Ways Millennials Can Step Up their Game and What We All Can Learn

There is an obvious age gap between generations, and each generation face unique challenges of finding their place in society such as the Millennials are facing today. Each generations grows up in a different world full of different problems, yet we all seem to think we can keep things the same way year after year. The reality is times are changing, and we need to all make sure that we as the upcoming generation are prepared to take over for the generations currently leading now. Before that happens, here are few things that we all should be considering.

Ways the Next Generation Can Step Up: 

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Cover of Time Magazine

Stop being lazy and take responsibility. Millennials are constantly chastised for our laziness, addictions to technology, stupid behavior, and unwillingness to work. For many millennials, this is true, but it needs to change. It’s time to grow up, just in some ways. There are problems facing us that we are going to have to deal with someday, and we need to be prepared. You can still have fun and enjoy life, but make sure you are taking initiative, setting goals, challenging yourself and preparing to be leaders in the future. Life is not all about who tweeted at who and who use the Instagram filters the best.  

Find your motivation and passion. I know older people constantly bug you about what you want to do in life, and you have no idea, but that does not mean you cannot explore. It is completely fine not to know what you want to do in life, but doing nothing gets nothing. You also must like to do something. Millennials often underestimate that their interests can turn into possible job opportunities or limit their opportunities based on their major or what their parents/elders tell them they should do. Explore all options! Do not let other people tell you what to do. Your passion comes from inside you, not someone else. Go out there and get motivated!

Listen to more experienced individuals. This is valuable. You should be active trying to listening to people more experienced than you. Why? Because they have experience more than you! Every internship I had, I tried to connect with leaders in the agency and just listened to their story. Whether I believed it was useful or not, I learned how other people developed skills and got to their current position. It’s extremely helpful if you have no idea what to do, or have an idea but do not know which route to take. Learning the pros and cons of someone else’s experiences, can give you the opportunity to learn about paths before you experience them yourself. Also, talking with older people is great; you create a relationships and build your network!

Put down the technology! Now, I know what you’re thinking, I hear this all the time. People are too obsessed with technology now a days. I agree that I cannot live without my phone and my computer, but think about how you use it. Tweeting your every move, posting a picture of every moment, or texting people in the same room as you. Why do you think we have been called the “Me” generation? We are obsessed with ourselves. Put the phone down in social situations. Why don’t you try something crazy and talk to people face to face? Technology should used to advanced society and connect on a larger level, not post your ignorant thoughts or unflattering pictures. People lose jobs over Facebook, people damage relationships over Twitter, and a reputation you have worked years for can be destroyed in a matter of seconds. Learning proper social media and technology practices could go a long way.

Question authority and practices. This is something I constantly do everyday of my life. Why? Because society changes, and the way we run the world should sometimes as well. If you do not understand why things happen a certain way, question it. If you do not agree with how something operates, say something. If you have an idea to make things better, speak up. We need people to step up for what they believe is right in order to effectively collaborate as a society. We need people with many diverse opinions to give their views on how they think what should happen. You cannot complain about how things are run, if you do not contribute to bettering the conversation.

Now that I went over a few ways, millennials can step up their game, let’s discuss some reasons older generations should listen.

You do not know everything. I hate to be blunt, but it is true. This is blatantly evident when I look at the media, read about politicians or listen to people older than me. Many older individuals believe they know everything about the world due to their experiences and a young person trying to tell you something otherwise is foolish. Yes, many times we are wrong or naive about situations, but sometimes we can teach you things too. How else are you going to figure out how to use the new smart phone?

Admit your wrong. Yes, sometimes you are wrong, did you forget that? I am not trying to pick on older generations or be sassy, but really think about decisions and statements you make in your life. We are not the only ones being challenged by every days situations. No one is perfect, and it is ok. Admitting you are wrong and moving forward is a more admirable characteristic than being stubborn.

We think differently. We have great ideas and different perspectives! We will never know if we are doing the right thing, if you do not give us a chance to speak. Whether we are right or wrong, the fact that you took your time to listen means the world. I hated my supervisors when they did not listen to my ideas or thoughts, and they just nod at me to acknowledge I said something. It is frustrating when a person in an older generation does not care we have to say. We are experts in our own ways. Give us a voice for once!

