While thumbing through Upworthy‘s Facebook page, I stumbled across a recent article by HuffPost Impact which cited research published in 2012, “millennials aren’t all that interested in improving the world around them.”
As a millennial with a personal interest in volunteering and societal issues, I began to boil over in rage at another promotion of a generational stereotype to justify social inadequacies for an entire society.
This article doesn’t consider the volatile economic climate or the impact of years of war on millennials but rather quietly implies millennials are narcissistic and “preoccupied with money and fame.”
The article never considers the fact millennials have watched their parents return to work after retirement, live well below the standard of living they saved and invested for during retirement, or that many are unable retire as promised.
With this in mind, it can be understood why new college graduates are struggling for job placement with pay scales that do not provide an ability to repay their educational investments and why they are concerned with finding employment that offers security.
It also should be noted that traditional ways of measuring volunteerism and community concern is based on formulas of past generations, suggesting millennial efforts and concerns to improve their communities may be over looked by an outdated model.
One study found millennials are a “generation that experienced first-hand the toll of Boomer parents consumed by careers.”
“Millennials first support causes they are passionate about (rather than institutions).” And this is unsurprising given the political climate millennials have experienced.
Here is some other research results about that debunk millennial stereotypes:
Stereotype: Millennials only care about themselves.
Truth: Millennials want their time to have meaning and make a positive impact on society.
While most Millennials (74%) believe business is having a positive impact on society by generating jobs (48%) and increasing prosperity (71%), they think business can do much more to address society’s challenges in the areas of most concern: resource scarcity (68%), climate change (65%) and income equality (64%). Additionally, 50% of Millennials surveyed want to work for a business with ethical practices.
Stereotype: Millennials don’t volunteer or donate to charitable causes.
Truth: Millennials value education and dedicate their knowledge and time to their communities.
75 percent of young people donated to causes last year [ 2010] and 63 percent said they gave their time to volunteer. The survey polled 6,522 people between the ages of 20 and 35. Ninety-three percent had a bachelor’s degree and the majority did not have kids.
Stereotype: Millennials only care about money and are not as family oriented.
Truth: Mellennials understand the importance of stability and value family life.
Even though a career is defining for millennials, they value work-life balance. They want a rewarding career, but they also want a family. (The top-ranked milestones in our research were getting married, having a career and having children.) Keep in mind, this is a generation that experienced first-hand the toll of Boomer parents consumed by careers. They’re not eager to repeat this pattern. Millennials are looking for an employer that values balance.
Despite the disappointing millennial stereotype projected by the HuffPost article, the fact remains that successful societies include members who donate their time to community improvement. So please consider volunteering in your community for issues that matter to you personally.
Checkout VolunteerMatch.org for some opportunities in your area.