By Gina Orlando, Intern, R&J Public Relations
While catching up on the news earlier this week, I was shocked and dismayed to see that Rachel Canning, a privileged 18-year-old girl from New Jersey, (as if we needed another thing to draw attention to this state) was suing her parents for private high school and college tuition, along with a weekly allowance and additional financial support. This young lady claimed that her parents kicked her out of their home when she turned 18. The counter argument is that she left voluntarily because she had no interest in abiding by her parents’ house rules regarding dating, curfew and chores.
The media uproar surrounding this case is that most young people (especially millennials) are thought to possess the same qualities as Rachel, such as feeling entitled, lack of work ethic and lack of respect, to name a few. I do not think this is true at all; I have heard many stories of young men and women (regardless of generation) acting similarly.
As a woman in my early twenties, I clearly remember what turning 18 meant to me– more freedom, yes, but also much more responsibility. I was taught, and reminded over and over when I would forget, that I had to work hard for what I wanted. This lesson was to be applied whether it was in school, at work or just life in general. My greatest concern for Rachel and others like her is how they will behave when they begin their first internship or job. Below are a few tips that that I would urge those newly entering the workforce to consider:
- Rules– Everyplace has rules; from your home and workplace to the supermarket and the mall, they all have a set of guidelines and restrictions. Rules are put into place in order to keep you safe, prevent chaos, and for many other reasons. In Rachel’s case, her parents tried to enforce reasonable rules on her (basically the same rules I had growing up), but she felt that they did not need to be followed. In a professional setting, disregarding the rules, even if they’re small or even unwritten, will get you nowhere. If your office has a dress code that does not allow flip flops, for example, you cannot just show up in flip flops because it is summer.
- Entitlement- Although you may be used to hearing that you are the greatest thing since sliced bread at home, once you step foot into the office for the first time, that will not be the case. Unless you continuously prove yourself through hard work, dedication and a job well done, you will not be entitled to anything or respected within your workplace.
- Work Ethic- Having a strong work ethic is a quality that all young professionals should embody. Whether you come from the richest neighborhood or the poorest, your work ethic, and more importantly, how hard you are willing to work, is what will ultimately get you to your desired position.
- Gratitude- Be grateful for the opportunities that are given to you. Rachel had unlimited opportunities to be successful as an honor student, athlete and future college student (not to mention coming from a privileged family), but was unappreciative for all that she has been given. In today’s workforce especially, it is important to be not only be grateful for your opportunities but also to make sure that you show your gratitude. There is a lot of competition out there for only so many jobs, so if you have one that is stimulating and enjoyable, be grateful.
I hope that when Rachel Canning looks back at this moment in her life, she regards it as a learning experience and applies some of these tips in her future endeavors. As an intern starting out in my first professional setting, I strive to live by them and encourage those who are beginning to enter the workforce to do the same.
“When we replace a sense of service and gratitude with a sense of entitlement and expectation, we quickly see the demise of our relationships, society, and economy.”
― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience