It has come to my attention YET AGAIN that many feel that Millenials (b. 1981-2001) have a sense of entitlement; that they expect too much.
While I'm sure there are those within the generation who fit that mold, I disagree with its overarching characterization of the generation.
Every generation has its own culture. Individuals may or may not strongly identify with it (or identify much at all), and after all they might consider a different culture to be more relevant to them on a personal level (i.e. country-of-origin, socio-economic, professional - "jock" vs. "nerd", etc.)
Because every generation has its own culture, interactions between generations can be misunderstood in exactly the same way any representatives from any two different cultures might misunderstand each other: they look at each other through the lens of their own context.
Specifically in the case of Millenials, they were nurtured in groups. Watching Millenials as kids - they were like a litter of puppies: They were put onto project teams as early as preschool; my son actually took group final exams in high school. They were shoved into clubs and sports teams and then told to found their own in the competition to get into good colleges. They formed ad hoc "startups" with their roommates, and many of these lasted long enough to do at least one useful project. They want to land in big companies, do good for society, and generally approach life optimistically and positively. They BELIEVE in the concept of Social Contract.
Contrast this to the Baby Boomers and GenX: Boomers were encouraged to be individualistic. They revered the lone visionary, the breakthrough artist. They talk about and fought for personal freedoms. GenX were the ones who turned the tide, against unfettered individual excess but not willing to assume social cohesion, GenX were the kids who couldn't even trust the social contract their dad made with their mom... but because of that, they knew what it was, they valued it, and most of us spent our careers searching for ways to build that back in.
So what we've got here are Millenials - people who DEMAND that social contracts be honored. They're being evaluated by GenX and Boomers. There are GenX who either think they're spoiled ("Social contract? Dreamer!") or are misty-eyed that the world is being set right again ("You can trust? We've healed!")....and Boomers who are either used to heaping disdain on GenX and forgot to stop ("You made a bad choice? Whose fault is that? You disgust me!") or who are Shocked that their lovely, obedient children, who spent their childhood paying into the social contract by benignly taking parental advice, now have the expectation that they're to get something in return ("Well, there are no *promises*...") or continue to expect the social contract to work in their favor ("Oh you young people are so wonderful! Who wants an underpaid internship?")
Personally, I'm in the misty-eyed GenX group. I think Millenials demanding that they are considered part of the social fabric after following instructions and jumping through hoops is a healthy(ish) thing. I'm really sick of hearing about their sense of entitlement, when what we're actually saying is that their parents taught them to believe that if you are a team player, and you do what your team asks, you'll be rewarded. If greedy parents led those expectations to be too high, it's the parents' fault.
I think the Millenials are about to shock us all with their fierce allegiance to social cohesion and social justice. I think some GenX will come through as modern day Pattons, leading the Millenials through the ersatz minefields to get into a strong position from which to end the destruction of the planet.