NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Lazy. Entitled. Impatient.
These are several of the accusations made of a generation of millennials in or entering the workforce.
Some accuse millennials of too much job-hopping.
A millennial who’s heard that before is Andrea Jones-Rooy. She was a professor of political science at Carnegie Mellon University and New York University Shanghai — before she became a circus performer.
These days, she is a political science researcher, trapeze artist, fire breather, and stand-up comedian.
“If there were a job where I could jump around onstage and talk about social science, I would do it,” Jones-Rooy said.
“I just get bored if I just do one thing. And there’s something very thrilling and appealing about the physicality of circus that’s very much the opposite of sitting in front of a spreadsheet.”
Why not stay on a single career path?
“There’s too many different things to do to just do one thing,” she said.
As millennials like Jones-Rooy reshape the workforce, the traditional workplace is being reshaped too.
“The new generation is not tied to a desk, as probably the older generations were,” said Kelcia Azevedo, head of property for an international bank in New York City.
“What they’re looking for [are] choices, flexibility, and experience.”
Millennials are looking past the cubicle.
Azevedo says a millennials want “an area for team collaboration, or an area for brainstorming, standing desks, fixed desks.”
These workplace solutions “actually promote better productivity,” she said.
As offices and workspaces change to suit millennials, what happens to businesses that don’t?
Jon Wu, a real estate investor, questions the charge that millennials are “killing” certain industries.
“The CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings or Applebee’s blaming millennials for their product not landing with the new generation, that’s a little bit like the milkman from the 1950s blaming cartons of milk for disrupting their industry,” he said. “I think that’s just bad business. It has nothing to do with millennials being different. It just has to do with tastes changing over time.”
Wu sees a lack of understanding of millennials as an age-old cycle in action.
“If you think about the boomer generation not understanding millennials, it has less to do with millennials being a unique group of young people and more to do with the fact that they are just young people,” he said. “Older generations don’t understand young people, and that’s always been true.”
Do millennial workers deserve the “lazy” label?
Wu isn’t so sure.
“And so, is it that millennials aren’t doing a good job adapting to the modern economy, or is it the fact that the modern economy has failed millennials?”
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