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Millennials: The Multi-Taskers

BY RELEVANT ISSUE 59 / LIFE August 15, 2012

Jobs used to be functional. You’d add “-er” to the end of what you did, and you’d be set. Lawyer. Teacher. Photographer.

For Millennials, career paths are a bit more complicated. Jobs are less functional and more symbolic of who Millennials are as a whole. They’re as complex as we humans are.

According to DeVry University and Harris Interactive, 22 percent of Millennials expect to work for six or more companies during their professional careers. They will often be found working more than one job at once. They spend an average of two years at a company, and only 7 percent work for Fortune 500 companies.

Ross Martin, from Viacom’s trendspotting division, Scratch, told Forbes, “Millennials aren’t just position players. They don’t just play first base or left field. They are ‘athletes,’ and their external hard drives are wired to do many things at once.”

There are a few reasons for this. For starters, this generation has a lot more on its mind than stability, with a steady paycheck holding less appeal than the freedom to pursue goals. Also, ideas of what constitute a “career” have trended broad and loose in recent years.

“Life isn’t all about work to them,” says Sandy Thompson of Young & Rubicam advertising agency. “They aren’t working just to get a paycheck, but to make a difference.”

Of course, the difference they make just might be how people perceive jobs.