Generation Y: A View from the Inside

My series of articles about Generation Y has given me the chance to talk to a lot of Gen Yers. I’d like to give you the same opportunity, so for this article, I’m turning my keyboard over to a Gen Yer and have asked her to give you her perspective on what makes her generation tick.

Born in the 1990s, Liberty was home schooled and is heading out of state to college in a few months. Listen closely. She and her friends will be your next renters.

Hello! I’m one of those mysterious people who make up Generation Y, the generation everyone is trying to understand. I’m not even sure if we understand ourselves! However, I’ll try to give you a glimpse into the way we think. I hope it’ll be helpful to both of us.

When I was asked to write this blog entry, I thought, “Wow! Speaking for my generation is quite a responsibility. I’d better get my friends’ opinions.” Being the busy girl that I am, I did that in the most effective way: typing up a brief note on Facebook. I asked my fellow Gen Yers to fill out a survey. That night as I slipped into bed, I reached for my BlackBerry to see if anyone had completed it. Two friends already had. I sent a quick thank you, turned off my lamp, and closed my eyes.

Then it hit me.

Though I’m not particularly techno-savvy, I’d just proven to myself truths about my generation.

Communication is important. But the method of communication is everything.

Are you listening to Generation Y?With the advent of social media like Facebook, and technology like smartphones (through which you can check social media 24/7), old methods of connecting with folks just aren’t cutting the cake. If I want to reach my friends instantly, I text. If I don’t mind waiting until the end of the day to hear back, I use Facebook. And if it doesn’t matter when I get a response, I email.

Gen Y was born and bred in a world that seems like it’s always one minute behind schedule. These days I sit down at the computer to connect less and less, while I use my phone to check my inbox and newsfeed more and more.

However, there are still some things that the widescreen monitor is better for, like shopping online! The other day my friend was over, describing a purse she’d fallen in love with. Hopping in front of the computer, she pulled up the store’s website. Minutes later, we’d already seen the purse and were browsing other sites for cute shoes.

My friends had a lot to say about online shopping in my survey. One said she likes shopping via the Internet because of the deals she can find and the amount of ground she can cover in such a short time. Another said store websites speak volumes to her; they’re a telltale sign of how much owners have invested in their company. Browsing the Internet is a great timesaver for me. Rather than wasting time going to a store that might or might not have the item I want, I can see if it’s in stock with a few clicks.

The Web might be the bait, but the personal encounter determines the final catch. When shopping, Gen Y uses the Internet as a scope to narrow choices. For the final decision, we’re like anyone else: We like to carry out our decision face to face. And that’s mostly because we like social interaction.

If you get anything out of this blog entry, get this: Gen Y is social. (See, you might have thought that teenager huddled over his cell phone was being antisocial, but he was really being astoundingly social, juggling texting, Facebook, and email all at once.)

Community and camaraderie are crucial to Gen Y. We want to be a part of something important—together. That’s why friendly interaction means so much. People of all generations appreciate honesty, loyalty, and frankness. (In other words, “being real.”) Gen Yers want those attributes in everyone they interact with, from a salesperson to an employer.

It’s difficult to speak for an entire generation. So many voices try to generalize our actions, but we’re still individuals with individual preferences. The secret to truly understanding us is to understand the social and technological world we’ve grown up in.

The Monday Morning Meeting with Joanna Ellis is a monthly series examining the impact of Generation Y on the multifamily industry and discussing how to successfully do business with them.


Part 1: The Future Renter…What’s Next?
Part 2: Three Ways to Grab the Attention of Generation Y
Part 3: Getting to Know Your Generation Y Coworkers
Part 4: How Does Generation Y Perceive Your Green Initiative?
Part 5: Get the Inside Scoop on Generation Y with Our Summer Reading List


President and Owner, Ellis Partners in Mystery Shopping

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Joanna Ellis is CEO and Owner of Ellis Partners in Management Solutions (EPMS) and Co-owner of Renter’s Voice. Under her direction, Ellis has established itself as the premier apartment mystery shopping company in the nation, as well as a respected provider of multi-touch point resident surveys, as part of their retention-focused customer experience program. Current clients include most major apartment developers, management companies, and REITs. Through Renter’s Voice, Ellis helps clients promote and respond to authentic and objective apartment reviews. Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business from Texas A&M, Ms. Ellis has spent more than 25 years in the multifamily industry, and she now holds both the Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) and Certified Apartment Property Supervisor (CAPS). She is also a licensed Texas Real Estate Agent. In honor of EPMS’ reputation for integrity, the Dallas Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals awarded Joanna, on behalf of the company, the 2008 Greater Dallas Business Ethics Award for mid-size companies.

  • Chuck Garrett

    Great read – thanks Liberty!

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