At 22, I am Cookerly’s youngest employee. My generation has been raised to toss out the old adage, “Good things come to those who wait.” Why wait for anything? There’s no need. We live off BlackBerries, drive-thrus and up-to-the-minute tweeting. We are truly the “click, skim, next” generation.
And while our multi-tasking works wonders in time-management, it becomes a hindrance in the job market. If something isn’t perfect – why bother staying? We are used to getting exactly what we want, and we’re always looking for the next best thing. We have become a group of graduates unable to embrace entry-level.
The bottom may not be glamorous, but it’s where we’re all headed after graduation. The sooner we realize that we have a lot to learn and dues to pay, the happier we’ll be.
I have heard it time and again from seasoned pros that young 20-somethings expect to have it all – and quickly. It is alarming (and quite frankly, embarrassing) to hear executives describe my generation. The following I’ve heard is enough to strike fear in the heart of any interviewee:
- They just expect to walk in the door, immediately be promoted to mid-level management and make VP by 30.
- None of them understand the concept of working your way up.
- There’s such a sense of entitlement; I don’t know how to understand them – let alone relate to them.
The same thing rings true with interns – old classmates discussed disappointment in their internships. They didn’t get to do “important” work or made little or no money. Those that walked in with realistic expectations were the happiest. A past professor’s advice always rings true, “Let’s be realistic – what is the purpose of an internship? It’s experience, a spot on your resume and a reference.”
This “I should get what I want because I want it” mentality was not my experience or perspective. I knew I had nowhere to go but up, and to do that I had to start at the bottom. I interned at Cookerly after my junior year of college, and I fully expected to spend all summer making copies and getting coffee. Every project made me more ecstatic as I gained experience. Throughout the summer I participated in client meetings, wrote media audits, managed publicity reports and interacted with every person on the staff. During time with senior management I would observe everything from messaging to mannerisms of those that had already proved themselves.
That summer, I knew I had found exactly what I wanted to do. One year later, I was lucky enough to return, and I knew I would start learning all over again.
Regardless of what you do or how you are compensated, take advantage of learning and make the most of where you are now.