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Understanding Millennial Culture

It was 8:30 a.m. on a typical Wednesday in Washington, D.C., and the Metro train was packed with people. Everyone was hustling and bustling to get to work. As the train made its stops, I held on to the handles and continued to keep watch of my surroundings. Not soon after, I overheard a group of former acquaintances catching up on their lives and current events. They started talking about the old neighborhood and how things have changed. Then, their conversation evolved into other topics including the recent political events. Soon after, I heard the phrase that usually makes my soul cringe “you see the thing about this current generation is…”

I did my best not to look over to let them know that I was listening intently. Instead, I opted to look straight ahead. As I did so, my eyes linked up with another rider who most likely was a Millennial herself because we simultaneously gave each other the same look of displeasure and braced ourselves with curious anticipation, waiting to hear what words would come next.

Understanding Millennial CultureThe phrase “this generation,” is synonymous to Millennials. It’s a buzzword — spoken everywhere from grocery stores to boardrooms. What’s even more interesting is that everyone seems to think they have the Millennial generation all figured out. Different people come up with their own opinions about what Millennials are and what they value but the truth about us really is, we’re not that different. We value the same things in life other generations before us value: a happy and healthy family, a satisfying career and the desire to influence change and make an impact.

In an article written for, Katherine Reynolds Lewis encouraged the readers to look beyond the stereotypes of Millennials and try to understand their individual needs and characteristics instead. She cited that those who top the list of companies from the “100 Best Workplaces for Millennials” are seeing gains in innovation and profits as a result of the support they provide to their Millennial employees. She also suggested that in the end, Millennial employees “want the same thing that every employee wants: schedule control, meaningful work relationships, and choice of projects and learning opportunities.”

So what happened on the train? What did they say? It turned out the group on the train was expressing how impressed they were with the bold and dynamic activism of “this generation.” They admired our courage to take a stand and speak out against injustice. They also admired our tenacity to do what was right.

I breathed a sigh of relief that day on the train. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that not all phrases that start out with “this generation” are negative and worthy of the death stare. In fact, there are people out there who genuinely seek to understand and embrace the differences and similarities that define the culture of the Millennial generation.

This article was written by Treneisha Jones Gaston.


  1. REPLY
    Kaleena says

    Great stuff!!Millennials have lots to offer. We have to because the baton is being tosssd to us whether we are ready or not. Each generation owes the next as much guidance and support as possible. Otherwise progresss is stagnated and ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’! I hope we millennials do it better and prepare Generation Z to be great. The future is waiting!

  2. REPLY
    Karen says

    Love the story! I’m a Boomer/X and I’ve never understood all the negativity toward Millennials. To my experience, we are more similar than different– we are just at different stages in our lives.

  3. REPLY
    Tammi says

    I too give the eye roll every time someone tries to preach about Millennials. The funny this is that every generation before us had their own version of “Millennials” to preach about. It is all about adapting and learning not to put people in a box according to a group. We are individuals which each value different things!

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