7 Things Generation Y Can Learn from their Elders

Feature image above made on Canva

We often talk about how different Generation Y’s are from their predecessors, Generation X and the Baby Boomers generation. As the years pass, we’re becoming more and more flexible, open-minded and quick to adapt to changes.

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Graphic made on Canva

As a millennial, or in other words, a member of Generation Y, I’ve always questioned – are we inherently better than the Baby Boomers and Generation X that raised us due simply to the environment we’ve grown up in, and in turn, are we being beaten out by our younger and possibly more intelligent members of Generation Z?

This gap between generations is more obvious than ever in our globalizing world. In a cosmopolitan city like Hong Kong, majority of our time is spent at school or in our workplace, where these differences in behaviors and attitudes are hard to be overlooked. A phenomenon titled ‘Hong Kong Kids’, or simply ‘Kong Kids’ (‘港孩’) has become the talking point referring to those born in the mid-1990s to privileged families that place them at the centre of attention, resulting in them being spoiled with a false sense of entitlement.

The phenomenon of ‘Kong Kids’ shows that such a hierarchy certainly isn’t fair to the older generations, who didn’t have the fortune of being around a level of wealth and stability that we often take for granted. In fact, here are some things that millennials, currently the largest generation in terms of population, can learn from their elders.


1. A strong sense of responsibility

Image from The Blue Diamond Gallery

Generation X was also known as the generation of the ‘latchkey kids’, coming home to an empty house after school because parents were busy at work. They know that more often than not there’s no one around to clean up any mess they make, so they don’t risk it. In Hong Kong, many Generation Ys hardly ever come home to an empty house – their domestic helper are always around to whip up a meal for them or do whatever is asked of them. When it comes to taking the initiative to be responsible, especially when it may not be for their own personal gain, Generation Y has much to improve upon.


2. An understanding of the value of non-virtual interaction

Image from ComNetwork

I say ‘non-virtual’ because damn, we millennials don’t even make phone calls anymore. Everyone is a text or an email away, and unsurprisingly, Generation Y tends to be less confident in expressing themselves to others in person. This New York Times article remarks that calling, once prominent in the workplace, is dying down, and when it does happen is usually preceded by an email asking ‘Is it okay if I call?’. Our elder counterparts, especially Baby Boomers for whom phones weren’t even a thing, had to physically see someone to converse with them. If we lived a little more like they did and a little less with our noses in our smartphones, we’d be a more eloquent breed.


3. Stronger family bonds

Image from Doorsway Arizona

Previous generations valued time with parents and distant relatives, honoring family traditions to a tee. No matter how big a family, celebrations and special occasions always manage to bring them all together. These kinds of relationships are hard to come by, especially when members of Generation Y move into their twenties – and out of their parents’ home. Baby Boomers and Generation X harp on about the importance of these relationships, and they just might be right.


4. How to be a good team player

Image from Brocku

Younger generations are less enthusiastic in working with others trying to achieve the same goal. Whereas everyone at every point in time valued, or rather, values, success, millennials prefer to reach it on their own. The less competitive, more supportive drive of Baby Boomers and Generation X allows them to form longer term, fewer touch-and-go relationships, something many millennials can’t say they have many of.


5. Patience and perseverance

Image from WhyLeadNow

Millennials’ interests and passions stretch far and wide, and while that’s not a bad thing, it may mean a lack of focus. Older generations tend to be more consistent, sticking with their goals despite hardship. For example, an article on Forbes mentions that ‘job hopping’ is so common among millennials that they are predicted to have 15-20 different jobs over the course of their working lives. A survey written about in an SCMP article on the working attitude of Millennials finds that 54% of millennials were unsatisfied with their current jobs, and 80% plan to find something new. Baby Boomers and Generation X on the contrary prefer to stick to one thing allowing them to build more concentrated expertise and establish stronger connections.


6. A grounded sense of reality

Image from Isaac Mark on DeviantArt

Generation Y is told they can be anyone and achieve anything. Baby Boomers and Generation X grew up knowing that ambitions are good to have, but don’t always work out – and that’s okay. In a world of unpredictability, millennials should learn from their more experienced generation that finding the crossroads between dreams and reality is the key to success.


7. Being open and accepting of criticism

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Image from Intern Queen

A Business Insider article cites that one reason millennials suffer career-wise is their inability to take criticism. To them, positive feedback makes them feel great about themselves, but any comment that is in the slightest way negative can be devastating. The problem is that these remarks come from someone who’s been around much longer than they have, and they mean well. The older generations – usually the ones doling out this not-so-positive feedback – are used to constructive criticism and accept it as part of the learning process, and it’s time we millennials do the same.


Information adapted from:

Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy
Gen Z, Gen Y, Baby Boomers – A Guide to the Generations
Millennials v.s. Baby Boomers: Who Would You Rather Hire?



5 Emotions HKU Students Go Through During Add-Drop Period

Whether you’re a full-time or international student at HKU, you’ll know add-drop period is a roller coaster of emotions. Some semesters it’s more downs than ups, more sitting in front of a computer and tearing your hair out than actually going to lectures; other times you may get lucky and have even a relatively stress-free add-drop period. Regardless of what it was like for you the second semester of academic year 2015-16, you’ll probably be able to relate.

1. Impatience


It’s two days till the end of add-drop period, nine days since you moved that course from your temporary list to your enrolment schedule, and HKU Portal has the nerve to tell you it’s still pending. Wow. Very helpful, HKU. If I find out it’s disapproved the morning of the last day of add-drop, I’ll have a full six hours before the system closes to find a new course to take, check that the content is at least mildly interesting and that it fits to my timetable. Not stressful at all.

2. Helplessness


Okay, I’ve emailed the faculty which offers the course, the teaching professor and all three teaching assistants. The TAs tell me to talk to the professor, the professor says it’s all down to the all-powerful faculty, and the faculty responds that they’re overloaded with requests and are doing all they can to accommodate everyone. I’ve run out of people to bombard and tears to cry – now to carry on my day and accept there’s nothing I can do to speed up the process.

3. Panic


Good God. Breath, but let’s look at the facts: This course is a pre-requisite of three courses I want to take next year. If I don’t get approved, I can’t take ABCD2004, ABCD2011 and ABCD2034. Or I’ll have to push everything back by a semester, which means I won’t graduate on time. Or I’ll have to pick a different major. Either way, my entire course plan, university career and life from here on out will henceforth be derailed.

4. Confusion

Panicking won’t change anything. If I get disapproved, I’ll enrol in this course that’s still open. But wait – it seems that only two tutorial slots are still open – the Monday 8:30 and Thursday 1:30. There’s no way in hell I’m dragging my ass every Monday at the ungodly hour of 8:30, and joining the Thursday tutorial would clash with another course’s lecture, which means I’m back to square one. I give up. I don’t know anything anymore.

5. Happiness


Wait. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Or have I actually been approved?! The faculty gods do not hate me after all! There is light and good and hope in this world again! The relief that comes with seeing that beautiful word – approved – is hard pressed to be paralleled with any other joys. YESSS. (Proceeds to take a day off school and skip all lectures because this overwhelming happiness is to much to handle)