Born this way

Born this way

Born this way

Perhaps there has never been a generation so misunderstood as today’s millennials. From being labelled as ‘entitled’ and ‘self-obsessed’, to being viewed as a key cog in the wheel that is the ever-changing and evolving society, people have usually embraced the opposite ends of the spectrum. However, the one undeniable fact remains that the millennials have truly ushered a change in workplace culture.

For decades, we Indians have been known to produce some of the brightest minds in the field of engineering and medicine. From the moment we step out of high school, we’ve been groomed to believe that the only two respectable professions are as either engineers or doctors.

In the past decade, however, we’ve seen a paradigm shift, not only in the way the society perceives professions, but also in prioritising as individuals. A big part of it has to do with how the millennials have instrumented a change in this train of thought — prioritising creativity and satisfaction over pay checks and fame.

The notion of a predetermined future can be reassuring, and equally infuriating. The generation gap, and the pace at which the technology — and hence the mindset of Gen Y — has evolved, has created a difference in how we see our roles within the society, from what it was a couple of decades ago. Gone are the days when job security meant being content with a desk job; today, we live in an environment where dreams and destiny are the driving forces, and not the longevity or security of a job.

Growing up, we were subjected to a world that was rapidly changing — from technological advancements to the dawn of the digital age; the millennials have inherited a completely different perspective. Looking at the world through different lenses was no longer a novelty, but a necessity. From an ideological standpoint, we witnessed a quantum leap in what was socially accepted, to challenging the norms, and questioning the very fabric of our being.

At the crossroads

I found myself in a familiar situation not too long ago; bright-eyed and optimistic, yet unflatteringly naive about the world, I found myself at crossroads by the time I got out of high school. “You’d do great as an engineer,” said a familiar voice — the voice of reason for any adolescent who, up until that point, was cocooned and, much like a deer caught in headlights, had no idea what to do once he was thrust to take on the real world head-on.

However, something very tangible transpired during this time. Rather than believing in the notion of ‘what is’, I understood the importance of learning by experience. A recent Deloitte survey found that over three quarters (77%) of millennials feel in control of their career paths, and unlike those from the bygone era, we believe in the power of destiny. No longer was I confined to the idea of security and cliched ideology.

By the time we got into college, different avenues opened up; our focus shifted from following in others’ footsteps to carving our own path. ‘Know thy niche’ became the new mantra, and the ideas which were already set in place became mundane. Looking back, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when the two paths diverged — the one that was laid for us, and the one we decided to venture in.

One of the tricky phases in my life came right after my graduation. While we, the younger generation, are often criticised for not giving much importance to the unwritten rules of society, it was at this juncture that I was forced to make a crucial decision. Would I be satisfied with being complacent, and add to the already-overwhelming population of engineers in the country? Or, would I rather take the risk of chasing my dreams — even if it meant venturing down the untrodden path? The answer, at least to me, was quite simple.

Sense of purpose

One other aspect that sets the millennials apart from the rest is a greater sense of purpose. It translates differently in the workplace for different individuals. According to a recent survey conducted by Talentedge, more than 16% of the millennials aged between 21 and 24 years spend more than 12 hours at work. Complacency has been replaced with the desire to grow, and the allure of greater financial stability is no longer prioritised over personal and professional satisfaction.

The other important aspect that has played a prominent role during this transitional phase has been what I like to call the ‘option of persuasion’. Corporations began understanding the importance of changing the workplace culture to pacify the needs and necessities of the millennials. The fact that a large portion of the workforce will be filled by Gen Y by 2020 has given the corporations the ammunition required to adopt a more growth-oriented approach. This has also been the primary reason for the growing number of entrepreneurs in India; the proposition of finding a balance between fulfilment and earning has seen us embrace the entrepreneurial mindset.

As one of Bob Dylan’s greatest hits goes, the times they are a-changin’. I understood at a very young age that I wasn’t cut out to be just another spoke in the wheel; I’ve always believed that the desire and will to succeed far surpasses every other emotion, while autonomy and flexibility have been the major driving forces in my decision to choose a career path. While the willingness to take these risks can often be misinterpreted as short-sightedness, as the old adage goes, it is what we leave behind that defines us.