Is the Crisis Good for Gen Y?

Last Updated Aug 4, 2009 7:59 AM EDT

How can Gen Y make the most of the recession? Nearly everyone can agree that the last year or so has been dreadful for business, profits, unemployment, for just about everything -- with one exception. According to some, the crisis is just what the doctor ordered for the youngest generation of workers. Jessica Lee, a senior manager for PR firm APCO Worldwide, writing on Fistful of Talent, points out that the economic turmoil is just what's needed to bring Gen Y (also called 'the millennials') down to earth:
So called millennials are getting a reality check. Now, I'm not one to make sweeping statements about an entire generation. And as a gen Y-ish gal, I hate the generalizations made about how we're spoiled, have entitlement issues and are too focused on work life balance - you know all the stereotypes. If you subscribe to those beliefs, fine... I've seen my fair share of millennials who fit the bill and many who don't - but for those who are "classic" millennials, I'm seeing a reality check happen right before my very eyes.
And Lee isn't the only one who seems to think that a hefty dose of adversity is the best medicine. J. Barry Griswell and Bob Jennings, authors of The Adversity Paradox: An Unconventional Guide to Achieving Uncommon Business Success, have devoted an entire book to reminding readers that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger... as long as you have the right attitude. Jennings explains that there are several personality traits necessary to make the most of a bad situation:
Each person featured in the book went through very different forms of adversity, but.... each demonstrated an ability to conduct honest introspection; they found a purpose they were passionate about; they developed a robust work character; and they cultivated an ongoing thirst for knowledge. Any millennial who can.... employ the skills of having a positive attitude, being self-accountable, and relying on "and then some" has set themselves up for success.
So is the crisis good for Gen Y? I'm pretty sure every young person reading this would say certainly not. We'd take plentiful job opportunities over the worst employment outlook in decades any day. But the crisis is here, so perhaps the best way to handle it is to use the opportunity to kick the entitlement habit Lee mentions and develop our capacity to be positive, to own up to and correct mistakes, and to go the extra mile as Jennings recommends.

(Image of lemons and lemonade by MMChicago, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.