The ‘Trophy Kids’ Go To Work

First off, go and read this article: The ‘Trophy Kids’ Go to Work on the WSJ website. Then once completed, come back to this post. This post is my reflections on it. Thanks to @MonFineis for sharing it.


(Warning: this is going to be a rant, so it may get long, but I hope you will read it all and comment!)

My first off response is that they are truly hating on any recent college graduates trying to find a job and start their careers. There are some points within the article that I agree with and then there are some that are just way out there and you can tell the comments come from someone who is A) old enough to be my parents, B) had their job for a while, and C) is set in the mindset of never changing.

If there is one overriding perception of the millennial generation, it’s that these young people have great — and sometimes outlandish — expectations. Employers realize the millennials are their future work force, but they are concerned about this generation’s desire to shape their jobs to fit their lives rather than adapt their lives to the workplace.

Can we say work/life balance?? I mean come on. The days of young professionals going to work for a company and planning on staying there for the rest of their lives is over. The average person now probably changes jobs every 5 years, just like buying a new car. Young professionals do not want to work 60-80 work weeks constantly and have nothing to show for it. Working my ass off to make money for someone else and only getting my normal salary is not going to cut it. If you want me to work hard for you, you have to work hard for me – provide excellent benefits, incentives to work hard/meet deadlines, offer flexible working hours, compensate for overtime, offer competitive vacation time, have a relaxed workplace – the list could go on and on and on!

More than 85% of hiring managers and human-resource executives said they feel that millennials have a stronger sense of entitlement than older workers, according to a survey by

I don’t think it is neccessarily that millennials feel entitled to everything and anything, but it is that they know what they want, have goals, and want to achieve them. That’s part of the American Dream isn’t it? If you as an employeer are not going to support that, then why should a millennial want to work for you?

The generation’s greatest expectations: higher pay (74% of respondents); flexible work schedules (61%); a promotion within a year (56%); and more vacation or personal time (50%).

I agree with these stats except for I find it hard to believe that 56% of the survey population expected a promotion within a year. Millennials know that hard work is involved with getting ahead. I would hope that the majority of us know that this just isn’t going to happen overnight. Let’s be real though – the cost of living is skyrocketing in all the major cities where the majority of jobs are. In order for us to live and be able to afford A) a vehicle, B) food, and C) housing (renting or buying) then the pay needs to reflect that and be competitive with other companies. In my local area in Maryland, there is no way that a fresh college graduate is going to purchase a house right away, it just isn’t going to happen. The average single family home price is probably at least $400K with more and more $800K plus “estates” being built day after day. Developers are struggling to sell these houses but still keep building them instead of building condos, townhouses, apartment complexes, and smaller more affordable houses. The average townhouse in my area is probably $350k (a little more reasonable but still not great). If the costs of living continue to rise, salaries need to keep rising too.

The article says that you should be blaming parents, teachers, and coaches for millennial’s wanting to be able to be casual at work, enjoy their time in the office, and have a flexible work schedule. What a crock of shit. It says that we are the pride and joy of our parents and this is a problem…so you mean to tell me you wouldn’t want the best for your children and for them to be successful in whatever they did? School? Sports? Music? Plays? Competitions? Work?

Now I don’t think you can take ALL the blame off of someones parents because they do play a part in the mindset, but not 100% as the article suggests. In reference to teachers not usinig red ink on grading papers, the ink color doesnt matter – red, blue, purple, black – a failing grade is a failing grade no matter what color ink it is in. But back to parents, with my generation, they have been giving too much to their kids. The perfect example of this is when a teenager turns 16 and can drive. Parents are giving their kids a BMW, a Lexus, a Hummer, etc rather than a Honda or Toyota. How can a kid expect anything less than the best when the parents push the best onto them in the form of gifts, this leads to that expectation later in life. This is one part of the article that I agree with. Some of the problems stem from the parents not teaching their children what it means to work hard, be motivated, have respect, and work for what you get.

Millennials also expect a flexible work routine that allows them time for their family and personal interests. “For this generation, work is not a place you go; work is a thing you do,” says Kaye Foster-Cheek, vice president for human resources at Johnson & Johnson.

I don’t think it is so much a flexible work routine that millennials are looking for but more the ability to be flexible if needed. Giving someone full freedom to come and go as works best for them and giving someone the chance to coming early so they can leave early or take an hour off here or there are different things. Doesn’t everyone want to be able to spend time with their family and on their own interests? To you Ms. Foster-Cheek, I can imagine you like spending time with your family just as much as I do and take advantage of every chance you get, so do not try to say that it is just something the younger generation does while people your age work away in the office late into the night.

