teaching youth about work

The debate of how entitled Millennials are compared to that of their parents and previous generations is becoming tiring. Are there fundamental differences in how Millenials enter the workforce compared to let’s say Gen X or Boomers? Of course there are. Millennials And Xennials (like myself) grew up with technology integration more than any previous generation. Sure the boomers got some pretty awesome automobiles but could they order pizza on their cell phone and tell their speaker to play a song list? No… Uber didn’t exist and crowd sourcing wasn’t a thing. There are benefits to being able to have a group video chat on Google and Skype with 4 of your of friends to discuss an upcoming class project that we might not ever be able to convince boomers are legitimate. But honestly.. I don’t really care. The times have change and so has business.

What hasn’t changed, and is critical for younger generations to understand, is that work can still be and will be hard.

That’ right folks! I said it! Work is HARD! Hard work is even harder! And it still exists. You might not be on a fabrication line in a factory in 2020, but your job is still going to be tough. Even if you love what you do, you will need to solve problems and some aspects of your job will be tough to handle.

Throughout my corporate career and entrepreneurship I’ve come to the conclusion that even though business models and work-life balance has changed with passion seemingly at the forefront of happiness in the work place, there are some things that the future generations need to understand about entering the workforce.


You may love the company you work for, but you need to remember they are in business to make a profit.

A business has to make profit (in most cases, unless you are working at a not-for-profit) to sustain itself and grow. You need to remember that. Managing a budget is something you need to be able to do (A fundamental life skill) that you will need to uphold in the workplace no matter the position you are in.

Your boss is going to ask you to do things that you don’t like to do.

Your boss is going to ask you to do work on occasion that you may feel is “beneath” you or that you don’t like to do. You need to suck it up and do it. If it’s hurting the business, question it, and if you think it’s the wrong decision feel free to start a conversation, but you need to remember that work is work. My assumption is that an 80/20 rule in the workplace is healthy. If only 20% of your job is made up of tasks that you don’t particularly enjoy, and 80% is; you are working with the right company and in the right position.

Work ethic still exists, now it may not be how much you can lift, but rather how creative you can get .

You may not have to prove to your company that you can lift the most amount of lumber or haul the most, but you still need to show that you want to work where you work and that you want to contribute. Solving problems has always been the foundation of work ethic, and investing in your ability to creatively solve problems will serve you well in your career.

The company’s success = your success.

Show you want the company to succeed. If at your core you don’t want the company to succeed find one that you do believe in or start your own. Remember, even if the company you work for is 150 years old, if nobody other than the CEO, President, Founder, etc.. wanted it to succeed, it wouldn’t have. You can be a part of the next 150 years, or you can get yourself fired.

Every position, in every company offers an opportunity to build relationships and network.

Never forget that the guy in the mailroom delivering you mail may not be there in 10 years. He may be the CEO of a company making the app you love on your phone. Be good to people, especially if they are good to you.

You aren’t “Bigger” or “Better” than the company you work for.

You aren’t a celebrity because you have 1,000 followers on social media and you aren’t more intelligent than every one at your office or workplace. Be humble, there are skills that can always be developed and there is something to learn from everyone.

There will always be something in the office who pisses you off.

Office environments are full of people. Dynamics are different, and corporate cultures are inherited. There will always be “that guy” who makes you feel like you don’t know what you are talking about, or “that woman” who talks behind your back. We are human beings, we are all flawed and there are awful people everywhere. It’s nothing to cry about, and it’s nothing to worry about. If you stay true to being a good person, work hard, and do your best, I can guarantee you that it will assist in your success. It may not have a return on investment right away, but down the road I promise it will. Just remember that the person pissing you off is probably unhappy themselves, don’t invest too much of your time, heart, or mind into the situation because its truly not worth it. Of course if it is impacting your mental health you need to deal with it, but generally it’s just people being people. And some people suck.

Some leaders suck.

Not every person in a powerful or high-up position has developed leadership skills, or to be frank, even cares about leadership. Latch on to the leaders who inspire you and commit to being mentored by them.

You can either be a part of the journey, or not.

If you work for a company that fosters change in the world or is having a huge impact on people’s lives that’s great! You can choose to either be a part of it, or not be. That choice is yours, and yours alone. Nothing great came from a straight line, journeys of success are roller coasters and include many valleys and dips. Mentally prepare yourself to deal with tough times, and truly embrace the great ones. They all contribute to your life and to your own personal success; however success looks to you.

Lastly, Hard work DOES pay off.

Working hard is going to test you, and it’s going to frustrate you, but success does not come easy. Hard work doesn’t necessarily mean giving ALL of your time to the company you work for, but it does mean that when you are there you work.

This is intended to be a long negative rant. I am inspired by the youth that I work with on a daily basis, and some of the greatest minds I’ve worked with have been still attending university.  It’s just important that we do remember that there is purpose to business, luckily a lot of businesses have purposes within them, and for a lot of them that includes having a positive impact on society. Embrace every opportunity you get, but please remember that life isn’t easy for anyone, everyone has been through something and we are all just trying to figure this big puzzle out.