind them but a trail of debt and a bunch of mobile apps. They – we – were reportedly marching their way through the job market, stamping on friends for money and promotions, so self obsessed they had no idea of the world around them.
Quite naturally – that wasn’t the image I was rushing to identify with. Having been born in 1987 I fit squarely into the Millennial age bracket. Conveniently, I always thought of myself as an outsider of the trend (how Millennial, I know, I just didn’t see it.) I wanted the good stuff to be mine – feminism, gay rights, mixed race relationships and all that stuff, but in general millennials had given my entire generation a bad name and it was nothing to do with me. Nothing whatsoever. I mean, of course I had the famous Millennial ‘feeling of being indestructible’, as I explained to a life insurance cold caller recently, but who doesn’t at 27? Exactly.
The media got bored of Gen Y, and the buzz died away. And then it came back – but this time something had changed; Dazed and Confused rebranded us the
#dazedgeneration and plenty of other news sources began to mention ways that the traits they tore apart a year or two ago, might actually be a benefit to employers. But still, in my head I was steadfastly not a Millennial.
That is, until about two weeks ago, when I realised I’d been guilty one of the most commonly lamented Millennial downfalls: wanting it all, and wanting it right now.
I was speaking to a recruiter recently, who kept saying ‘at your level’. Over and over again, ‘at your level this‘ and ‘at your level that‘ and he made my blood boil. ‘My level‘, I thought, ‘is a good level. I left university 7 years ago and worked hard for one of the best known ad agencies in the country to get to this level.’ I was fuming. I was even angrier when he called a few days later and asked if I’d consider a role as a Resource Manager at an amazing company. ‘Do you mean Office Manager?’ I demanded.
I think this hostility was because recently, more important than salary, more important than my personal interests or finding a company that I could be happy at, was my Project Manager job title. Having that in my email signature mean that I had, in some self defined way ‘made it’.
It’s not that I think of myself as better than an Office Manager, it’s just not my dream, and I felt that I’d already done my time working hard at the wrong jobs. I’ve been a runner in a film company – making cups of tea and carrying anything you want anywhere you want, with a smile on my face. During that time I got ‘jokingly’ told off so often that I eventually bought my own a spirit level, string and drawing pins to help me put hundreds of teeny tiny movie stills up on a wall in a perfectly straight line every morning, and then did it all again the next day, and every day after that when my bosses wanted them in a different order. I’ve been an admin assistant, I’ve prepared meeting rooms, managed diaries, and made photocopies. I’ve brought in coffee and cleared up after Friday drinks. That was all fine, I was gaining experience and learning about work, but I felt that I had grown beyond that I well and truly felt that I had paid my dues. I was ready to sit at the adult table.
I wanted to try to keep an open mind, and I wanted the recruiter to like me (Millennial narcissism) so I told him to go ahead and put my name forward for the job. He explained that because of my lack of Project Management qualifications I risked being limited in the jobs I could get if I clung so desperately to my precious job title. He suggested 3 or 4 alternative, but less impressive, titles I could try and explained how they could be a path be becoming a fully fledged PM without the thousands of pounds of training. My over inflated self importance, and my desire to have a good looking Linkedin profile was getting in the way of me actually achieving what I wanted.
I took his advice and as a result this week I have three interviews; one with an amazing advertising agency I never dreamed I could work for, one with an eCommerce brand I’ve been applying to every time I’ve seen an opening for the last 2 years – but who have never asked me in for an interview before, and one phone interview that I just put down the phone from. It went so well I’m going in to meet them tomorrow.
Redefining my expectations, and the time scale of my plans has opened up the doors that seemed firmly shut, and though what I want might take a little longer, it feels a lot closer somehow.
Now I need to go and set up an Instagram account, forget to vote and twerk. That’s what Millennials are into, right?