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Millennials: Not Cut From the Same Cloth

Tuesday, March 1, 2016   (0 Comments)
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Millennials – Not Cut From The Same Cloth

by: Peter Tokar, Economic Development Director, 

Alpharetta Department of Economic Development 

It pains me every time I see an article about the millennial generation or hear (mostly non-millennials) speak in a public forum about what we want, where we want to live, and what makes us do the things we do.  As to suggest that the millennials have been a well-studied research project, and here are the findings.  If there ever was a REAL study done, of ALL millennials, the rhetoric would be quite different.  Let's break it down from a non-scientific, non-focus group, non-survey point of view for a second because no generation can be summed up by a bunch of data.    

First off, I am the self-proclaimed grandfather millennial.  I am the oldest of the millennial generation at the ripe age of 35.  Now, depending on what report you have read, or who you have heard present, you might be saying, no you’re not!   Alas, that too proves that there is no definitive answer.  The generational timeline that I subscribed to years ago puts the millennial generation start at 1980 and ends around 2003 to 2004, let’s just go with 2003 for the heck of it.  That puts a 13-year gap between me, the grandfather, and the youngest of MY generation who are at best 22 years old.  35.  And 22.  Anyone?  Anyone? 

Think about where you were, what you were doing and where you were working at the ripe age of 22.  Maybe fresh out of college?  First job?  First apartment?  Now, fast forward to 35 years old.  Same picture?  Probably not.  AND THAT, my friends is the problem I have with the rhetoric going around about millennials..  It’s said that our generation only wants and needs mass transit and urban environments in which to live.  That we demand walkability and don’t own cars.  That we jump from job to job and want flexible work environments.  Why?  Because the millennials that they are interviewing are most likely exit interviews from kids leaving college in their 20’s!  When I was 22, I lived in an apartment, I lived downtown, I played in kickball leagues and went out at night.  Why?  Because that’s what you do in your 20’s! 

At 35, I am married, have 2 kids, own a house (outside the perimeter GASP!), own two cars, have been in my profession for over 10 years and love it!  And I have a ton of friends that are in the same boat as me.  Thirteen years is a quantum leap forward in your life from your 20’s to your 30’s.  Your priorities change, your life goals change, your relationships change, and that is not a bad thing!

From an economic development perspective, I believe the presentations about shaping your community to attract millennials has been misrepresented.  It all depends on which millennials you are trying to attract.  We are all familiar with what the young millennials want, we can’t escape that it’s in our face.  But the 30 something millennials, what are they looking for?  Quality housing, great schools, awesome downtowns, parks and amenities that still cater to an active lifestyle, but foster a family environment with great jobs.  So when you are planning out your strategy for millennial talent, try to keep in mind that we are all not cut from the same cloth.



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