These outspoken young people tend to be highly opinionated and fearlessly challenge recruiters and bosses. Status and hierarchy don’t impress them much. They want to be treated like colleagues rather than subordinates

Is there all of the sudden an issue with speaking your mind, sharing your concerns, and trying to help advance the business? If we just sit by and ignore anything that is wrong or could be done better, then failure for the department, business segment, or company can not be far away. baby boomers sure are not going to ‘go up against the man’ because they are ready to retire and can not take that risk. But if a millennial speaks up and happens to save your business thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars, I am sure you will appreciate the hell out of them for doing so!

One of the final lines that I like the best out of this article is:

In the final analysis, the generational tension is a bit ironic. After all, the grumbling baby-boomer managers are the same indulgent parents who produced the millennial generation.

If you don’t like what you are seeing within your company, then take a look at your home life and parenting. You are probably doing the exact same thing in your personal life that you hate at your work life.

What do you guys think? Am I way off base here? I’d love to see some comments on the topic and get some great discussion going!

I’m also interesting in reading any other articles similar to this on or on this topic, so if you have seen anything, leave a link to it!

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14 Responses to The ‘Trophy Kids’ Go To Work

  1. Shannon October 25, 2008 at 2:15 pm #

    “But back to parents, with my generation, they have been giving too much to their kids. The perfect example of this is when a teenager turns 16 and can drive. Parents are giving their kids a BMW, a Lexus, a Hummer, etc rather than a Honda or Toyota.”

    Your rationale exposes you as a millennial brat. What happened to kids actually working to pay for a USED car themselves rather than expecting to have their parents buy them one at all.

  2. Deborah October 25, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    Although I know that the millenials are being hit rather hard lately (this article is one of many, and one cannot ignore the rather harshly titled book “The Dumbest Generation”) I am excited to see the debate hitting so many nerves, on both sides of the conversation. It’s important for millenials to understand how they are being viewed, so that if they wish to combat it, they will be empowered to do so. Likewise, it’s refreshing to see so many rebuttals written by well-educated millenials in response to the criticism.

    I would consider myself concerned about how to integrate millenials into a work environment. I offer some examples of some of the challenges I face, but first some background.

    I’ve worked as a consultant in both technical and strategic capacities for many of the country’s largest companies. Because of the nature of our work, our employees have that C-level visibility that many don’t. It’s therefore expected that given that visibility, they also come prepared to present themselves accordingly. And this is where my dificulties have arisen.

    Please bear in mind that these examples do not represent every millenial, because that would be unkind and false, but recognize that the statistical numbers of examples I have makes it hard to believe that I’ve found the few bad apples in the bunch. In addition, I know that these jobs are sought after, so I rather suspect the oposite, that we’re getting the best of the bunch. (Or it’s possible that our recruiters have markedly declined in their ability to find good candidates.)

    Example #1: Last year I caught an employee playing WoW during work hours. He wasn’t actively playing, but merely accruing gold or experience (I apologize because WoW isn’t my thing so I really don’t remember exactly what he was doing). All he was doing was keeping the character active by periodically opening the screen to keep the character from going into away mode… and I GET THAT. On the list of things that someone could do it ranks WAY below embezlement or missing deadlines, or swearing at the client. But… it’s still not acceptable behavior. If you were caught napping on the job back in the day, you were reprimanded or fired. If you were caught playing solitaire a few years later, you were reprimanded or fired. So, if you get caught playing WoW expect to be reprimanded or fired.

    Since this employee’s desk was out in the wide open, it made it extremely likely that someone from the client would see him. Keep in mind the client was paying $200/hr for his services, plus hotel, per diem and flights every week.

    So the last thing I expected when I told him to stop playing WoW on company time, was to get a lengthy explanation of why it was OK to do so. Not an apology. Not an agreement to stop, but a long winded speech explaining the benefits of multitasking and how effective he was doing both.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know that running batch jobs on terrabytes of data takes forever and there’s a lot of downtime. I know that it’s boring. But if you want to get paid $200/hr you need to accept that professionalism goes a long way toward earning that salary. I can find one hundred idiots in another country to take that job for that rate. And to be honest, I’d rather give it to them.

