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01/17/2006, 10:42 PM
Topic of the Month: June, 2004

Topic of the Month features articles of interest for volunteer resource managers and nonprofit leaders.
For additional information about training programs or keynote presentations, please contact Mary Merrill at 614-262-8219 or mary@merrillassociates.net

Generation Y: The New Global Citizens (http://www.merrillassociates.net/topic/2004/06/generation-y-the-new-global-citizens/)

The key question to ask is not how old are people now, but when were they young (Putman, 2000, p. 251).

A funny thing has happened as Generation Y has been growing up. The country made a mid-course change and that has led to a generational change! Our youngest generation was described in the mid-90s as the Millennial Generation, because they would span the period from 1980 to 2002, bridging the new millennium. But a generation is defines not so much by when they were born as when they were young. Each generation forms core values that remain with them throughout their life, based on the events and circumstances that surrounded them during their formative year.

Psychologist remind us that our core values are programmed into us during our first fifteen to sixteen years of life, through a combination of five major life shaping influences: Parent/Family; Schools/Education; Religion/Morality; Friends/Peers; and Media/Culture. The decisions you make in your professional and personal lives are rooted somewhere in your value system, and that system was predominantly formed before you got your driver’s license or went on your first date. Granted, you have matured and changed through the years, but most of your core values are probably pretty much still intact. (Chester, 2002, p. 12)

The Millennials were born during a time of economic growth and stability in the United States. Then the economy changed and the tragedy of September 11, 2001 happened. Defining events, such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Watergate Scandal, Neil Armstrong on the moon, the Challenger explosion, the Oklahoma City bombing, and 9/11/01 have profound and lasting effects on the generational psyche. Combine a major event with dramatic shifts in the economy and national security, and younger children begin to have a different life experience from those just ahead of them.

Such a shift happened for the Millennials, also known as, and subsequently referred to as Generation Y. The country changed, the economy changed, the pace of change itself quickened and now demographers are saying this cohort (group of contemporaneous individuals having common cultural or social characteristics) covers a span from 1978 to 1984 or 1980 to 1994. Every author and every researcher has a different set of dates. What they do agree upon is that the overall span of years became shorter than for previous generations, and that this group of young people are best known as Global Citizens born in the late seventies and early eighties (GCBLSEEs).

Why all the fuss about the age span? Because the issues that shape us are the things that happened to us when we were young. To understand Generation Y we must first understand the times that shaped them.

Generation Y has never known life without cell phones, pagers, fax machines, and voice mail. Their world has always included minivans, bottled water, cable television, overnight package delivery, and chat rooms. They would have no personal reference for a time before ATMs, VCRs, PCs, CDs, MTV, CNN, SUVs, and TCBYs! And sadly enough, Gen Ys have never known a world without AIDS, without crack, or without terrorist attacks. They’ve never known a world where kids don’t shoot and kill other kids. (Chester, 2002, p. 13)

Generation Y was born at a time when children and family were in fashion again. Women were choosing to be single mothers or stay at home mothers. Las Vegas redesigned itself as a family destination. The economy was growing at a rapid pace and jobs were plentiful. The 60 million member of this generation are slightly less than the boomers, but significantly more than the predecessors, Generation X. These young people make up the most globally aware and racially diverse generation in history.

There is always a danger when talking of generational characteristics of being accused of stereotyping. In this short article I will do a broad sweep of this generation and I will make generalization that can be challenged by many exceptions to the rule. I recognize that we are products of many influences, such as urban or rural life style, birth order, and gender. However, unique forces such as the growth and demise of the dot.net bubble, the Columbine High School shootings, overly involved parents and the speed of change have shaped Generation Y. To better understand them it is helpful to identify specific characteristics that may appear in varying degrees in the members of this generation.

Sometimes referred to as the over-achieving, over-scheduled generation, their lives have been programmed from the beginning with school, sports, arts, clubs and activities. They have never known the slow pace of life of their grandparenta, when mail was delivered by the Postal Service not the internet. In the first quarter of the century change occurred over ten to fifteen year periods. Now it occurs in months. The high tech media driven society of today has opened the world and exposed these young people to more than previous generations even dreamed of. They have been programmed to live life at a rapid pace to keep up with the constant change that is happening around them. They see life as a drop down menu of choices that can be accessed immediately with the click of a mouse. Speed, change and uncertainty are normal for Ys (Chester, 2002).

This generation should be of great interest to the voluntary sector, as they are becoming volunteerism advocates. Service learning educational initiatives and service learning graduation requirements have encourage teens and young adults to be active volunteers in their communities. Robert Putnam, in his book “Bowling Alone,” refers to them as the next generation of institution builders.

A new spirit of volunteerism is beginning to bubble up from the millennial generation. A wide range of evidence suggests that young Americans in the 1990’s displayed a commitment to volunteerism without parallel among immediate predecessors. . . America might be on the cusp of a new period of civic renewal, especially if this youthful volunteerism persists into adulthood and begins to expand beyond individual care giving to broader engagement with social and political issues.(Putnam, 2000, p. 133).

Volunteerism is at an all-time high, thanks to the unprecedented involvement of Generation Y, who are putting their time where their hearts are. It is hard to find an organized student club, sport, or activity where participants aren’t involved in some type of community service as a part of their credo. Soccer teams stick around after their games to clean up the park. Student councils visit nursing homes, paint homes for the elderly, and hold canned food drives. Cheerleaders volunteer to take underprivileged children trick or treating. (Chester, 2002, p. 24)

What makes this civic minded, globally aware, well educated and diverse generation different? Howe and Strauss characterize them as optimistic, team players, rule followers, smart, watched over, trusting, on the cutting edge, and having a capacity for greatness (Howe & Strauss, 2000).

