First, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am not officially authorized to speak on behalf of my generation.
However, I feel that many of my experiences and aspirations are similar to those of others who are graduating from college this spring.
Millennials are not all the selfish, me-first bunch as we are often portrayed. We are, however, impatient. For us, time is important. We have grown up in an environment of sound bites, 140-character Twitter posts and quickly-disappearing Instagram messages. For us, time is a precious commodity. The title of my commencement keynote speech is “The time is now.” In many ways, that is the theme of college graduates everywhere.
It is important to make the most of each moment and, as I share in my commencement address, to make a difference. At our best, we look to treat each day as a fleeting opportunity we can only experience once. We believe that today is our day, every day. So, yes, perhaps we are selfish in that regard, but in a good way. We value our time and want it to be invested and not just exhausted.
In terms of employment, we desire careers that can best be described as fulfilling.
In the workplace, we want to know “why” we are doing something as much as “what” we are doing. For the most part, we want the space and ability to be creative. Ours is not a 9-to-5 generation. Rather than being controlled by a time clock, we will work until the job is done, if necessary.
Also, we work best for bosses who are great motivators and who support our drive for open-mindedness and creativity. Along those lines, teamwork is important to us. While in college, I was fortunate to be selected captain of the varsity basketball team. Having experienced teamwork at that high of a level, it is not something I want to forsake, and most of my classmates also have an affinity for working collaboratively.
Further, our life is more than our livelihood. In breaking the image of self-centeredness, many of us have been involved in volunteerism and community service throughout high school and college. It is a part of our lives that we cherish and something we wish to continue. We will take our jobs seriously, and that is the number one priority while at work. However, we also take other aspects of our lives seriously. We understand the importance of striking a balance and taking time for developing friendships.
Also we are, overall, open-minded and value differences. For us, diversity is more than a catchphrase. Rather, it is the understanding that we need to understand those who look and think differently. Everyone in this world is unique, and everyone is important.
Times have changed since our parents began their careers, and there are some generational differences. Technology has made communication faster, and there are far more career paths to follow. This new generation is experiencing the most competitive job market there ever was because of the endless opportunities around us.
On the other hand, some things have not changed. We still put a premium on family, friendships and pursuing what is truly satisfying. Those qualities are timeless, and we learned many of them from our parents, mentors and others who have preceded us.
While I am not authorized to speak for my generation, I feel fortunate to be a part of it. As with my classmates, I am looking to be the best version of myself and making the most of my time.
Courtney Cramer has earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ohio Northern University. She is delivering the student address at the university’s commencement ceremony today. She is a graduate of Arcadia High School.