With the GM of Muffin Break serving up some half-baked theories about millennials and work, I suggest that its time we have a little chat, guys.
There’s an oft-repeated division between the generations, a war without end. One fought over breakfast tables, comment boxes and seasonal exchanges. The battle tale goes that we millennials are lazy, entitled, ungrateful, whatever; that what we know is complaint, we don’t know the merits of a hard day’s work, because they were too soft on us. That may very well be true, but it is also false. We’re subject to the same hand-me-down diatribes, best illustrated this week by the GM of Muffin Break.
If you missed it, she slammed millennials—a generation who the oldest of which is now almost in their forties—because they’re unwilling to work for free at a muffin chain. It’s surprising this company is still around, to be honest, considering how we millennials must surely be killing off the “stale muffins from a chain shop” industry, just like we’re killing weddings, diamonds and handshakes.
“There’s just nobody walking in my door asking for an internship, work experience or unpaid work, nobody,” Natalie Brennan said, according to News.com.au.
“In essence, they’re working for free, but I can tell you every single person who has knocked on my door for an internship or work experience has ended up with a job. Every single person, because they back themselves.”
Millennials are killing off many things that were always overwrought, and the murder of the unpaid internship would be considered the most justifiable of homicides.
Yes, how very surprising that people are no longer trampling over one another to work for free in one of the worst industries ever, service, where it’s basically an expectation that people will abuse or exploit you on a daily basis. Brennan espouses the classic view that any millennial will be familiar with from their parents, that to get a job they have to “get out there” and “knock on doors” and “be persistent”, despite the fact that things absolutely don’t work that way anymore. In fact, as Forbes noted, we chase the work, and we hustle for it. And when that fails, we create our own.
Ms Brennan sees her pastry chain as some sort of haven, the likes of which one must be truly the Right Kind of Muffin Person in order to work there. The fact of the matter is, for most people, working at goddamn Muffin Break—for any length of time, whether it’s their first or their tenth job—is a means to an end: to get paid, so they can pay bills. Places like Woolworths, Hoyts Cinemas and, clearly, Muffin Break always ask you on applications why you want to work there, and honesty is not valued in the response.
Millennials, the oft-maligned and constantly complained about the group—even the youngest of whom are years out of high school and likely have at least one university degree—are “entitled” and have an “inflated sense of self-importance” because we are unwilling to work for free? No, Natalie, we just feel like we ought to value our own time, especially because increased housing, education and insurance prices have made living in the cities of this country nigh-on impossible. So, yeah, we want money for our time so we can afford to live.
And guess what? We, the workers, are the service. We are not indebted to you, the boss, for giving us work. Work is a mutually beneficial relationship: you have work that needs doing and resources to pay someone to do that work, and we have the necessary skills to perform the work and need money in order to live. Both parties benefit.
Brennan, like many in the Old Person Yells at Clouds trope before her, says that followers on social media give us darn millennials this inflated sense of importance and how dangerous that is. No, what’s dangerous is pretending that your company is like a family, when really you’d dump an employee like a hot potato the moment they ask for fair treatment.
“Oh, but unpaid internships can lead to real, fully-paid jobs!” I can hear any number of idiots cry.
Yes, because working without pay is absolutely a tenable way to live in a world of increasing cost. Millennials are killing off many things that were always overwrought and that we think are dumb, and the murder of the unpaid internship would be considered the most justifiable of homicides. My brother, who works in the sciences, was astonished that there were industries—like all of the humanities—that actually offered unpaid internships. And it’s even more egregious that companies that work for pure profit, like Muffin Break, think it’s reasonable to ask you to work for free.
“But, why do people do them?” I remember him asking. “You’re doing work, aren’t you?”
Yes. Yes, we are. I mean, it’s either that, or we’re living the fantasy you are, where the anonymous toil and slog of untenable positions is its own reward. You’re either clueless, or jealous.
Yeah, see how it feels? We can corner the nonsense rhetoric market too.
The future is now, old man.