I’ve learned a fair amount about millennials in recent weeks – now that I write that I’m not sure it’s correct; is the current batch of college students part of the millennial generation? I’m not going to break stride to look it up. I’ve been interviewing college students – whatever they’re known as collectively – for summer internships at the agency. I could now teach a Learning Annex course on how to interview for an internship – or any job, for that matter. Shite – is the Learning Annex still around or am I living in the past? Both?
This generation? Ends its sentences? As though they’re questions. It’s cringey – but I suppose it’s understandable; it’s their vernacular. My generation liked and um’ed its way through its early 20s. What surprises me more than the inflection is that their colleges and universities don’t guide them in interviewing do’s – including, I’d venture to say, speaking more assertively. Don’ts are limitless – do’s are easier to quantify. I “blame” the institutions because all of these candidates come to us through their schools’ career centers.
This group is also prone to beginning sentences with “So” – e.g. “Tell me about your courses this semester.” “So, I’m majoring in Communications …” I wonder where that comes from. I wonder where that comes from?
I’ve babbled before about the lost art of letter writing. Of the ten people we’ve interviewed thus far, we’ve received seven emailed “Thank You” notes and one “Thank You” card. An actual card, made from heavy paper stock, handwritten in ballpoint pen (you can’t have it all), placed in an envelope and stamped. That’s absolutely not the only reason we’ve accepted her into the program, but it didn’t hurt. On the flip side — and it’s highly possible that I’m expecting too much and that we now live in a world where language is treated much more casually than I’m willing to admit — but on the flip side is the email I received that said, “I learned about your internship through my career center and it would be awesome if you guys take a look at my resume.” With a cover letter like that it would be more than awesome, it would be the stuff of fantasy.
I asked a friend recently whether he still kept in touch with his ex-boyfriend; they broke up about a month ago. He said, “No, we’re not talking. I mean, he didn’t delete me from Facebook or anything.” I get it – Facebook deletion is a statement of sorts, but it’s also so easily done that it’s more of an impulse, really, than a message. We’re a mere keystroke from breaking up and reuniting; some of us have done so multiple times in the course of one night. Who’s to say (that’s a quote from the generation prior to this one) how pointed a statement “unfriending” is – when the definition of “friend” has become so mutable? I had a falling out with someone a while back and deleted not out of anger, but because seeing the friend’s news and photos just made me sad – like picking at a scab versus allowing it to heal.
“Unfriending” in the real world is painful, though sometimes it’s inevitable; sometimes people reach an impasse in communication. That’s why openness and willingness to listen are so very important; it’s the only way for relationships on any level to thrive. When I was very young I recall a teacher telling me how unhealthy it is to keep bad feelings inside, to harbor anger or resentment, how doing so can lead to all kinds of sicknesses. I don’t know if that had a direct impact on my need to purge my every thought, and I don’t know that doing so has necessarily made me a happier person. But I do know that most of us have an intrinsic need to be heard and understood – really heard and really understood – and that’s how I try to relate to other people. It doesn’t always work and I don’t always do it well, but if you are in my life, know that that is my intention.