    At a second client, after a lengthy discovery process, we found that a lot of the problems were attributable to really poor communication and a lack of a cohesive team. Basically, everyone hated each other, and no one was working well together. My Millenial’s recommendation for our summary report was that we just have one big slide that said “No TEAM”. And he was serious. Apparently, in his mind, people would pay $400K to find out they had no team. Yes, he accurately captured the issue and boiled it down to a fine point, but his result was sophomoric and negelected to take into account the attitudes of the board members we were going to present in front of – many of whom were not at all interested in team building.

    I agree with the comments about lateness. From my experience I feel like the whole millenial generation needs to join to military to learn how to tell time. When a meeting starts at 8:00 you need to be there at 8:00. If you’re late to my meetings, I kick you out. And if I don’t miss you not being there, if someone else can that easily take your place, then you’ll be the first on my list to let go.

    I also admonish any millenial to spend some time thinking about how they present themselves at work. I understand the belief that comfort is important when you’re sitting in front of a computer all day, but it’s simply gone too far. I don’t want to see ugly feet, butt cracks, or stomachs poking out. If you really cared about comfort, low-rise jeans would not be on the list because they’re one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever had to wear, and I’m thin. I can’t even imagine how awkward they are when a roll of your flesh is folding over them every time you sit down. Ugh! It’s just gross. As are flip flops when you don’t take the time for a proper pedicure. But I digress.

    Another topic that comes up frequently in defense of the millenials is the fact that they are so much more techno-savy than their elders and I’m calling that one crap. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that familiarity with computers equates to mastery. I’ve seen more sloppy work from people with more tools at their disposal than I can relate. Plus, the skills that are being touted aren’t even difficult. Configure a router, easy. Download and upload music and videos – my 4 year old neice can do it therefore – easy. Search the web for information -easy. Create only slightly challenging HTML code – easy.

    I’ve yet to see anyone illustrate that the millenials have a better mastery of the chemical principles of thin film vapor deposition, or supply chain economic theory, or quantum mechanics, or anything remotely challenging.

    So while it sounds like I’m ranting (and perhaps I am a little), it’s because I’m worried that this generation is mistaking a few mediocre skills for real capabilities. And in overestimating their abilities, they are setting themselves up for a lifetime of diminishing returns. Now is the time to stop patting yourselves on the back, read about what is going on in the world outside your country, and buckle down and do some work.

  3. Chris October 25, 2008 at 3:52 pm #

    Shannon – thanks for the comment. I can see how my response may have come off wrong. But be assured that I am not anywhere close to a brat. I am fortunate enough to have parents that been extremely successful in their niche and had the opportunity to provide things to me that others might not have been.

    However, by my comment I did not mean that parents should be giving away cars. When I wrote it, I was thinking used cars, but didn’t include the word.

    I know a lot of people just getting to driving age or that are my age (22) which had to either purchase their first car or had to pay their parents monthly to use a car. Yet there are many more parents that think it is easier to just provide than make their child work for something, I do agree with that!

  4. Chris October 25, 2008 at 9:01 pm #

    Wow Deborah, thanks for the long comment! I think you make some valid points – people playing/goofing around on the job, etc. From your email address (when I get a comment I see people’s email addresses) it looks like your Italy? I would like to hope that you have just had some bad experiences that have caused your opinions, but like I said, you made some very valid points. I’m just giving my feelings/reflections on the topics/points made in the article based on what I have done and the way that my friends, co-workers, other students act and work.

    If I caught someone playing WoW all day I’d fire them too and hope you did. You did say that you hope that your experiences don’t represent all millennials and that is important to bare in mind when you look at the number that you have interacted with vs. the population of us out there. It is possible you got the bad apples!

    Thanks for you HUGE comment, I really appreciate you taking the time to write it and hope that some more discussion will come from it!

  5. Michael Romanowicz October 25, 2008 at 9:29 pm #


    The kids are on the attack! Nice post my friend.

    Check out our response to the same article here:

    Drop me a line sometime. I think we might have a lot in common.

  6. Deborah October 25, 2008 at 9:54 pm #

    Chris – I have to say again that it is blogs like yours that are restoring my confidence in the years to come. I am finding that there are a lot of insightful discussions on this topic, among others. My email is indeed Italy for now at least. Feel free to email me there at any time if there’s ever anything you need help with. (I happen to be very very good at helping with resumes 🙂

  7. Monica October 26, 2008 at 1:10 am #


    I’m glad you wrote about this. My first reaction to the article was concern. I heard this generational complaint once before and had disregarded it because personally as a student, and as a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter and Senior Class Council at my university, we have always been commended by faculty and professionals. Then when I read the WSJ article, I realized this was something I should look into.

