Can Millennials Survive in the Real World?

Last week, Joel Stine of Time magazine caused a stir with his cover article “The Me Me Me Generation,” in which he called millennials the laziest, most narcissistic and self involved generation to date; a generation that has focused almost exclusively on the “pursuit of happiness” portion of the American dream.

Though each generation has taken its turn to criticize the next, millennials seem to have raised the most doubt about their ability to survive in the real world.  A quick Google search of “millennial” will turn up articles about the difficulty in managing millennials, their shoddy work ethic, the reasons why they may not be able to survive in the real world, and how they may never recover from the record breaking student loan debt with which so many leave their universities.

Despite so much negativity, there seem to be many factors to indicate that millennials are in every position to succeed.

Though student loan debt is becoming a greater challenge every year, according to a PEW social and demographic profile, millennials are the most educated generation of all time. Not only are they educated, but they value learning, and have more access to information than any generation before.

While, yes, due to several external factors, millennials may be slower to reach certain life points such as career and marriage, than previous generations, they have the tools through education, to survive in a knowledge based economy.

Not only do millennials have the tools, they also have the confidence. Studies have shown that millennials have high expectations about their futures. Despite having grown up in a recession, and graduating into an almost impossible job market, millennials still believe that they will reach their career and financial goals.

This, perhaps at times unrealistic, optimism coupled with high levels of education, would be admirable if millennials had the work ethic to match. Unfortunately, several studies, including the same PEW report mentioned above, indicate that millennials are lazier than all previous generations. This trend is most attributed to an entitlement complex; a complex Stein pins on a culture of abundance. There is evidence to suggest that millennials may be quite content to have things handed to them.

So while millennials have the knowledge and the confidence to succeed, it may be lacking the drive to make it happen, a lack that has understandably raised doubts as to whether or not this generation can succeed in the real world.