In 2013, I read a Jezebel article that really resonated with me. It was entitled, “Breaking: Millennials Want Nice Things But Don’t Want To Work For Them.” The author takes the reader on a brutal journey about how Millennials are unforgivingly materialistic, stating that they don’t want to work hard and don’t view jobs as being all that important. Even worse, the article is rooted in a credible, multi-decade study.
Initially, I scoffed while reading it. Back then, it felt like we Millennials were being unfairly targeted because we were looking for more out of our lives and careers. But in three short years, my outlook has changed dramatically.
Now, I am constantly coming across articles and social media posts about Millennials quitting their first post-college jobs because they’re unhappy or suffer from wanderlust. They leave companies because their roles aren’t fulfilling. Sometimes, they even leave before they have another gig lined up. There always seems to be a problem with the company or culture, and they’re on a perpetual journey to find more.
When these Gen-X authors recall why they quit, I have to wonder: Could it be us, and not them? Could it be that we, as a generation, have majorly unrealistic expectations? At such a young age (relatively speaking), why is it that we think we deserve so much more?
When I read these “quitting articles,” I roll my eyes two, three and sometimes four times. You don’t find your entry-level job fulfilling? Shocking. Most aren’t meant to be.
It feels like Millennials are job-hopping mostly because they think they deserve better. They think they should have more responsibilities, be high up on the food chain and have unsaddled freedom.
I don’t think it’s unfair to want your employer to invest in you, or to give you things like office perks and flexible schedules. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to want a work-life balance. To be honest, I think corporate America is killing the American family. Everyone at all levels of society should have these things: not just Millennials.
But not everything is supposed to be instantly gratifying. When you start a new job, you should expect to pay your dues, just like everyone else above you did. You may have the student loan debt to prove you are well-educated, but that pales in comparison to real-world experience. Just because you wrote your college paper and completed an internship, that does not make you ready for a fancy title.
It sounds silly for people in the one-to-five-year experience range to say they aren’t “fulfilled” in their roles. Why should you be? These early positions are meant to be stepping stones for the meaningful job you’re truly after.
Generally speaking, entry-level jobs are hard. Mine sucked. Once I got past the learning curve, I had trouble seeing how my contributions fit into the big picture, and how they would help me advance in my career. This alone caused me to job-hop myself.
Looking back, I’m embarrassed by my sense of entitlement. According to this study, though, I was just a typical Millennial. I was expecting a whole bunch all at once.
Now that I’m eight years into my professional life, I get it. Every small, tedious responsibility I was charged with along the way has made me a powerhouse. Truly, just being good at what I do now has propelled me to a higher level of fulfillment.
On the career spectrum, eight years in isn’t that long. I still have ways to climb. I love what I do, and I will be in my current role for quite some time. But that doesn’t mean I won’t eventually want more. I just now understand that you have to work for it, and working for it takes time.
Do you want to know how to be happy with your entry-level job? Don’t expect anything.
Truly, no one should feel entitled to anything. Arbitrarily deciding that you deserve something is dangerous. It’s a happiness death wish. You aren’t owed anything, no matter who you are.
Sometimes, you have to do the grunt work. It isn’t fun or glamorous, but it always pays off in the end (both figuratively and literally).