New College Grads Get It Right About Work

I am a Gen X’er. Inscribed in my DNA is a need to believe Millenials are just faking it when it comes to substance and integrity. But my cynical heart is always warmed (and a little surprised) by how fundamentally different they are from X’ers and Boomers. They have shockingly solid character traits and high-levels of self-awareness. At a time when everyone over 40 seems unable to grasp that things in this world really need fixing, they do. And they are willing to do the work.

Take the most recent data from the Accenture Strategy 2016 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study on college grads and what they are looking for in an employer:

“The class of 2016 is especially passionate and seeking a fulfilling employee experience in their first job,” said David Smith, senior managing director, Accenture Strategy. “They are increasingly looking at workplace culture, and benefits other than salary, as important factors when making career decisions.”

These Millenials are really smart. For instance:

  • Only 1 in 7 want to work for a large company
  • They don’t want to get lost in the maze of large company politics & advancement
  • They are looking for purpose and connection to something larger than themselves in their work

“Passion” is mentioned over and over in the Accenture survey. Millenials want a marriage between their passions and their work. They are willing to take a job for less money if it means they get to do that. They will work hard, but only when they get to feel ownership for their job and empowerment in making decisions.

Accenture’s survey results could not be more timely as they coincide with the release of former Credit Suisse trader, Sam Polk’s new memoir, For The Love Of Money. Polk’s tale is about a meteoric rise in trading that nearly destroyed him. Polk talks about the $2 million salary that just didn’t seem like enough and the addictions that couldn’t fill the holes in his life. He left just in time to save himself. He writes:

“The catalyst for my leaving was that voice inside me calling for a more meaningful life finally became louder than the voice that was afraid of leaving and desperate for more money,” Polk said.

Today Polk runs two non-profits:

Groceryships which works in low-income communities to improve long-term health and wellness.

Everytable which sells fresh and affordable meals for everyone.

He says he has never been happier.

So X’ers and Boomers take note; the Millenials really do have it figured out when it comes to work.