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May 9, 2016

Millennials – They Don’t Suck

By | Be Honest, Have Fun, Take Risks | 140 Comments

Why is everyone talking about millennials? Who they are (who they aren’t), what they do (or don’t do), why they suck (or are great), why they are self-entitled (or hard workers)…you get the point. It is endless. Millennials account for 23% of the U.S. population and spend 200 billion dollars annually. There are lots of funny videos pro and con millennials. You can check a few out here.

SoapBox staff is about 75% millennials. They don’t suck. They are annoying at times, but who isn’t? We thought instead of writing “about” millennials, we would ask one to share their story about transitioning from college to the “real world.” Sullivan, we call him Sully, has learned what life is like with a little structure, hanging out with old people (BTW I am 42 and in the “old” group), realizing that ignorance truly is bliss, and that his actions have impact on his life – both short and long term.

I wanted to poke fun at him, but instead, he backed me into a corner by writing a thoughtful, honest and reflective piece. I actually love it. I love that he is identifying lessons he is learning. I love that he misses his old life, but is all in with his new life. If you ever get to meet Sully, you will like him. He is cool. I might even buy him a beer after work one day – I think we would have fun.

PS – Sully, I am sure you are reading this. I think someone misinformed you about an 8 hour workday. That was part of the bait and switch. Get ready for 10-12 hour work days – that is when life gets super awesome. Congratulations. You have arrived. – JR

5 things I’ve learned from making the transition from college to having my first “real” job in California


1. 40 hour weeks are no joke.

I guess Cinderella was right. (The 80s hair band not the princess.) You truly don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Distant memories are the days where I could consider sitting through 3 hours of class and 2 hours studying a “long day”. Now I’m pinned to my desk for 8+ hours a day which leaves little time during the week for the social life I once had, no more long afternoons playing basketball in Johnson gym, and no chance to grab a beer (or three) at Marble. These were college traditions I still hold sacred yet now I’m learning ways to replace these routines as I’ve moved to a full time job at SoapBoxSample in a new state. (Disclaimer – that is Michael Jordan playing basketball not me, we have similar play styles though.)

Aside from finding new breweries and new basketball gyms I’ve had to learn how to prioritize my daily activities and manage my time better. Learning to optimize my time at work is vital to be able to deliver under the pressure of my daily deadlines.

2. I’m no longer surrounded by people my age.

My whole life I’ve been blissfully ignorant, thinking that wherever I go I’d be joined by a group of other people close to my age with similar likes and hobbies. I was awoken from this dream my first day on the job, learning that I will be spending most of my time with actual full grown real adult people (who would’ve thought). Initially I was confused by the common statement of “you’re my son’s age” or “you could be my kid” made by my colleagues and industry equivalents. Haven’t they seen a young man that’s about his business before? I’ve learned to laugh off these comments knowing that in a field such as market research the median age range tends to be over 30.

Hiring someone my age and placing them in such an active role truly speaks to the culture that SoapBox is trying to create. Being around Jaqueline as often as I have has also taught me that most adults are just older kids in their own right. So far I’ve enjoyed being able to gain some interesting insight and hear stories of some scary times known simply as “adulthood”.”

3. Mistakes come with consequences.

In college if I failed a test (happened more frequently than I had hoped) there was always some form of a redo available. I could work on an extra credit project, study harder and do better on the next exam, beg my professor for mercy, bribery, I’ve always had options. (Joking on the begging and bribery.. kind of) At any rate, I felt confident that if I performed poorly I could make it up in one way or another – I provided myself with a safety net. Having a career has completely altered my state of mind in regards to mistakes. Though I’m new to my role and make mistakes pretty often, they now come with real life consequences. Now I have to take into account my company’s reputation, my bosses expectations, and my job. Not just my GPA.

4. My career is in my hands.

It’s both an uneasy and exhilarating feeling knowing I’m truly on my own now. Being left to the wolves and expected to return with a fur coat is especially true in sales. My job is ultimately as fruitful as I want it to be. The harder I work the more I can attain from a salary standpoint. In school it was easy to coast once you received a solid grade, what is really the difference between a 93% and 98%? It’s very easy for people to let up after their first win and ride the wave of success for a while. As I grow, feelings of being content or rejected are things I have to surpass in order to be successful.

A valuable lesson I learned in baseball – keep a short memory. Whether I get yelled at by a client or land a $20,000 deal, I’m learning to celebrate or sulk momentarily, forget what has happened and move onto the next task.

5. Tackling the world’s worst question – “what do you do?”

To me this question is outdated and poorly designed. Asking “what do you do” quickly puts someone in a box and defines someone strictly by their career, but that’s beside the point. At family gatherings this question wasn’t as daunting as it is now that I’m out of school. I could easily answer this question by saying that I’m still in college (yes Aunt Paula I know you remember me when I was just a baby) and stating my major. Now that I work in market research I’m beginning to realize why this is such an uncomfortable question. My boss Jacqueline sums it up best when asked what we do in market research business development “we sell people”.

Moving from Albuquerque to Los Angeles hasn’t been the super seamless transition that I envisioned it being. Aside from learning many things about myself in the process, SoapBox put me in a role where I am tasked to learn an entire industry and learn how to sell our offerings as if it were a glass of lemonade at a lemonade stand. Sounds simple enough right? It’s definitely been a work in progress but with continued support from my team at SoapBox and weekly basketball and brewery fixes I’m confident I’ll end up where I want to be.

— Sullivan