The Evolving Career of the Millennial

Skylar Wooden and Katie Butler

December 12, 2016

As millennials, we often hear ourselves described as entitled by older generations. Do we put off an air of entitlement? Possibly so. But, it’s not entitlement they’re seeing. Karl Moor, Forbes Contributor, writes, “Young people, as we are already aware, have voices. Their thoughts may not be as fine-tuned as their managers’, but their ideas are more innovative.”

Previous generations were taught to sit back and learn. Millennials are taught to contribute. If we don’t, we face the workforce leaving us behind. We have big ideas and we want our employers to hear them. We understand that simply because someone is older does not mean that their ideas are always better. While this may make us seem entitled, we feel it’s our duty to contribute what we can. So, why don’t people look up to us? We’re brilliant (how’s that for entitlement?).

We just aren’t there yet. We’re in our stepping stones.

Here’s the problem with saying the words “stepping stone”: you’re suggesting that you’re going to step off the stone.

It’s okay to entertain the idea that you won’t stay at your current job forever. Take comfort in the fact that your employer has realistic expectations. They’ve been exactly where you are, and most are not still working for the company that gave them their first job.

In a previous post, Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable, we discuss what feelings of discomfort can teach you. In this instance, you may feel that this job might not be one you stick with. While you’re trying to understand those feelings, here are four things you can do in the meantime:

1. Appreciate your current job.

You owe an immense amount of gratitude to your first employer and to your team. People in your company shape the way you see the world, regardless of your field. Appreciate that everyone you meet and everything you do is valuable to your experience.

2. Evaluate your skills to know what you’re qualified for.

You’ve learned tools that are valuable to other companies, no matter the level of your current job. Consistently check sites like Indeed and LinkedIn, whether you’re actively looking for a new position or not. Pay close attention to the qualifications of the jobs you’re interested in. This will help you see what you’re qualified for and be aware of what you should learn.

3. Know that it’s okay to think about moving on.

When staying in one career puts you in a box, it’s time to think about moving on. If a company truly appreciates growth, they will appreciate that you are constantly dreaming. Your employer may subtly (and not always intentionally) send the message that you won’t find a better job or that you have an obligation to your position. Expand your comfort zone. Always dream about what your future could look like.

4. Create a 5-year plan.

It is more than acceptable to think about what your next step will be. You’ll find that it’s much easier to think about your next step if you know your future goals. Where do you see yourself in five years? You may not know exactly, but vague ideas are helpful also. Do you want to live in a certain city? Move fields? Go back to school? Having a better understanding of where you’re going will help you see your next logical steps.

It can be tough when you realize that you may not stay in your current job. You may feel like you’re hiding your search for opportunity from your friends, leadership, and coworkers. You’re not alone. It’s uncomfortable for everyone. What’s in your 5-year plan? Lookout for our review of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

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