A young woman strides into a Midtown Manhattan office tower, freshly graduated from college, résumé in hand. She steps off the elevator into the offices of her favorite women’s magazine only to find the front desk has been momentarily abandoned. Sensing an opportunity, she pokes her head into a side door, accosts a passerby, and says she’d like to see the managing editor. Well, no…she doesn’t have an appointment, technically, but she does have a great idea for a new column, samples of which she manages to press into her host’s hands before being quickly ushered out the door. What was she thinking: that big, fancy magazines handed out assignments like they were participation medals?
True story, but the protagonist isn’t a pushy Millennial. It was me, a Gen X-er, circa the late ’90s, infiltrating the headquarters of JANE magazine. My friends and I had just moved to New York and, not knowing a thing about job hunting, did what we thought we needed to do to land one. (One friend’s borderline-stalkerish philosophy: “When one door closes, go through the window.”) Now having acquired the perspective of a busy magazine editor, I cringe when I think back on what I did. While I appreciate my Twentysomething office-crashing self’s enthusiasm, if she barged into my office today, I’d probably mark her up with my red pen.
There was no time for such interruptions this month, as our staff reviewed data, talked to experts, and surveyed our readers in order to better understand Minnesota’s two largest and most influential generations: Millennials and Boomers.
In the course of our research, we found plenty of striking distinctions, between rates of marriage, educational attainment, and racial diversity—not to mention use of the selfie. Yet we also discovered many ways in which the groups are more alike than you’d think.
From the kids blaring rock-and-roll to those dressing in flannel, differentiating from one’s parents is a time-honored tradition. Or, as one of our sources, U of M professor Tai Mendenhall, put it: “Every generation, or at least as long as we’ve been keeping track, has upset the generation before.”
Photo by Erika Ludwig, hair and makeup by Margo Gordon