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A message to baby boomers from a millennial: Why can't we be friends?

As a young, wide-eyed accountant starting his career and stepping into the real world, I have found myself trying to develop a routine to try to keep up with the ever-changing, fast-paced world that we live in. This routine involves an early morning shower and shave, getting into work around 8 a.m., grabbing a cup of coffee, and catching up on the news.

Now, I try to get my news from a wide variety of sources to keep myself from adopting any biases. I'll admit I have my favorites, but I find using multiple sources keeps me best informed on current economic, social, and political issues. Regardless of which source I use, over the past two weeks I have noticed a serious trend in the opinion section of major news sources (my favorite section). More and more frequently I see articles with titles that read along the lines of "Why Millennials are Poor Employees" and "Why Gen-Yer's are a Drain on the Economy" and so on.


Joseph Skarbek
Source: Joseph Skarbek
Joseph Skarbek

A second common trend about these opinion pages is that these same articles are written by Baby Boomers going on and on about how Millennials don't understand the work ethic it took in the "good 'ol days" or the laziness and "get rich quick" attitudes of those in my generation. While I will be one of the first to tell you that many in our selfie-taking, Snapchatting generation do need to get it together, there are a lot of us who are looking you boomers and asking "What about us?"

To start, I'm upset with the stigma and the derogatory nuance in the way some use the word "millennials," like it's some sort of horrid disease that those who were unfortunate enough to be born from 1980 to 1995 or so happened to catch.

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The No. 1 complaint I hear about millennials is the lack of work ethic and the attitude that we deserve the fast pass to success that we as a group tend to give off. We'll I'm here to tell you that I know for a fact that those naysayers are wrong, at least for a chunk of those apart of the "thumb generation."

"I'm upset with the stigma and the derogatory nuance in the way some use the word 'millennials,' like it's some sort of horrid disease that those who were unfortunate enough to be born from 1980 to 1995 or so happened to catch." -Joe Skarbek

I've personally witnessed many ages 18-22 (those in college or other types of school) spend countless sleepless nights working there millennial behinds off just to make the most out of their $150,000 education — the same education that boomers could've gotten for somewhere in the vicinity of 10 grand. Now I'm not writing this to argue politics, and bring up the age-old arguments of the ever-growing student-loan bubble and inconsistent wage growth versus percent growth in CPI. I'm writing this to let baby boomers know that there are some of us out there who are willing to work hard and wait our turn for success. Not only will many millennials make good employees, we will make great employees and I'm confident in my generation to build and mold political, social and economic leaders that even baby boomers can be proud of.

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In fact, the elders of our world today can thank millennials for a lot. For starters, we have subsidized (and will continue to subsidize) at least a portion of an entire generation's retirement (I'm looking at you, Dad). Whether you stand on the right or left, that fact will seemingly be true for at least the foreseeable future.

Second, I don't think it's outrageous to say that we have enabled technology and technological advances to be as popular and useful as they are among baby boomers. A quick Google search will show that a large chunk (anywhere from 35 percent to 55 percent) of those above the age of 50 use smartphones, and while I tend to believe it's the latter percentage that is more accurate, 35 percent is still a sizeable amount especially when you consider how many of those above the age of 50 are retired or nearing retirement (therefore having less of a need for a smartphone).

Lastly, we as a generation have the burden of beginning our real-world lives and careers in one of the worst economic times the U.S. has ever seen. And while I will be the first one to say that this should never, EVER be used as an excuse, it is a fact, and a fact that we need to live with and help pull not only the United States, but the global economy, out of.

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I'm not writing this to try to pick a fight or disparage those of the baby boom generation. In fact, most of my values and beliefs have in some way, shape or form spun off from my parents, and I am very grateful for that. I am mostly expressing my feelings on this subject because I think that both generations can learn from each other. We, as the new generation entering the workforce, can learn and grow from the hard-work-and-grit attitude of the baby boomers and they can benefit from the hard skills and fast-paced mindset of millennials. We can afford to learn that it does pay to stay the path and pay our dues, just as they can afford to understand that keeping the status quo isn't always the way to go.

The world has plenty to be proud of when it comes to the growth and leadership of millennials. We have produced many who fight for social justice issues. These include celebrities like Malala Yousafzai and Emma Watson who stand up for issue's like women's rights. We have produced entrepreneurial geniuses like Mark Zuckerberg. We have shown the world model athletes like Mike Trout and Mo'ne Davis for young boys and girls to look up to. Lastly, we have shown the world that we are ready and capable to make important political decisions, most recently exemplified by the Scotland Independence election. I'm certainly not saying that Generation Y produces the model citizens that the future hopes for, but I am saying that there is a whole lot to be proud of.

Commentary by Joe Skarbek, a May 2014 graduate from the University of Dayton. He now works in public accounting in Columbus, Ohio. Follow him on Twitter @averagejoeskarb.