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The Young Labeled 'Entitlement Generation'
AP ^ | 6/26/05 | MARTHA IRVINE

Posted on 06/27/2005 6:36:38 AM PDT by GPBurdell

By MARTHA IRVINE, AP National WriterSun Jun 26, 4:43 PM ET

Evan Wayne thought he was prepared for anything during a recent interview for a job in radio sales. Then the interviewer hit the 24-year-old Chicagoan with this: "So, we call you guys the 'Entitlement Generation,'" the baby boomer executive said, expressing an oft-heard view of today's young work force. "You think you're entitled to everything."

Such labeling is, perhaps, a rite of passage for every crop of twentysomethings. In their day, baby boomers were rabble-rousing hippies, while Gen Xers were apathetic slackers.

Now, deserved or not, this latest generation is being pegged, too — as one with shockingly high expectations for salary, job flexibility and duties but little willingness to take on grunt work or remain loyal to a company.

"We're seeing an epidemic of people who are having a hard time making the transition to work — kids who had too much success early in life and who've become accustomed to instant gratification," says Dr. Mel Levine, a pediatrics professor at the University of North Carolina Medical School and author of a book on the topic called "Ready or Not, Here Life Comes."

While Levine also notes that today's twentysomethings are long on idealism and altruism, "many of the individuals we see are heavily committed to something we call 'fun.'"

He partly faults coddling parents and colleges for doing little to prepare students for the realities of adulthood and setting the course for what many disillusioned twentysomethings are increasingly calling their "quarter-life crisis."

Meanwhile, employers from corporate executives to restaurateurs and retailers are frustrated.

"It seems they want and expect everything that the 20- or 30-year veteran has the first week they're there," says Mike Amos, a Salt Lake City-based franchise consultant for Perkins Restaurants.

Just about any twentysomething will tell you they know someone like this, and may even have some of those high expectations themselves.

Wayne had this response for his interviewer at the radio station: "Maybe we WERE spoiled by your generation. But I think the word 'entitled' isn't necessarily the word," he said. "Do we think we're deserving if we're going to go out there and bust our ass for you? Yes."

He ended up getting the job — and, as he starts this month, is vowing to work hard.

Some experts who study young people think having some expectations, and setting limits with bosses, isn't necessarily negative.

"It's true they're not eager to bury themselves in a cubicle and take orders from bosses for the next 40 years, and why should they?" asks Jeffrey Arnett, a University of Maryland psychologist who's written a book on "emerging adulthood," the period between age 18 and 25. "They have a healthy skepticism of the commitment their employers have to them and the commitment they owe to their employers."

Many young people also want to avoid becoming just another cog who works for a faceless giant.

Anthony DeBetta, a 23-year-old New Yorker, works with other twentysomethings at a small marketing firm — and says the company's size makes him feel like he can make a difference.

"We have a vested interest in the growth of this firm," he says.

Elsewhere, Liz Ryan speculates that a more relaxed work environment at the company she runs — no set hours and "a lot of latitude in how our work gets done" — helps inspire her younger employees.

"Maybe twentysomethings have figured out something that boomers like me took two decades to piece together: namely, that there's more to life than by-the-book traditional career success," says Ryan, the 45-year-old CEO of a Colorado-based company called WorldWIT, an on and offline networking organization for professional women.

As much as some employers would like to resist the trend, a growing number are searching for ways to retain twentysomething employees — and to figure out what makes them tick.

"The manager who says I don't have time for that is going to be stuck on the endless turnover treadmill," says Eric Chester, a Colorado-based consultant who works with corporations to understand what he calls "kidployees," ages 16 to 24.

At Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, for instance, administrators have developed an internship with mentoring and more training for young nurses that has curbed turnover by more than 50 percent and increased job satisfaction.

Amos at Perkins Restaurants says small changes also have helped — loosening standards on piercings or allowing cooks to play music in the kitchen.

And Muvico, a company with movie theaters in a few Southern states, gives sporting goods and music gift certificates to young staffers who go beyond minimum duties.

"If you just expect them to stand behind a register and smile, they're not going to do that unless you tell them why that's important and then recognize them for it," says John Spano, Muvico's human resources director.

Still others are focusing on getting twentysomethings more prepared.

Neil Heyse, an instructor at Pennsylvania's Villanova University, has started a company called MyGuidewire to provide career coaching for young people.

