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We’ve all read the articles, blogs, interviews and tips about how to deal with all your new Gen ‘Y’ers in the workplace.  As a Gen ‘Y’ myself, I’d like to be able to tell you that these things don’t accurately describe us and you can’t just slap one big label on us and think it covers the whole spectrum of our being . . . but that’s exactly what these articles will tell you we would say.

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It’s true, we have charged full-force into the workplace and are just getting started or have begun climbing the latter toward the great things that most Gen ‘Y’ers hope to achieve.  We are a generation that grew up on Saved By the Bell, The Simpsons, Gulf War I, grunge music, the computer, the internet, an American economic explosion, Ross & Rachel, reality TV, the slow death of radio and newspaper, Furby, and Conan O’Brien.  And among all of these things, I believe that we have been lead toward our most fundamental strength, and weakness . . . the idea that greatness is achieved by working smarter, not harder.

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It’s a blessing and a curse, really.  We want to be great and make lots of money but we don’t want to have to work hard for the rest of our lives to do it.  We come up with amazingly inventive ideas that will one day revolutionize the world we live in, but we’d rather “invent” while on a ski lift in Utah or out surfing in San Diego.  Things have come easier for us.  Refer to a blog I wrote few weeks ago; you think Yellow Pages are outdated?  We don’t even know how to use them.  We’re a technology generation where we expect fast results in a “now” environment.  We were given trophies for getting 7th place in Tee-Ball and everyone made any team they tried out for.  These things have given us, as a generation, a sense of entitlement to what we are, what we’ve been, and what we will be.

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The point is that Gen Y is prepared to work hard if we believe it is in the right direction, if it is building toward the right future, and if it’s something we like doing.  We want accommodation.  We’re known to leave well paying jobs if it’s not enjoyable for us.  We’re known to prefer working from home rather than at the office.  We’re known for being more likely to finish a project at 5 a.m. than 5 p.m.  We’re known for absolutely amazing and innovative work . . . in the right environment.  We’re known to want feedback, constantly and immediately.  We’re known to not take criticism very well if it’s not given the right way.  We’re known to not want to be “ordered” what to do, but also that we need guidelines with which to work under.  We’re known to be the most intelligent and tech-savvy generation to date.  We’re known to be somewhat arrogant in the way we present our work.  We’re known to expect rewards for good work, whether it is a raise, bonus, title, etc . . . and we want them abundantly.   We’re known to be individualistic, not eager to become part of a big corporate machine, but to know what we specifically are doing to help our company or cause.

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We’re known for many things . . . but the underlying theme of what we are is that we don’t want to work for someone, we want to work with them, and we don’t want to labor in a “9 to 5” for the next 40 years of our lives.  We want to be at a place where work is interesting and something we truly care about.  Acceptable or not, we’re the future of the business.