The millennial generation: common experience guiding them into adulthood

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Southern New Hampshire University
The Millennial Generation, those born from 1980-2000, see the world from a different viewpoint. This distinctive cohort has structured their lives in a different manner than preceding generations. The introduction and influence of social, political, and technological changes over the past few decades have structured Millennials’ unique and sometimes unclear characteristics and behaviors. Dividing and defining people by their birth years can seem like a subjective generalization. However, Howe and Strauss (2000) argue that shared experiences during formative years within a cohort result in a distinctive generational bond resulting in common attitudes and behaviors. Millennials have been labeled as one of the most overprotected and enabled generations in history, and mentors are uncertain how to beneficially nurture this generation as they transition into adulthood (Lykins & Pace, 2013: Twenge et al.). Generations are shaped by the dynamic interplay of history and popular culture, which can form a lens for understanding a generation’s collective nature (Mannheim, 1928). To determine what the future holds for the Millennial Generation as they transition into adulthood, one should closely examine their formative experiences and construct a socio-psychological portrait (Ng, Schweitzer, & Lyons, 2010). By clarifying the process that formed their adulthood, we gain a clearer understanding of what it means to them to be an emerging adult in the Millennial generation. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the Millennial Generation’s perceptions of how their formative experiences have affected their transition into adulthood. It was my intention through this phenomenological study to view the Millennial Generation’s common formative experiences through the lens of the Theory of Generations, Theory of the Emergent Adult, and the Gestalt Theory and link their unresolved familiarities to their current behaviors and mindset as they emerge into adulthood. The researcher investigated the following questions: How do the Millennials describe the experiences which have guided their transition into adulthood? What common formative experiences are predominant within the Millennial Generation? How does the Theory of Generations, Gestalt Theory, and Emergent Adulthood Theory aid in understanding the mindset of the emergent Millennial adult? Due to the nature of this study’s qualitative inquiry a phenomenological methodology was pursued. This methodological design was steeped in the idea that the researcher would explore the cultural phenomenon of society from the point of view of the subject of the analysis. In Phase One of this emergent design, a preliminary survey was employed to select the final three subjects. The data collected from these three selected participants during Phase Two followed the semi-structured, in-depth interviews of Seidman’s (2013) Protocol. Combined with the interviews participants were asked to use artifacts to aid in eliciting personal information necessary for the development of a story. Collecting data from three sources – interviews, artifact elicitation, and surveys – aided in revealing richer data concerning the topic of the Millennial Generation. The researcher chose five lenses through which to proceed with this study: belief, influence, growth, values, and self-values. These lenses emerged and developed during value coding. The researcher expanded and further defined Miles, et al.’s, (2013) three main attributes: values, attitudes, and beliefs in order to fully isolate and describe the experiences the participants were sharing. These five lenses were grouped into meaningful categories to capture and describe the Millennial’s common experiences in regards to belief, influence, growth, values, and self-value. The Millennials through these five lenses described themselves and how their experiences were different or unique from the generations that preceded them. Overall, the data findings suggest that the mind set of Millennials is based on a desire for educational growth through experiences, a belief that family is the nucleus of life and a support system for reasoning, values which align with their ideals on living an authentic existence, growth through their personal journeys, and focusing on self-values through a desire to serve in the best interest of all humanity. (Author abstract)