Do You Have the Competitive Edge? How to Stay Ahead of the Millennial Pack

In the global business world, the Millennial is no longer working for you, but rather with you. But what if you are the Millennial, how do you discern yourself from the crowd? Consider getting your MBA abroad.

Millennials, the most learned generation to date, with over 92 million plus in the United States and 1.8 billion globally, they are a force to be reckoned with. i The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this generation saturated the workforce in 2015 becoming the largest cohort, and they are here to stay. ii Forbes estimates Generation Y, or the Millennial Generation, for the purposes of this article, will represent 75% of the US labor force by 2030. iii

Shaped by the digital age, it is not only their sixth sense for technology that sets them apart. Never before has a generation been so connected, so ethnically diverse and tolerant of their differences. Optimism, despite the odds, has been their strong suit. Faced by the tragic events of 9/11, mass shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech to name a few, natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in 2004 that ravaged Southeast Asia haven’t dulled their spirit and drive to succeed in spite of challenge and strife. With the mantra “follow your dreams” inspiring the masses, there’s no mountain too high or problem too arduous to overcome.

As with every generation, there are certain characteristics that set them apart, and it is no wonder in today’s world of interconnectedness that their unique personality is one of great value.  That is not to say they don’t ruffle a few collars as they set their sights high, climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder or opening their own businesses. Students, employees and even bosses from the Millennial age face adversity trying to see eye to eye with the ambitious, workaholic Baby Boomer, often times their parents’ age or older and the independent, resilient Generation X, but it’s okay. They are a young and determined generation, hungry for change and willing to grow.

It’s that willingness to grow, to stay ahead of the pack, that is a key to understanding the Millennial mindset. Psychologist and Generation Y researcher, Jean Twenge, reports that Millennials are focused, setting extrinsic life goals. iv These goals, focused on rewards and the positive evaluation of others, really exemplify this generation that grew up with reality TV, Apple and helicopter parents hovering around, making sure their child’s every experience was everything it could be and so much more.

This eagerness for self-improvement is two-fold. Often thought of as overly confident and self-absorbed, the Millennial is a rock star at personal branding. At first glance this may appear conceited, but it actually has a lot to do with self-reflection. Millennials are very keen on making life decisions that are in line with their passions. In doing so, they direct their energies into realizing the most advantageous methods to achieving benchmarks along the way, and education is a fundamental component to the realization of the future they envision.

The US Census Bureau reported an average 72% of students are graduating with a high school diploma, the highest figure in over two decades. Of these students, 68% are attending college. Out of the number of students who enter a four-year institution, an expected 58% will receive a BA or BBA degree within a six-year period. v

72% of students are graduating with a high school diploma

Becoming the most educated generation is no fluke; there are two reasons Millennials have risen through the ranks. When stock markets fell and the economic crisis plagued nations in 2008, job opportunities shriveled, leaving no room for recent grads to enter a very static workforce. The Millennials took this setback in stride and found refuge in the sphere of academia. With time on their hands, they knew that getting an education would be a sound investment in a very unsteady economy.

23% higher wages for MBA and master’s degree holding millennials in comparison to their counterparts in 1984

The Millennial not only had the time, but also had the insight. This generation, unlike any other, saw the correlation between education and potential financial prosperity. The investments are high, but the US Census Bureau reports no other demographic factor has a bigger impact than that of education on salaries.  The PEW Research Center did a study that revealed Millennials with a master’s degree or MBA are earning 23% more than their counterparts in 1984. The salary margin between those with a high school diploma and a college degree can be calculated in the millions of dollars over a forty-year period. Tuition is expensive, but the return on investment has propelled those with this insight to find any means to finance it. vi

Fulltime employed college graduates, from 25-32 years of age, are earning $17,500 than their high school counterpart

The Pew Research Center further explains the current disparity between those with and without higher education. In a recent study, they reported that Millennials between 25-32 years old holding full time jobs earn on average $17, 500 more than their less educated, high school graduate counterpart. The Research Center further explains college graduates are more likely to gain fulltime employment than the less educated. Comparing the numbers, 89% versus 82%, these figures are further exemplified by unemployment, a drastic 3.8% college grads face unemployment versus 12.2% high school alumni.

A drastic 3.8% college grads face unemployment versus 12.2% high school alumni

As stated before this a growing trend. Millennials see the value of education, and the impact it will have on their future careers. A reported 83% of college graduates stated that the investment in their higher education paid off. In a more refined market of post graduate degree holders, 69% said their education was “very useful,” and in this sect holding their graduate or professional PHD explain their education made them more competitive, affording them the tools in their applicable fields and preparing them for employment, an astonishing 15 percentage points higher than those with a BA. vii

A reported 83% of college graduates stated that the investment in their higher education paid off. In a more refined market of post graduate degree holders, 69% said their education was very useful

Earlier generations, the parents and grandparents that raised this new avant garde, the fearless leaders in tech and social connectedness, were spot on when they drew upon their own wisdom and experience. Regaling the young twenty & early thirty some’s with the fact, many have already embraced, that higher education is the single, most direct route to a good job, which in turn correlates to greater financial satisfaction, feelings of purpose and overall success.