You have not grown up in the same worldWhat worked for you, may not work the same as it would today. It is hard to believe that the world has changed so much in a little time period, but it has. Did you take online courses while in college? Did you have people constantly posting photos of every social interaction to the internet which can then be accessed by everyone in the world? Did you have to take out a more student loans than you will in a home mortgage? Most likely not. Yes we still share similar experiences, but do not assume that back in your day is the same situation as in my day now.

Generations before us made the problems we face today. The economy, climate change, rise in college tuition, poverty, our “laziness”, and many more issues are results of generations before us. You all have dictated the path to where we are today, and we are dealing with it. I am not blaming a particular person, but just keep this in mind before you dismiss my thoughts.

Now that’s done, here are a few things we ALL should be thinking about:

Stop thinking the world revolves around you. It doesn’t and don’t forget it. Selfishly thinking about yourself has led our society to the problems we face today. Don’t think you are any better than anyone else. Focus on how you can contribute back to society and help other people in any way possible.

Never think you are done learning. The world changes everyday, and new things happen. You can always learn something new every day of your life. Do not ever think you are done. Come on Gandhi even agrees.

Give more than you get. I learned this recently in a mentorship program I am participating in. The world is not only about making the best out of it, but giving to other people. The more you give to others, the better you are going to feel. The stronger our society will be stronger as a whole if people just stopped and cared more about other people for a change.

Courtesy of Time Magazine

Reaching the Millennials, A Social Worker’s Plight

For the clinician or case manager who finds most of his or her caseload representative of young people, the Millennials have proven to present different issues or concerns in regards to providing appropriate interventive services.  As popular culture grew exponentially in the 20th century, its influence on this generation has presented somewhat of a paradigm shift in how social work services are delivered.

Jobs with Justice
Jobs with Justice

If you were to ask a Generation X’er or Baby Boomer some of the language or idiosyncrasies exhibited by young people today you would be lucky, if they could provide you with a definitive response.  Reason being, this adolescent or young adult generation has been raised in an environment that has been fused with technology and social networking in a manner those prior generations could not have fathomed.

Traditional versus Technology

Now imagine a social worker who works with young people today and has to be able to reach them.  How do you make it work?  As one who spent much of his career working with not only children, but teenagers and young adults, these issues were not necessarily present during my tenure.  Taking SOAP notes or completing a biopsychosocial manually was the norm and having an agency cellular phone or pager was the extent of a social worker’s technological prowess in the 1990s.  By today’s standards, it was indeed quite archaic, even for a practice that has been in existence for centuries and has adapted with such changes.

Today, a social worker would more than likely have a client or patient who communicates more virtually than actually having a face to face conversation.  This of course, is quite tricky, in a field that prides itself on direct interactions.  Part of understanding how to reach the Millennials is to understand how they learn, which has dramatically changed since prior learning styles or pedagogical instructional methods.

Much research has been presented about Generation Y learning styles and patterns particularly coined the “technological generation”.  Social Worker, Educator and Consultant, Dr. Mark Taylor, who described this generation as “Generation Next”, identified several points that pinpoint the way this generation learns which is critical to how we as social workers should also provide treatment and supportive services.

Generation Y Characteristics

  • Consumer Orientation
  • Entertainment Orientation
  • Entitlement

Understanding that this generation tends to be heavily preoccupied with consumerism and entertainment, it makes sense that social workers become familiar with this arena, albeit fashion or music, to hopefully break down those initial barriers experienced in early meetings with new clients.

Sabrena Barnes McAllister, LGSW, a mental health therapist in the DC Metro area and former administrator, states that she uses various treatment approaches to engage her younger clients.  Where she does use the more traditional journaling or even art journaling for clients who may be able to express themselves better more expressively, she conveys that a good clinician should adapt to the needs of the client.  As all social workers are trained to meet the client “where they are”, being adaptable should not be all that difficult.

As this generation tends to be more visual, the art journaling is a great way to allow for trauma victims to express themselves in a manner that allows for more depth in therapy.   A more unique approach to reach younger clients in the therapeutic relationship is allowing for them to even rap their lyrics and process them once completed. This has proven to open up many a session according to Sabrena Barnes McAllister, LGSW.  I’ve even had a colleague in the university setting utilize “rap” as a way to engage his undergraduates, or even spoken word.  As practices and modalities evolve with the needs of society, it only makes sense that the practice of social work adapt to such a shift.

In the end, in order to reach any client, a social worker must fully understand that without appreciating such age groups preferences in communicating or interacting, being able to provide effective services would be greatly hindered….

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