According to Pew Research Center tabulations of Census Bureau population figures, the generation known as the “Millennials” is facing a milestone year in 2015. During this year, the population of people roughly born between 1981 and 1997 will officially overtake the “Baby Boomers” as the nation’s largest living generation. Bookended by students entering college and adults facing family and job pressures, the Millennials are taking on life’s challenges with their own unique spin. With the U.S. economy beginning to pull out of its tailspin, here are a few of the money and mental factors that will affect the newest majority generation:
• The Student Loan Elephant: It’s the elephant behind every discussion about Millennials and their need for an advanced education to get a better paying job. Much of this education is being funded by a strong reliance on student loans. Not that there is anything wrong with using student loans as part of a college financial aid package, but a huge portion of this generation graduated just as the job market collapsed. Unable to find high-paying jobs they were unable to deal with their student loans. Now that there is over a trillion dollars outstanding, a great deal of attention is being paid to the entire student loan process. Millennials who have already graduated will need to familiarize themselves with income-based repayment plans, while parents of students who are just entering college will have to keep an eye on changing regulations.
• The Itch to Switch: Once older Millennials do manage to find a job, they often get bored easily. Contrary to their older colleagues who find a job for life, they often believe that they should only stay with a company for a year or two before moving on to the next opportunity. This constant need to find something new may impact their ability to pay off their student loans or to save money for a home. Instead of moving from one company to another, though, some Millennials are now searching for job diversity within their current organizations.
• Communication is Hard: For a connected generation that likes selfies, Facebook, and Twitter, Millennials often find it difficult to communicate in person with their co-workers. PR News says that they should not fall victim to Millennial-shaming, but should instead learn to bolster their statements with facts and learn to communicate better in-person in order to increase collaboration with older co-workers. An attitude adjustment and a willingness to learn can go a long way towards establishing and building workplace relationships.
What lessons can the older Millennials impart to their younger cohorts? Perhaps they might recommend taking steps to maximize college financial aid and scholarships, or learning to compare the pros and cons of federal and private student loans. They might say that building people and communication skills in college is just as important as learning about your major. These lessons are important, as they will have an impact on individuals and society as well.