    First of all, I want to say that I am the first person in my family to go to college, and my family does not pay for my tuition, rent or any other expenses. I grew up not very well off and my parents were never involved in my schooling. In fact, when I got into the university of my choice, my dad hinted at not allowing me to go. This may make me different from a lot of the millennials because I was not given everything or doted on. Because of this, I am overly gracious and it’s hard for me to accept praise.

    But it’s ok. I’m in a great spot, I do love my parents and recognize they are very proud of me–this is not what this is about.

    It offends and shocks me that there are millennials out there who would act in ways described. It portrays all of us in a bad light.

    I believe in working hard, going the extra mile and sacrificing. Maybe it’s because the field of public relations is so competitive right now that I know I have to shine or else I could be easily replaced. I fully understand I have to “pay my dues” and do grunt work from time to time. I don’t expect excellent pay, benefits or flexibility YET. I know I have to work for it. I stay late regularly, work through my lunch hour even though I’m not getting paid, check and respond to work e-mails on days when I have class. And I have been recognized and awarded for my work.

    I can understand the frustration of professionals who feel a lack of respect from young workers, particularly when it contrasts from their experiences working as an up-and-coming professional. But I don’t believe they would think a kiss ass who never voices their opinion would be someone who take on a leadership role, either. Our generation is notable and powerful because we shake things up.

    With that being said, it is very important that millennials, myself included, remind ourselves of who we are. We are interns and entry-level workers. We don’t know everything and we aren’t equal to executives or supervisors. We may think we’re smarter than others, and if we are, it will surely be found out.

    Sorry for the long comment!

    Deborah, thank you for sharing your experiences, I hope I gave you a little more confidence in our generation! 🙂

  8. Deborah October 26, 2008 at 9:53 am #

    Monica, Thanks for another beautifully crafted defense of your generation. You have given me some peace of mind. I, like everyone else, have been watching the international markets with some irritation, and thinking that we’d have to rebuild that wealth with the people portrayed in articles lately was a bit overwhelming. I think, however, that much of the writting was deliberately inflamatory, and fed on an older generation’s innate belief that they are the only ones who know how to work. I have received much evidence to the contrary, and I am excited about our prospects. Best wishes to you.

  9. YoungMoneyTalks October 27, 2008 at 4:09 pm #

    Chris, how funny, I just saw this post today. We must be on the same wavelength because I posted about the same WSJ article before I saw yours. I would be interested to know what you think of my take on it…

  10. Adam October 27, 2008 at 8:43 pm #

    Its funny. Like others I was about to post the same type of rant.

    I am glad other people feel the same way.

  11. cashcrate review May 10, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    Great post! I read your other posts as well and I subscribed to your RSS Feed!

  12. matthew hepler June 29, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

    The view of millenialers is skewed greatly. I would say that as a whole we are significantly more savvy at our newly acquired line of work than the previous generation when they entered the workforce. When you read this, keep in mind the inflation in skills and knowledge required to do modern jobs, and the fact that our generation is competing with the baby-boomers; the largest generation, that has been in the work force for 30 plus years, and did not have nearly the same level of competition from their parents generation. Technology has progressed so extremely with the advent of computers, that the level of education or knowledge required to succeed in the workforce is almost incomparable to that which was required when our parent’s generation began work, it took your generation 30 years to develop the skills to succeed, how could you possibly expect us to be as good right out of school. Furthermore, our generation does not like having to be financially dependent on our parents for longer, I for one loath it. However, due to price inflation, primarily because of the older generation’s bad credit habits, it is impossible for us to afford college tuition, or cars or rent until we are well out of school.

    The world we now live in has changed so significantly compared to what the baby boomers grew up in that they might never understand. I don’t see why it matters if somebody comes in at odd hours, because with the advent of internet/intranet the same work can easily be done from home or any other location, or at any time, and still be available to the rest of the team.

    I also don’t see why the older generation thought it was acceptable to ignore their children for work, most professionals I know do work 50-60 hours or more, and “make it up” to their children by buying them things. Why would our generation make the same mistake?


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