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From {Young Minds}: “Excuse me, the offer is how much?”

September 7, 2009

This guest post is part of the Young Minds Series, and written by Kate Ottavio.

Forgive me if I make an overgeneralization here, but it seems us Gen Y-ers come off as a bit “entitled.”

Boss: “We’d love to have you be a part of our firm. We will start you at $XX,000.”
Kid fresh out of college with a PR degree: “Um, excuse me? $XX grand? That’s it?”

FileYes, my dear, that’s it. Face it, even with that expensive college degree, your experience level and skill set hasn’t yet made your time “worth” much more.

It’s the young people who react in such a way that give a less-than-wonderful name to many of those happy to work hard and bust their behinds in their brand new careers as PR professionals. When Lauren first introduced me to her Young Minds series, I was thrilled and flattered she asked (of all people) me to contribute. In my humble opinion, who am I?

This reaction reminded me though, that I (hopefully) have my head screwed on straight. Some in my age group can really harm the value of the work so many others put forth.

Gen Y-ers seem to have given themselves a bad stereotype that we deserve the world and more. What’s important for me to get across here is that there are so many young professionals out there willing to work hard…willing to take constructive criticism…willing to better themselves. Check out Michael Coffey for example. Michael directs a Young Professionals Group aimed at connecting young pros across the country to share networking ideas and best practices for their local groups.

We young people have so much to share, so much to say. I recall a story from when I was born, the nurse told my mom: “this ones going to be a talker.” Ha! Little did she know…I digress. Let us first, before we spew our thoughts unnecessarily and expect great praise, learn from professional mentors…be sponges and soak up every bit of knowledge we can from those more experienced. It is then we can truly process and produce worthwhile, fresh and fantastic ideas! I will quote a friend of mine, Kathy Hokunson, who recently commented on a post where I discussed “self-labeling” with the “expert” title:

“The reality is that there are some very important traits and skills that come from wisdom – time in the trenches. No matter how smart or educated you are it takes time to really learn and understand the important nuances of what we do.”

As a young professional myself, I’m the first to say I don’t have all the answers. So what do you think? Are you a young professional who has made great strides? Are you a more experienced professional willing to contribute your thoughts on how we can shatter this stereotype? Please share…I will happily be the sponge.

Kate Ottavio is an Account Coordinator at Co-Communications. She maintains and writes for the firm’s new blog and contributes to

11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2009 10:30 am

    There’s a fine line between being motivated and assuming entitlement. There’s also a distinction between unwarranted entitlement and earned entitlement. You shouldn’t expect things to just be handed to you but if you’re able to commit the time and effort to go the extra mile, then should you now feel entitled?

    That’s the problem with generalizations such as this one. Because some Gen Y’ers expect things to just be handed to them without putting much time and effort in, our entire generation is assumed to have this negative light of entitlement. There are also many of us working to earn the right to feel entitled. From what I’ve seen, there are many who don’t seem entitled at all, and are taking any opportunity they get just to start somewhere in such a terrible job market.

    In conclusion, stereotypes are bad mmkay.


  2. September 7, 2009 10:39 am

    I agree with Spinksy, Kate. We suffer from a stereotype that many might do, but those that work hard don’t. So how do we combat it? How do we make it so that the hard workers are the norm, the stereotype? But if thats true, will those that do that not stand out as more?

    I think many are being brought back to reality in this economy, and realizing that hard work at networking will pay off. Patience is a virtue that I can’t wait to have. – A fave quote, and one that applies to our generation at times. We want to work hard, we want to succeed – but we need the start and acknowledgement.

  3. September 7, 2009 10:47 am

    Great post. I’m 41 and I’m still like “you want me to work for THAT much?” lol. I remember the huge punch in the face that was my first job out of college–$19k as a secretary. Secretary?! The pay mattered less than the title–but it was the first offer I got (I went through a staffing agency) and my parents would have killed me if I didn’t take it.

    I will say this–for what it’s worth–I don’t think sense of entitlement is something that goes away with age or experience, unfortunately. It’s hard to swallow, at any age, working with people who make way more than you do yet are dumb as nails or do nothing.

    The greatest thing that experience has taught me is that experience in the job world counts for a lot–so getting in there, at whatever title or salary level–is a necessary evil. I may have “only” been a secretary making $19,000 out of college, but that job taught me a ton. My best suggestion is to know that getting a foot in the door is the most important thing you can do–so don’t see title or salary as an end-game; see it as a jumping off point to the inside track to a great career. Plus paid vacation and health insurance 😉

    • September 8, 2009 6:52 am

      I think I had the same reaction, Maggie. I think once the reality check is over, you can fully grasp that experience is what will get you far – not a paycheck. Why work in a job that pays well, but you aren’t passionate about?