Following are ten characteristics, positive and negative, identified by Eric Chester in his book, “Employing Generation Why?.

First and foremost, they are impatient. Life has always moved at a very fast pace. The old adage, “good things come to those who wait,” has no meaning for this generation. The internet has taught them there is no need to wait for anything - everything is available at the click of a button, from test grades to chat rooms. Previous generations were accustomed to going to the library to look up information in the book catalogue, then finding the books and searching for the answers. For Generation Y the concept of going to the library to find information is foreign. It is instantly available through a google search. There is no need to look up a movie time in the newspaper, when they can access the information through the wireless web on their cell phone. They have grown up with computers in the classrooms, video games and MTV. They like to be entertained and stimulated across all their sense. Multitasking is part of their routine. They become restless and bored quickly and are constantly looking for the next level of challenge.

Living in a time of constant change has made them very adaptable. They have never had time to become stuck in old patterns or routines. They process information quickly and embrace change. They are progressive, forward thinkers, because they are not wedded to or even interested in history. Life is about what is ahead, and how quickly you can react, adjust, adapt.

They question everything because their thinking is not framed in the past. They are open to an endless stream of new possibilities. To avoid boredom they have become natural innovators, unafraid of new ideas and new approaches. They are not simply comfortable with technology, they are creating new levels of technology.

They have lived their lives filled with activities and are thus skilled time managers and multitaskers. They have learned to balance sports, school, jobs and social time. They strive for maximum results with minimal effort. They are very efficient and do not get caught up in details. They possess a self confidence that allows them analyze problems, select options and move on. They do not sit around and wait for things to happen when they know they can make things happen.

The children of “never trust anyone over thirty” parents, this generation has lived in a time when the media and tell-all books debunked all past heroes. They watched the confessions of Princess Diana, saw sports figures discredited, and heard a president lie. They have few illusions about what the world is really like and thus are skeptical and wary. They have seen too much to believe everything at face value. Because their skepticism has led them to question much of what they see and hear, they value honesty and truth. They dislike embellishments, half truths and overinflated promises.

Exposed to far more, at an earlier age, than previous generations, these young people have seen the good, the bad and ugly. Sometimes labeled as ’street smart,” there is very little they have not seen, through the media or virtually. They are resilient, slow to be shocked, quick react, and willing to take risks. Life has been an adventure of constant change and they feel well equipped to tackle any situation. If you have established a relationship of honesty and trust, they will stick with you through anything. Many adults label this generation as disrespectful and outspoken. After all, if you grew up never trusting anyone over thirty, you certainly don’t “respect your elders.” They address their elders as equals, using first names rather than Mr. or Mrs. While they like older people (especially the Veteran generation) and respect their life experiences, they are not awed or overly impressed by anyone of anything. Though they often appear disrespectful, they crave respect. They believe that power equals respect. While they are slow to give respect, they expect respect automatically. “Gen Ys respect authenticity, accomplishment, and competence” (Chester, 2002, p. 46).

“Children should be seen and not heard” has not been the axiom of this generation. They have been included in family decision from their earliest days. They have been taught to speak up and their opinions have been considered and valued. They are very independent thinkers and feel very comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions with anyone. In a recent workshop on this topic, a young member of the audience immediately spoke up when I stated this generation tends to be bluntly outspoken. She related that her coworkers often criticize her for being blunt, when she believes she is being honest and open and giving immediate feedback. What her coworkers saw as “attitude” was “authenticity” to her.

Diversity is a value for this generation and thus they display an incredible tolerance and a slowness to judge other people. Though adults sometimes challenge this saying they are can be rude and outspoken, they have a great spirit of openness. True products of the civil rights movement, these young people do not display the same prejudices that have divided earlier generation. They are great team members, ignoring gender and racial biases to work with anyone to accomplish common goals.

Finally, they are looking for ways to make their mark and find their causes. When the match is right, they are highly committed and fiercely loyal. I have had groups of young people tell me they are looking for their purpose and something to believe in. But they also expect you to believe in them. They want to be respected, outspoken equals and when they find that “fit” they will be faithful allies.

As you design volunteer opportunities and engage this generation in your volunteer programs remember that Generation Y likes:

Exciting, challenging, thrilling experiences
Opportunities to be innovative and creative
Immediacy. Engage them quickly, keep them busy and give ongoing, immediate feedback
Clearly defined tasks and expectations
Collaboration and teamwork
Being an respected equal
To ask questions and challenge assumptions

Chester, E. (2002). Employing Generation Why?. Colorado: Tucker House Books.

Howe, N. & Strauss,W. (2000). Millennials Rising. New York: Vintage Books.

Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling Alone. New York: Simon & Shuster

Zemke, R., Raines, C., & Filipczak, B. (2000). Generations at work: Managing the clash of veterans, boomers, Xers, and Nexters in your workplace. New York, NY: American Management Association Publications.

01/18/2006, 05:57 AM
Tìm hiểu mấy ông nhỏ , bà nhỏ...(sinh thời 1980S --).Thế hệ Bản lề Thiên niên Kỷ. Y generation.