I still think about that Tuesday night dinner when my 22-year-old daughter told me she was leaving her full-time job at a Silicon Valley startup. Not only did she break it to me that she was quitting, she also casually threw in the news that she was moving across the country. Oh, and did I mention she was moving to start her own business?
Valerie was starting her own business?
That's an endeavor I didn't consider until I was years into my career -- and one I certainly hadn't fathomed my daughter would pursue after a mere 16 months in the workforce.
After my college graduation, I pursued a traditional -- at the time -- career path: I paid my dues consulting at Bain & Company for two years, then earned my MBA from Harvard. After that, I flew to the Middle East to work on economic development programs. Boarding that flight was considered the craziest move made by anyone in my graduating class. And it's one I still celebrate.
So, why couldn't I handle my daughter telling me about her own "crazy" career move?
The truth is I know she's actually behaving as she should. Among millennials, to be "different" is expected. But I can't help but wonder: is my daughter part of a millennial statistic?
Elance-oDesk (where I work) recently partnered with Millennial Branding on a new study, "The 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce."
Because they will become the largest generation in the workforce in 2015 and because I am the mother of a millennial, the study's findings intrigue me. What is causing such a defined break in how generations approach work, and why are millennials just so different?
1) It is easier than ever before to start a business.
More than 8 in 10 millennials agree that technology is making it easier to become your own boss. Technology has leveled the playing field by opening up access to the assets necessary to start a business: funding, talent and shared resources.
What does this mean for millennial entrepreneurs? It means it's easier than ever before to find freelancers on the Internet and to assemble virtual teams with the right talent to ignite a new venture.
Overall costs -- including technology infrastructure costs -- have come down by an order of magnitude, lowering barriers to entry for new businesses.
2) Technology provides liftoff to the first generation of digital natives
Nine in 10 millennials agree they can access information whenever and wherever they need it. A Google search for "online PHP course" or "content writing class online" yields thousands of results, many of them for instructional videos and actual classes from Coursera, General Assembly, and countless other online education platforms.
The ability to instantly get smart when facing a new challenge is changing the way we work. Today, if someone needs a landing page, a web search and a few online videos later, they'll have tools to move forward. This ability for independent execution of ideas lets young people realistically consider the alternatives to a corporate job.
3) Millennials are reinventing work
Millennials have gotten a bad rap in the news: they're selfish and entitled. But, are these really their defining characteristics?
Not surprisingly, about 8 in 10 of the hiring managers we surveyed said millennials are more tech-savvy than previous generations. They also overwhelmingly see them as more creative and adaptable.
This is not surprising to me. The world of work is so different today that millennials have had to reinvent how to work in order to be successful in this fast moving business world, where team members are more distributed and hiring is more on-demand than ever.
I've realized that Valerie and thousands like her are paying their dues -- just like we did. They are just paying them in a different way. I look at this generation and value their confidence and "can-do anything" attitude. I can't help but wonder what more could be accomplished if we all embraced their ability to look the possibility of failure in the eye and not flinch.
I imagine we'll know in a few short years.