Are you a child of the 80s or 90s? Are you currently making the transition from student to employee? Take a few moments and take a trip down memory lane. Think about your experience with technology thus far. What does it look like? As a member of the workforce, or soon to be member, do you have certain expectations for devices such as computers and/or mobile phones in relation to what you do for a living? Is fixing your computer problem in less than ten minutes or accessing company resources from your mobile device things you think should be the least of what a company offers? You, my friend, are a Millennial.
Recently, we released findings from Bomgar-sponsored research about the Millennial Generation and the impact these younger workers are having on their employers, particularly their IT support departments. Set to be the largest workforce in the country since the baby boomers, the Millennials are now beginning their shift into their careers. According to the survey, these employees are between the ages of 20-30 and bring with them some high expectations for technology at work as well as the support they receive for that technology. But I feel that some “Millennials” could feel differently or even be taken off guard by some of “their” so-called expectations for the workplace, myself included.
At 26 (nearly 27) years old, I am considered to be a Millennial simply based on my age and the year I was born. However, those of us born in the 80s (maybe a few from the early, early 90s) are a group that I would consider to be “on the fence” or in the mid-to-back of the Millennial pack. I can remember the days when the only gaming systems were Nintendo and Sega Genesis. I can remember when “car phones” came out, which eventually evolved into cell phones, and are now referred to as mobile devices. I can remember when the buzz about the invention of the internet was going on and what this new phenomenon meant for the world of technology. Finding information on the computer as opposed to a book was as far out as you could get. Once the internet was somewhat established, the cool thing then became AOL, thus email was introduced and instant messenger became the popular way to communicate in high school. The idea of sending any message instantly was something completely new.
And think about the changes to cell phones. These handy inventions went from having their own zip-up suitcase that had to be plugged into a car cigarette lighter to a handheld device that can fit in your pocket and act as a wireless internet hotspot. I remember in high school when the Nokia 5110 phones were popular, with interchangeable face plates, ringtones, and the game snake; this was all you needed to be cool. I, of course, did not have this cutting-edge phone. I was stuck with a much older, much slower, cellular device registered with the Nextel network (another fad, for another blog). My phone had zero games, no cool or different faceplates, and no ringtones.
Text messaging. Something that was also cutting-edge in high school, shortly after the inception of the Nokia craze. I distinctly remember one of my friends, who had a Nokia phone, tell me about this text message she got from a fellow Nokia user. . My response: “What is a ‘tex’ message?” I couldn’t even say it right much less imagine instant messaging on a cell phone! And here we are, often more liable to communicate via text than actual talking.
The internet. It was a source for research papers, but still books and encyclopedias were used to write those 10+ page research reports we all loathed. I attended a private school, and at the beginning of my freshman year, the school decided to use our class as the guinea pigs for a new laptop program. This program was one that was going to require each high school student to have a laptop, either by purchase or lease from the school. If being a freshman wasn’t bad enough, being the geeky freshman who carried around laptops made it worse. The program was enhanced and implemented into each class following ours. By the time I was a senior, every student had a laptop. This program is one thing that I know sets me apart as a Millennial. I do consider myself “computer savvy” in the sense that I can operate a computer beyond just knowing where the power button is. I was an early adopter of the internet and therefore never had a problem utilizing it. And remember AskJeeves.com? Yes, that was my introduction to online search.
So technology was definitely a part of my life, but as an older Millennial, I don’t think it has the same magnitude as it does for my younger peers. For instance, technology was not so important to me that it influenced my expectations as a college student or employee.
Even though computers and cell phones rapidly became available and present at school during my school years, things still moved slowly. If my laptop broke, it was either out for the time period it took to fix, or I was given a loaner. Needless to say, the only expectations I had of IT is that it wouldn’t take longer than a week to fix a computer.
So how “Millennial” are you? On a scale of 1 to 10, I would consider myself a 5. As an early millennial, I was there for the introduction of the internet, e-mail, instant messaging and all things “instant communication.” However, when applying instant gratification to my work expectations, I consider myself somewhat less of a Millennial. Since I was such an early adopter of technology, I did not always experience instant problem resolution for technology issues. I’ve seen communication technology advance and mature over the years, and there were several bumps and roadblocks to get through.