Millennials get a lot of press lately – most of it bad. This generation of new and recent college grads keeps on making headlines for its staggering student loan debt, problems fitting into the working world, and lack of interest in traditional “adult” goals.
But many Millennials are turning those very negatives into positives, with a rising interest in entrepreneurship that could change the American economic landscape forever.
The Millennials – those born between about 195 and 2005, make up the largest demographic group n the US today. Their numbers eclipse even those of the legendary Baby Boomers born in the surge of domesticity and prosperity that followed the Second World War.
Today’s Millennials are the children and grandchildren of that famous generation, which made its own much-publicized mark on the American cultural scene by challenging traditional attitudes about sex and identity. Like their parents and grandparents, today’s Millennials face criticism from an “establishment” that sees them as selfish, uncommitted and ignorant of the protocols of adult life.
It’s true, many milennials are leaving school with thousands of dollars worth of student loan debt. Because of that, many are opting to live at home or with friends to save money. The employment picture is muddy for these new graduates, too. Many can’t find jobs in their fields – or jobs at all.
Employers complain that Millennials don’t fit the workplace. They don’t understand work culture and traditional expectations for the 9 to 5 world. They’re more likely to jump from job to job, ignore unwritten “rules” and show little interest in getting ahead. That means that as a group, they’re also delaying the traditional milestones of adulthood: buying homes, getting married and having children. That is, if they pursue the se things at all.
And just like previous generations did with the Millennials’ Boomer parents and grandparents, today’s traditionalists despair, dismissing these new grads as a lost generation with no hope of achieving what their parents did.
But do they want to? Not necessarily. Just ask Brian Maida, a New Jersey native profiled in a recent article from Next Shark. At the tender age of 27, he’s a flourishing real estate investor, who spent two years post-college living at home to save up the $14,000 that would let him buy his first property. Leveraging that investment, he bought another – and is now on track to purchasing his third rental property.
Maida isn’t alone. According to a recent Huffington Post article, 60% of Millennials consider themselves entrepreneurs – and fully 90% recognize entrepreneurship as a mentality. The reasons for these attitudes may have their roots in the 2008 housing collapse and overall economic downturn that followed, when jobs were scarce and unreliable and owning a home didn’t really offer any security for the future.
That made creating your own job a more attractive possibility – and it takes those often criticized attitudes toward work and the o-called adult world to make it work. Living at home allows new entrepreneurs to save money and incubate startups. Rejecting the stereotype of the workplace opens the door for new ideas and innovative approaches. And the Millennials’ much-publicized love of technology gives thee new endeavors global reach.
The rise of the millennial entrepreneur has implications for the US economy overall – and for the ideals its culture holds dear. Why bother with college if you can start your own company with the click of a mouse? And why bother with traditional workplace protocols when your job may well disappear in another recession?
Home ownership is at a twenty year low, with little likelihood of rising much, since Millennials choosing to live on their own are opting to rent. Many of them are skipping car ownership entirely. And marriage and family are going on hold – for many, permanently, with implications for retail, education and employment.
Entrepreneurial startups may open new doors for everyone, with opportunities for employment of a different kind and new contributions to the economy in the form of new products and services. While not all Millennials are opting to strike out on their own, the impact of a wave of entrepreneurship by people in their twenties could last for decades.
Like their parents and grandparents, the Milennisals are defying cultural norms. And like the Baby Boomers, too, the attitudes and choices these young people make have the potential to change the social and economic landscape in ways that can affect everyone – for many years to come. (Top image Flickr/StependePolo)
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The American Monetary Association Team