MoMenT By DaviD D. BursTein
most institutions in our society, the milestones that used to define the passage from adolescence to adulthood are undergoing enormous change. Buy a car. Graduate from college in four years. Move away from home. Get a first “real job” and stick with it long enough to climb the ladder. Get married. Buy a house. Have children. Move to the suburbs. Buy an SUV. But for my generation, the Millennials — people born between the mid-1980s and the mid 1990s — this isn’t the path through life. When my grandmother grew up in the 1920s and ‘30s, she was part of the Greatest Generation and part of the early groups of women who went to work in corporate environments. Although she had a few different jobs, she worked for AT&T for almost all of her working life. My grandmother was always focused on the best job she could get from an economic viewpoint. She enjoyed her work and she was good at it, but she never chose her job because it was her passion or because of its potential social impact, that was just the reality of her world. Fast forward to the 1990s, when I grew up. It was an era that saw the birth of the web and many new technologies, an increased willingness to take risks and try new things, and a growing sense of the possibilities of life and of personal empowerment. The traditional definition of adulthood —graduate, get a job, marry, buy a home — was already crumbling amidst the changes of the turn of the millennium. The change accelerated even more profoundly after the 9/11 attacks. For Millennials, engagement with our world became essential and the goal of making our world a better place became a logical conclusion. The desire to live meaningful lives and do meaningful work only deepened as future crises unfolded and as we witnessed the power of technology to allow us to start businesses and organizations and share messages with unprecedented ease. We are mindful of the dangers and the risks in the world — we have events like Columbine and 9/11 seared into our memories —yet we remain confident and optimistic about the future. We mastered the web and
social media and grew up with these technological tools in our hands. We developed much more inclusive views about gender, race, and life in general. We played a major role in getting Barack Obama elected in 2008 — the first year many of us could vote. My generation has emerged from our formative years as “pragmatic idealists.” We deeply want to make big changes in our world. Yet we understand that, in order to do so, we need a plan and we need to work step by step to make change happen. We believe in taking small steps as well as big ones. We can be idealistic consumers by buying from companies who have a commitment to social responsibility and sustainability, thus putting pressure on companies to do good works in order to gain our patronage. We are concerned with big problems like the crisis in education or global climate change, but we are doers, ready to bite off a small piece of the problem with a practical solution, like starting an after school education program in a specific community, and we are willing to work with anyone who can help, even if that may mean Wal-Mart or other big corporations to reduce their carbon footprint. When we were confronted with the economic crisis and recession in 2008, we had a pragmatic response. With few job opportunities even for the top graduates, many of us took advantage of the new ease of starting a business to create our own economic future, for ourselves and our peers. We became entreprenurial out of necessity. Throughout the last five years of economic and employment crises, unemployed Millennials have been consistently practical about how to use their time out of the workforce to gain experience and skills through volunteer work or internships. The many Millennials who have ended up back in their parents’ houses are not slackers, but realists who are saving money while looking for good quality, meaningful opportunities. The Millennial commitment to having a positive social impact is so strong that some friends of mine have turned down good jobs in WESTONMAGAZINEGROUP.COM
Published on Apr 5, 2013
celebrating our 50th issue, july 2013, central park west magazine is 1 of 12 upscale, hyper-local regional lifestyle publications published...