Millennials: The New Breed of American Worker

Marriott International Inc.’s Scholar Program helped Eldridge Betts pursue his dreams.

In 2008, Eldridge Betts realized he didn’t have enough money to continue studying for his associates degree in culinary arts. So he applied for Marriott International Inc.’s Scholar Program, which the hospitality chain launched in 2007 to increase and diversify its talent pipeline. Through the program, scholarship recipients can receive as much as $9,000 annually toward tuition assistance for up to four years, as well as internship and mentorship opportunities.

Having been accepted into the Scholar Program, Betts is now a student at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and aspires to own his own restaurant one day. During summer and winter breaks, Betts, 21, works as a line cook at JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Orlando, Florida. His responsibilities include cooking and prepping food for as many as 5,000 people per event.

Betts is one of 75 million people born after 1980 known as Millennials. And though his career appears to be advancing well, statistics suggest that many of his professional peers, ages 18 to 29, may not be as fortunate. Full-time employment for this group has dropped from 50% in 2006 to 41% in 2010, but the economic outlook for this group is encouraging. Described as a generation that is resilient and optimistic about their futures, Millennials–according to a recent Pew Research Center survey that surveyed 2,020 older adults and Millennials in January on their political and social values, lifestyle, digital technology, and social media habits–are on track to become one of the most educated generations in America’s history.

The professional attitudes and work style of Millennials has been the subject of a variety of studies, including one recently conducted by Mr. Youth, L.L.C., a marketing agency based in New York City, and Intrepid, a research and consulting company. Mr. Youth and Intrepid drew several conclusions about how this group functions in the workplace. They are more inclined to leverage diversity and teamwork, value ideas over experience, and reward performance over seniority.

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