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Young Professionals – Ambitious vs. Entitled

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Ambition - Aspire to climb as high as you can dream

I previously blogged about Twitter Chats and the many benefits that can arise from participating in these networking events.  One chat that I particularly enjoy is the U30Pro (under 30 professionals) chat.  Although I haven’t been able to participate recently, I always review the chat transcripts and read the digest which is communicated via email.

The last digest that was emailed with the #u30pro chat highlights was for the discussion of “Ambitious vs. Entitled.”  My attention was INSTANTLY diverted toward the digest.  I love this topic, so I thought it would be fun to give my opinions to the prompts since I was not able to participate in the chat.  Below are the given prompts and my responses:

So, which is it? Is Gen Y entitled or ambitious?

Gen Y – according to my opinion – is entitled.  In my parents generation, college wasn’t the norm.  College was truly exceptional and it was only for those who were incredibly serious about their education and their future.  For example, it was more valued for my dad to work in the family business than to get a quality education.  It was HIS choice to further his education.  College for my generation is not exceptional – it’s expected.  I knew classmates who barely graduated high school, however their parents forced them to apply to the University or TMCC while paying for them to get C and D grades.  At this point – it is no longer an opportunity.

This is entitlement.  We no longer view college as being for the elite, however we view it as the new High School Diploma.  The graduate degree is the new college degree.

In addition, we are being told by our parents “If you get this degree, you will be making 6 figures.”  We feel entitled to a hefty salary right out of college based on our parents advice.  Yes we are entitled – but it is the direct result of how we have been raised.

Why do older generations consider Geny Y entitled?

I feel as though this could be answered several ways, however the first thing that would come to mind is technology.  My step-dad always mentions how he couldn’t “Google” the definition to something – he had to look it up in the dictionary.  To older generations, we don’t understand and value the wealth of information we have at our fingertips from internet technology.

How can you stay ambitious and confident without being looked at as entitled?

Those who feel entitled do not go above and beyond.  They wait for opportunities to come to them as opposed to seeking out and researching new opportunities.  They don’t put in the extra effort because they’re entitled to their salary/wages – they shouldn’t have to “earn” them.  To stand out as being ambitious and confident we need to continue being hard workers and producing valuable effort.  We need to start our professions as early as we can while our entitled counterparts spend the evenings partying and sleeping in late.  Our actions will portray our work ethic.  Those we work with will know we are not “entitled” but rather ambitious and confident.

What will you tell someone that calls GenY entitled?

I’d tell someone that our actions and behaviors are direct results of the way we are raised.  It is our opportunity to change our entitled behavior to show others that we are appreciative of the opportunities we have worked hard for.

Your turn!  If you’re a young professional or GenX with a blog, I’d love if you could answer these 4 questions in a blog post or as a comment.  Send me your blog and I’d love to read your answers!

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12 responses »

  1. Sean Breslin

    Gen Y is completely entitled…I agree with you. However, I come from a background that is slightly different, and I think it has driven me to be different.

    I was the first person from my family to graduate from college, so I think I have always viewed it as a privilege and not a given. But 99 percent of people out there view it as a right (those protests in California a while back where kids stood outside and proclaimed that their college education was a right irritated me), and that’s why the sense of entitlement comes out in the workplace.

    But as someone who has never expected anyone to hand me anything, I can see in my employers just how refreshed they are to have me, and I think I have done small things to change the stereotype about Gen Y with the people who know me.

    • Sean – your background reminds me of my parents background (and a good portion of Gen X). It was an opportunity for you to go to college… like you said, “It’s a privilege and not a given.” Just as long as our employers can identify the differences between entitled and ambitious, I’ll be content 🙂

      Thanks for your input, Sean!

  2. I completely agree that GenY is entitled rather than ambitious. It seems that every young person coming out of the thousands of universities and colleges across the country think they deserve a six-figure salary off the bat. A lot of these kids don’t understand that there are many other people who have graduated a few years before you, have kept up with technology, and are much more experienced. Maybe the schools should teach how to show the employers why you are worth more than other employees… but they can only do that by being ambitious.

    • I think part of the problem is the way our parents raise us, and the other part is what the schools are teaching us. I completely agree with you that schools should educate their soon-to-be graduates a little more about the realities of having a degree and the work/effort it takes to start “living the good life.”

      Thank you for the comment!!

  3. I’ve live out of the USA close to 10 years now. I’m a gen X’er… I guess. But what I see from China-side is the world getting smaller and young adults in the States are no longer competing with just themselves, but now the whole world, specifically China and India.

    What sets you apart? Why will any company care about you? Or do you know enough to start your own company? How many languages do you speak? Can you travel on your own and in countries/atmospheres not as comfortable as where you’re from?

    I agreed with the above line that the “graduate degree” is the new college. But I tell you from the perspective of “Global” and owning my own business, all the college and “degree” in the world won’t cut it if you’re not willing to work and work, show up, listen. A willingness to learn, work hard and endure lower salary to start for longer-term good can sometimes be more valuable than experience.

    Just my two cents: thanks for allowing me to share Ashley, enjoyed the post.

    • Thank you!! I am so glad you brought this up- having a degree doesn’t qualify you for the job, it’s just the foot in the door. The degree can only get you so far – it’s your work ethic and eagerness to learn that earn you success within a company. My generation doesn’t understand this!! “I studied management so naturally, I’d be a good manager” is the common mentality of my peers. It’s the experience that makes you a good manager, the degree is merely a qualification.

      Thank you for your comment and for contributing to this post! I really appreciate it!

  4. Nice to make your acquaintance. Think you’re spot on and want to add to how we get past entitlement issues. Anyone try to work in a group school project? It’s called the real world and most things worth doing are hard to start and impossible to finish.

    • I think group projects are a good way to prepare someone for working in teams, but the real world is far more complicated than a simple due date of a final project. Most things are definitely hard to start, and it takes a motivated and dedicated person to finish them. Thank you for your input, Jay!

      • Yes. I graduated from the University of Phoenix and University of Nevada.
        Group projects at Nevada reflected your “due date” caution. At Phoenix, I worked with many of the same people from assignment to assignment in class and from class to class. They formalize the long term relationship into 30% of assignments – one of the aspects of that program that helped me the most.
        At my new company, I’m trying to use some of those tech advantages and culture among the technicians who become involved. For example, my website is going to need a lot of teamwork lol. Waiting to start that project for a state real estate license to be approved.

      • Websites definitely need a lot of team work and collaboration. Luckily, the output of a well put together website can have amazing results for the company. Good luck!

  5. I was probably raised a bit differently than most, as I was raised on a farm and in a rural area. I may still expect more things than previous generations sometimes, but then don’t our expectations seem to increase with each generation?

    I was also the first in my immediate family to go to college, but it seems that my younger brothers are all doing the same. It’s because we want to though, but because we’re being pushed.

    • Anna – I think that is great that you’re the first in your family to go to college, what an accomplishment! I do agree that each generation expects more than possibly the previous generation, but it almost seems as though GenY tends to not appreciate the opportunities we are given as much as maybe we should.
      Thank you for visiting my blog, Anna!


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