Preface: My mission with the blog is to try to get more young people to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice, because I know it is possible and my partners and I are living proof of it. I definitely definitely am not advocating that a sense of entitlement is a good thing for anyone of any age. From all of the nasty emails I’ve received related to this post I completely realize I did a horrible job of getting that point across. At the time I wrote this post I was pretty fired up. That said, I’ve decided to leave it up because I think it’s the right thing to do. For the most part, I still feel the same way…I just wish I said it differently. My main point is/was – I don’t understand why companies don’t treat everyone’s thoughts, ideas, and talents as equal regardless of age. Personally, I didn’t have the opportunity to compete in my job because of my age/experience, but by running my own company I’m able to do so. If I stuck around and “paid my dues” I wouldn’t be running my dream company today. You’re entitled to feel differently, but please respect my opinion to feel this way.
Lately I’ve been reading quite a bit about our generations’ “undeserved sense of entitlement.” Quite frankly it pisses me off and I want to set the record straight. First was an article in Inc Magazine where a manager asked how to manage “young workers who have an inflated sense of entitlement”, followed by a story on Employee Evolution about managers who want employees to conform to their standards of security (wife, house, kids, etc) to trap them into “needing” their job. Both show a blatant misunderstanding of our generation.
More so than the average post, this one is solely based upon how I’ve seen the world through my eyes. For a 25 year old, I have considerable professional experience, particularly in the role of the “young professional” from my two internships and one co-op in college, and my one year in the working world as an engineer. That said, I’m pretty sure what I’m about to say applies to every industry, not just web development and engineering. I’m convinced that people are looking at this 180 degrees the wrong way. From my experiences, it is the older generation of management that has an undeserved sense of entitlement.
Experience in life and in business is invaluable. But so is a complete understanding of the latest technology. I’m sorry to point out the obvious, but our generation runs circles around previous ones and makes up for the lack of experience tenfold. An engineering student from a top school knows the ins and outs of every latest and greatest piece of software available. All of the places I worked it was OUR generation that was teaching the older generation more efficient uses of THEIR technology. I’m sure the same applies to just about any industry – everything can be improved with technology in one form or another, and that’s where we have the upper hand.
Subsequently, our most skilled ProENGINEER (3D Modeling software) and Minitab (statistical modeling software) professionals were the students who just arrived fresh from college. The students just spent years learning from some of the best professors in the world, pushing each other to learn the limits of the software for challenging exams. When they arrived at our company, they suddenly realized that they were leaps and bounds ahead of the veteran engineers. Therefore they were able to produce far more structurally sound designs in far less time.
Here’s what it boils down to for me – I don’t give a flying f*ck about your previous experience if it isn’t relevant to the current and future business economy. The majority of business knowledge from the 70’s, 80’s, and even 90’s is largely useless in today’s economy and the economy of tomorrow. Therefore, the majority of your prior experiences are largely inapplicable to today’s business world. And if that’s the case, you have to ask yourself – who has the skillset to compete in the future economy? Who has the ability to quickly learn and process massive amounts of information, and make quick decisions using the best tools available? Who is the most comfortable with change? The answers to all of those questions are, in my opinion, my generation…and it’s not even close.
Maybe those who manage recent college grads should worry less about molding us into the next “them”, and focus more on harnessing the skills of their young talent to help grow their company for the future.