Trinity alumnus Jonathon Hernandez questioned the divide between baby boomers and millennials in an article for the Rivard Report titled “Millennials at Work, Wherever Boomers Make Room” on Feb. 3.
Hernandez, a class of 2015 graduate with a major in communication and a minor in Spanish, spent eight months searching for a job before finding employment as a staff writer at a local law firm. During his job search, Hernandez received criticism for his liberal arts degree and the stereotypes associated with being a “millennial.”
“I’m a lazy Millennial,” Hernandez wrote. “At least, that’s what I’m told by people who have never met me, let alone know me. But I’m here to tell you why we “˜lazy Millennials’ are not (only) lazy, but creative, aspiring and driven individuals.”
Hernandez applied to jobs for eight months after graduation.
“After going through four years at Trinity and hearing that you’re great over and over, not because you’re not but because you have a lot to offer and you received a great education. I thought I would be unemployed for a few months after graduation but I was unemployed for eight months. I applied to hundreds of jobs,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez was denied a position in the Medical Center because of his liberal arts degree.
“Perhaps the most shocking response I got came from a secretarial position I applied for in San Antonio’s bustling Medical Center. “˜I hesitate to hire someone of your age, especially with someone who has a liberal arts degree,’ the email read. I wish I had framed the damned thing,” Hernandez wrote in his article.
The article received a response from Edward Speed, a retired CEO of a financial services firm and chairman of the board at St. Mary’s University. Speed published an article in the Rivard Report titled “A CEO’s Advice to a Millennial: A Liberal Arts Degree Matters.”
Speed argued that a liberal arts degree is valuable in the workplace.
“Those who graduate with “˜business’ degrees have a slight advantage out of the gate, but this advantage fades fairly quickly. The proof of this, Mr. Hernandez, is that, as reported by Forbes, only 11% of all Fortune 500 company CEOs have a business degree. Personally, there is no doubt in my mind that my B.B.A. got me a job more than 40 year ago, but it was my liberal arts M.A. that got me to the CEO’s chair,” Speed said.
Speed further urged Hernandez to avoid waiting to be discovered.
“Avoid falling into the trap of the “˜waiting to be discovered’ syndrome. If you do, you’ll be tagged as a would-be Hollywood star waiting tables until the film industry finally realizes how great he is, repents, pays him homage and puts him in the latest blockbuster,” Speed said.
In response, Hernandez explained that he was not waiting to be discovered.
“I wasn’t waiting for seven months to be discovered. I didn’t post my cover letter on Craigslist and hope someone replied. I literally applied to hundreds of jobs, and I don’t think that’s waiting to be discovered at all,” Hernandez said.
Katie Ramirez, associate director of career services, explained that a liberal arts education has advantages.
“A liberal arts education from an employer’s standpoint is extremely valuable. It brings with it a diverse skill set, perspective and experience. If you take someone who takes a course that was required outside of their major “” it is very possible that that course in a different field of study will impact them later on in their lives,” Ramirez said.
Hernandez explained that his liberal arts degree has helped him in his position at the legal firm.
“I don’t have a legal background at all, but I’m surrounded by lawyers all day. People who have vast experience in criminal law and injury law. I can thankfully say that I’m able to keep up a conversation with lawyers because of my American Politics class,” Hernandez said. “At the time I was taking it as a requirement, but now it makes sense in real life.”
The first step to overcoming stereotypes associated with millennials is to prove that you are hardworking, according to Ramirez.
“The solution is really how you present yourself,” Ramirez said. “I am technically a millennial as well. In my first job, I had to demonstrate that I’m a hard worker and didn’t need someone to hold my hand. Part of that is just showing up on time, having a positive attitude and working as hard as you can. Instead of fighting it, I had to show what I did have to offer.”
Hernandez recommended that graduating students apply for positions in multiple fields.
“Don’t be afraid to apply for positions that aren’t in your field of study. I never in a million years expected to work in a law firm or an office setting. As cheesy as it sounds, don’t be afraid to look outside the box,” Hernandez said.
Ramirez pointed out that with every new generation, there is always tension.
“This generation is unique because technology has been a part of their lives since they were born. Every generational shift is going to have a lot of these same issues, so it is partially cyclical. But this generation is different because the media has picked up on the tension between millennials and stories have been shared online. There’s a lot of buzz about millennials,” said Ramirez said.
To overcome tension between baby boomers and millennials, Hernandez suggested that generations work together.
“What can we do to help bridge the gap between our baby boomer bosses and the Millennial generation?” Hernandez said. “We can work together “” whenever and wherever smart employers like the one I’ve found are willing to take a chance on us.”