"It's a hot issue and I think it's getting hotter all the time," Heyse says of work readiness. "There's a great amount of anxiety beneath the surface."


On the Net:

Chester's site:

Heyse's site:


Martha Irvine is a national writer specializing in coverage of people in their 20s and younger. She can be reached at mirvine(at)

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: entitlementgen; entitlements; generation; genx; twentysomethings; young
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To: soundandvision

For me personally, going out on my own was not an option, it was a necessity if I wanted to make a decent living. If you have a decent sitution for yourself, that is great, but many do not and are really suffering.

Sadly, things are not like previous generations. Businesses demand loyalty but have none themselves.

Although it is hard and nerve racking, I could never see myself working for someone again if it means putting up with nonsense, office politics, BS claims of a bright future and pay raises, etc.

101 posted on 06/28/2005 6:59:30 AM PDT by chris1 ("Make the other guy die for his country" - George S. Patton Jr.)
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To: freedumb2003
But the point of the article is that Entitlement Generation kids had that stupid "self esteem" thing going -- awards for everyone! -- and now have to actually prove themselves and they are collapsing.

Do you base that opinion on anything other than stereotype? Seems to me the boomer generation is into self esteem nonsense more than their kids.

102 posted on 06/28/2005 8:15:02 AM PDT by NittanyLion
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To: freedumb2003
I guess I was part of the educational minority. We didn't have the faux self-esteem thing going, and the public schools I went to, the competition was fierce for education, and also for merit. If you got something there, you earned it.

I was also fortunate to have people as mentors who had remarkable work ethics, and positive self-esteem, which they earned. It rubbed off.

103 posted on 06/28/2005 9:44:55 AM PDT by Maigrey (TC, Kick that cancer in the @$$ - Texas Termite (shame on you with such language!))
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To: soundandvision
I'm currently in Telecommunications (in a 'provisioning' position). I've been doing this type of work for about 6 or 7 years

Right now people who know VOIP inside out are in huge demand. You could easily set up your own company to help local and regional ISPs provision VOIP into their networks, and get paid big bucks to do so. Buy used equipment off of eBay, set up your own VOIP integration lab, play around with creating VOIP solutions, test them exhaustively, and you could make bank on just selling VOIP solutions to small businesses dependent upon PBXs in your local area. Call around to the PBX solution providers in your area, pretend to be a small business, and get quotes on small 5-10 and 10-20 line systems, and figure out if you can under cut them with a system is slightly cheaper, easier to maintain, and offers more features.

.. it's certainly not my main love in life.

Well, I certainly wouldn't advise going into business for yourself in an area you aren't enthusiastic about. But there are plenty of successful examples of people turning what they really like into a business. It just takes some creativity.

104 posted on 06/28/2005 10:46:52 AM PDT by tyen
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To: NittanyLion
What? 15% of my wages? Damn right I'm entitled to them - I earned them after all.

I have paid the same 15% of earned wages for many years and I won't get a penny for all that.

Wake up. You're not entitled to a G--Damned thing except what you can legally hold in your hand.

If you were "entitled" to more you'd be the first generation in a century do be so blessed. Which has been my point all along.

105 posted on 06/28/2005 7:39:26 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: hinckley buzzard
I have paid the same 15% of earned wages for many years and I won't get a penny for all that.

If you can't recognize the fact that the government has stolen your money, that's your problem, not mine.

Wake up. You're not entitled to a G--Damned thing except what you can legally hold in your hand.

Might makes right, eh? You'd better get it into your head that not every law is aligned with the concept of rights and/or principles. Just because the government takes 15% against my will, doesn't mean I wasn't entitled to it in the first place.

If you were "entitled" to more you'd be the first generation in a century do be so blessed. Which has been my point all along.

Tell that to the folks who lived here pre-FDR. You may not realize it, but SS is a fairly recent institution.

106 posted on 06/29/2005 4:52:50 AM PDT by NittanyLion
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To: maxter

“What are your thoughts on investment accounts for younger workers as a part of saving Social Security. Like it, hate it, no use for it?”

Great idea. The Baby Boomers in power will not allow it.

107 posted on 11/22/2009 10:36:48 AM PST by Favor Center (Targets Up! Hold hard and favor center!)
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