There have been many labels thrust upon the Millennial generation, especially when it comes to their work ethic. The group has been called lazy, entitled, and spoiled—but at the same time the generation has also been heralded for its collective innovation and desire to work for something other than money.
While America may still not know quite how to pin down the drive and desires of this generation, it does seem that their views on jobs and careers differ from their Boomer parents and the Gen Xers who came just before them. The most recent Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll separated respondents into a younger group of those “just starting out” and an older group of participants who were more established in order to determine whether or not these groups saw things differently on a variety of issues. In many instances there are, in fact, generational differences in perspective, but on some questions, Americans aren’t quite as far apart as they might seem.
When asked what their primary concern was during their first job, about 64 percent of older Americans talked about making as much money as possible or learning new skills. When asked the same question, younger Americans were much more likely to say that their top priority was doing something that they found enjoyable or making a difference in society, with 57 percent choosing one of these options.
George Dimoulas, who is 30, thinks that there’s a sweet spot between making money and pursuing personal interests. After working in fields of waste-management and energy for about 10 years, Dimoulas is freelancing and hoping to move from New York to New Hampshire so he can pursue his passion for agriculture. “I worked a lot and then the price of oil fell, so the gig wasn’t as lucrative. I said, ‘I’ll take this opportunity to learn about things I wanted to learn about, and get a wider set of skills,” he says. For now he’s using the money he saved during the past decade, coupled with his earnings from some freelance gigs to give himself some free time to read and learn about new things, including agriculture. “I just want to explore and do something I enjoy,” he says.