This post is featured on behalf of Jenna Brown.


When it comes to careers, the Millennial Generation is at a crossroads.

Some of this is just timing. The Millennial Generation is said to be those born between 1980 and 2000, which is a group large enough to comprise about 75 percent of the workforce by the year 2025. At that point in time, they will be between the ages of 25 and 40, which are the years that generally dominate the workforce in any industrialized country of any era.

But why is this group different from those who came before?

For one thing, anyone born before 1980 started work before the age of the Internet and before computers were a major influence on business or the world culture. Workers, to put it one way, went from not knowing what a computer was to having one in their hip pocket in the span of the last 40 years.

With the Internet came an entirely knew global understanding of culture, politics, business, environmental awareness and, you could say, the human mission on the planet, which is now rallying around global warming as the first truly global social issue. (You could also say the bubonic plague was global, but the world was much smaller then.)

In our time, social awareness has gone from the age of licking stamps and watching Walter Cronkite on the evening news to viral tweets and YouTube communication. That’s like going from banging flint on rocks to starting a fire with a butane torch.

The spirit of workers has also flipped. I went to two highly respected periodicals Fortune Magazine and Fast Company for research, only to discover that both agreed that money was not the primary motivation for the Millennial Generation. Instead, the up and coming generation has loftier pursuits in mind, including making a difference in society, keeping their own autonomy (working for themselves), and learning about leadership. Talk about a turnaround!

Suddenly, concepts like finding a company that can take you through your career from entry level jobs through management and beyond no longer appeals to young workers. “We’ll start you out as a shipping clerk and 40 years from now you can retire as a vice president in charge of distribution” is just not what a young worker wants to hear.

The Rise of Millennial Entrepreneurship

Business opportunities for millennials have to look and sound different from their grandfathers’ generation, but how will that be? The nature of work is still the same. However, here are some things that we can expect.

Working for yourself is likely to remain the seismic shift in the workforce. Presently, 34 percent – just over a third – of all workers are considered freelance workers. Many of them were pushed out of jobs during the Great Recession (2006-2014) and never found a way back, so they opted for self-employment. But many Millennials see this as their birthright. They don’t want to be bullied by bosses or handcuffed by time clocks. They want flex time for going to the beach, raising kids, riding mountain bikes, and managing their community (or planetary) outreach.

Entrepreneurs. More freelancers also means more entrepreneurs. Those are people who work for their own companies that might also hire others – or have the potential to hire others. This might be franchise owners or Mom and Pop business owners.

Traditionally, this means being tied down to the demands of a business, even though the owner can call the shots. But it can also mean opting for businesses that allow for flexible incomes and hours. If you call the shots, the size of the business is up to you.

Among the more startling changes in worker attitudes is the pursuit of a greater purpose in life. In days past, having hordes of workers with too much time on their hands meant allowing for a potential powder keg of discontent to evolve. After all, if money was the goal and you worked part time, frustration ensues.

For Millennials, that’s different. Part time work for Millennials is an opportunity to pursue a second line of income, rock out in a band or become a community activist.

Sure, discontent can still spread quickly around the globe. But the Internet seems to have merged the ability to criticize with community efforts to find solutions to common problems. Millennials don’t put up with constant complainers; they want to be part of the solution, especially because the Internet is a global network of grassroots opportunities. Naysayers still thrive, but with solutions just a quick search away, the world seems to be focused on the positive these days.

After all, the world is, indeed, sharing solutions on the Internet and those who favor complaining while passing on a solution are simply going to be left behind.

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