Lessons Learned

How the Millennial was Created

Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m going to pile onto the ever-growing pile of articles, speeches, thoughts, and theories about the magical creatures known as millennials. I’ll focus on what “created” the millennial as opposed to what characterizes the millennial.

For millennials in America, a lot of us are children of 1st generation immigrant families.

This means a couple of things. Typically, millennials’ parents sacrificed a lot to put their children in the position to have a better life. This included opening up dry-cleaners, grocery stores, liquor stores, or working a 9-5 corporate job.

As a result, many millennials had the privilege of focusing on their studies and pursuing a college degree to “better” their life.

We were shaped by the recession.

If you read my story about how I got my job at Root, you’ll know I am a huge believer in the disillusionment my generation faced as a result of the recession. At that point in time, it did not matter if you had worked your ass off from grade-school through college. Long gone were the $50k – $100k jobs out of undergrad with fat signing bonuses. You were going to be competing against people with way more working experience than you for entry level positions. The American dream was not as “real” as it used to be.

As a result, a lot of millennials are hyper-focused on experiences rather than material things. Material things (i.e. money, 401k, houses, cars) can disappear in an instant or be simply unattainable, so it is better to invest your time and resources on things you can both afford ($9 dollar coffee, although expensive for coffee, is affordable in the short-term vs a car) or things you won’t forget (bungee jumping off a cliff in Costa Rica.)

The recession, in combination with having parents who sacrificed a lot for our generation and know the “struggle” of life, allowed for a perfect storm of a situation for many millennials to continue to live at home.

We have one foot in the analog age, and one foot in the digital age.

Not sure the effects this had on the millennial generation but a couple cool points:

  • We know how read analog clocks (a lot of post-millennial people don’t know how to read a watch)
  • We appreciate the power of Google but still understand the value of learning.
  • We know how to use most apps and tech gear, but appreciate analog items like CD’s.
  • We were the generation right before computer science and programming became “cool”.

I’d love to hear if you agree or disagree with any of these points. Feel free to leave a comment below.


Steven Choi works at Root Inc., a strategy execution firm. He is a millennial.

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