  4. September 7, 2009 6:42 pm

    Thanks for your comment, David. I agree with you that we have been stereotyped because of a few. Each generation seems to have had this “problem” (my mom grew up in the “hippie” generation, but boy, she couldn’t be further from…).

    I do think that once a young pro has proven him or herself, he or she should not sit in complacency (go ahead, you are allowed to feel like you deserve more once you have put forth the effort). I think that I may have had a skewed view of those who acted entitled whilst putting forth no effort where I grew up/went to college (terrible overgeneralization once again, but ask @stina6001 for verification). I think Lauren’s Young Minds Series will further your point that there are young professionals out there taking opportunities and making strides to become accomplished people.

    Kate Ottavio

  5. Sherri Haymond permalink
    September 8, 2009 8:28 am

    i think there are many “young people” (i shiver as i write “under 30s” for purposes of this comment) who are super talented and who’ve put in their time and learned a lot and have emerged as thought leaders in this (and many other) fields. I respect these young leaders tremendously – in fact, I’ve sought many of them out on Twitter and at networking events to connect with them and learn, well, how they learn so well…and so quicky…. But I’ve also met many – many, many, many, many – in that age group (hey, I’m not that far out of it…) that really do have a sense of entitlement and such confidence that it comes across as arrogance and, at it’s worst, ignorance.

    I also think there’s at least one whole blog post in what I’m about to write – I think Lauren’s cut-off for her “young people” series – 30 – is significant on so many levels and plays a huge part in why so many of these “under 30s” are emerging as the rock stars (that one works both literally and metaphorically…) of today. I think it goes back to when they started handing out email addresses as standard issue upon entrance to college. See, I didn’t get one. During my freshman year, you only got an email address if you signed up to take computer science. Of course I signed up, and I got one – but so many of my friends and colleagues just had no interest. What what email and why would we ever need it? But by my senior year, every one of my classes in my major (Literature – which at my crazy school meant Cultural Studies and Critical Theory) required some kind of online participation. And the year after I graduated – the incoming class of 1996 – every single one of a freshman’s classes involved email, chatrooms and internet eresearch. All of a sudden, those just five years younger than me were living in a whole new world – a world of instant access to information. And from here, I posit, grew the collective sense of entitlement. But I digress.

    I’m one of the “over 30s” that’s put in her time – in a big way. I think as with everything, in the end, you get out what you put in. And it’s “under 30s” like you – Kate and Lauren – who will sucessfully dispell the entitlement myth – one blog post and Twitter update at a time. You guys rawk – keep up the great work.

    • September 9, 2009 7:20 am

      Thanks, Sherry! You are too kind.

      I agree, I’ve stumbled across more entitled people than I’d like to admit – which is probably why the stereotype can be so true.

      Great comment.

  6. valeriehoven permalink
    September 8, 2009 9:42 am

    Worried about being too GenY myself, I asked some of the, ahem, “older” people in the office how I can overcome some of my GenY tendencies. They ALL told me that I will simply grow out of it. All of them said they were the same way. It’s not a GenY issue. It’s simply immaturity and/or ignorance. Everyone grows up. I will, too, some day.

  7. Michael Coffey permalink
    September 8, 2009 12:30 pm

    I have to admit this is my first time to this blog and I have enjoyed the comments made by all. From my experience those who outwardly show an expectation of entitlement are those that simply have not truly been through the situations in life that mature us all. I agree with Valerie’s comment that “Everyone Grows Up”.

    On a side note, I truly feel that entitlement is the evil in and of itself. This might just be me, but I have a hard time giving respect to those who demand it, no matter what the age is. What I get from what Kate was saying, was that those who actually stop talking and actually doing are going to be the ones that rise to the top. I have to admit, I myself have been one that talks a lot but at the end of the day, not one action was taken. This realization has caused me to take a step back even from “social media” and put more of my focus on action with less talking. I know that PR would kill me for that but my focus is first my family, second my job, and third communicating with those I have never met.

    I would love to get everyone’s thoughts on this, but I know this my cause a rabbit trail, what do you think social media has done to our generation? Has it encouraged entitlement or discouraged it?

    By the way Kate, your comment was humbling and that is one area that I trying to focus on more doing and less talking.

    Cheers to you all.

    • September 9, 2009 7:02 am

      Hi Michael – First, thanks for stopping by! It’s always refreshing to see new faces, especially when they have great points like yourself.

      I think technology has made some feel more entitled – for the pure reason that they grew up on it and just know more. Many older generations know exactly how to grasp it, while others shy away. I don’t know many Gen Yers that don’t understand or embrace technology. The knowledge that you know something others don’t can make you feel superior – especially when a company trusts you with their brand right off the bat (which I think is a terrible idea.)

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