This consciousness has had an impact on those institutions in the business of facilitating this education so many strive to afford. Talking numbers, post-secondary and graduate institutions are feeling the pinch. In order to sustain enrollments, these institutions are being driven to take a more cost effective approach to offering high-quality education around the globe.

This is not the only impact the Millennial Generation has had on these colleges and universities. Generation Y, has forced these institutions to adapt to the coming of a new age in the ways they communicate and educate. The classroom has transformed, retaining small fragments of traditional education methods. It has become an informal learning space, incorporating more preferred, group based, practical learning into curriculum. Professors have had to cope with and evolve in order to field a student body that is more optimistic than past generations. They want special treatment, a clear set of expectations, especially for exams and are not afraid to challenge the professor or authority figure when they feel an injustice in grading or treatment has been done. Students want to feel a sense of structure, at the same time being free to engage in learning from a variety of angles. The innovative classroom is one that feeds the students high expectations. viii

Institutions are adapting to the new age of teaching and the innovative classroom

Professors are expected to be accessible, approachable, entertaining and connect lessons to real life scenarios. Often times, universities are hiring professionals in their fields, in greater numbers than before, with years of experience and success, in order to field this greater demand for everyday practicality.

It is all about balance. Whether it is in school or at the office, Millennials want to be involved. “They are no longer working for you, but rather with you. ix They expect to be treated fairly, with ongoing feedback and recognition.

What sets them apart from their peers?

Education and ambition. Making the decision to enroll in a post-graduate program already sets the bar high above the rest, but finding the right program is the key. With tuition costs on the rise, students either have to take out loans or look for other economical options. Many private universities and state sponsored institutions are now reconfiguring their offering to stay competitive, sustaining their enrollments.

Students have a huge choice to make. It is only the first step of many realizing the investment in higher education will produce significant returns.

Paul Ollinger, Standup Comedian and Author of You Should Totally Get an MBA: A Comedian’s Guide to Top US Business Schools uses humor as a mode to impart advice to business school applicants of all ages, but his advice can go beyond this demographic. After completing his MBA studies at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, Ollinger decided to endear readers with a letter to his 25-year-old self, explaining the business school application process and the benefits attributed to earning an MBA.  Below are only a few of such benefits that not only apply to MBA programs but graduate studies in general, distinguishing the already highly sought after Millennial from his or her contemporaries. x

  1. Business Relationships Are Priceless

When it comes time to entering the workforce you want to have a network behind you.Graduate school is the prime time to start networking and building those connections with peers, professionals in the field and professors that will open doors and shed light to opportunities post-graduation.

  1. Business School Will Heighten Your Professional Standards

Graduate studies come at a price, and it is not for everyone. Those that do choose to make the investment past their BA or BBA degree are out to be the best. The eagerness to succeed propels students to find any and all means to stand out. Achieving top grades are not always enough, students often seek opportunities outside the classroom to get involved in internships, volunteering and innovative projects that will distinguish them from the crowd.

  1. Understanding How Business Interrelates

Curriculum is meant to foster a deeper understanding of various aspects of business and how they relate to one another, from marketing and corporate finance to operations and statistics. The business principles learned during undergraduate studies will come full circle and have a greater, more practical meaning.

  1. An International Experience

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, more than half of prospective MBA students globally look for study abroad master’s degree programs. Being exposed to different nationalities and ethnicities help students understand and interact in a global economy. xi

More than half of prospective MBA students look for master’s degree programs abroad

What better way to enhance the resume or CV and distinguish yourself from the competition! Studying abroad not only satisfies the educational component, but often times these universities are more diversified, creating a learning environment that embodies one of the Millennials main core values.

Returning home from their studies abroad, Millennials turn the heads of potential employers with the sheer wealth of experience and global vision they acquired both living and studying in a foreign country. Students who study abroad show great initiative, open-mindedness and ability to adapt to change.

Millennials who study abroad and report back after their experience, whether returning to their mother land or staying in their new adopted country, express a new found confidence, marketability and greater social and professional network. xii

In a world of over 1.8 billion peers, it is hard to stand out. Millennials, as a group centric generation, find it important at times to break away from the crowd. Enrolling in a graduate program abroad could be the key to realizing your career goals and aspirations. Rooting the future on a solid educational foundation that will see a massive return on investment.

The GBSB Global Business School is a fully accredited private business school in Barcelona, Spain that offers both BBA and MBA programs in English and is dedicated to preparing students for careers in the global economy. Our degrees in a variety of fields of business prepare students to operate with ease across borders and cultures – in an environment that prides itself in diversity and the ability to bring a worldwide perspective to the study of international business. GBSB Global Business School in Barcelona is an excellent place for students who are looking for an innovative BBA or MBA program in Europe, based in a vibrant, cosmopolitan city along the Mediterranean. Interested in getting more information on our programs, check us out at

By Emily Dawn Szajda, GBSB Content Manager

i 2 June 2014. Millennials: By The Numbers. Millennial Week. Retrieved from
ii 12 November 2012. The Millennial Generation Research Review. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Retrieved from
iii Fromm, Jeff. 06 November 2012. Millennials In The Workplace: They Don't Need Trophies But They Want Reinforcement. Forbes. Retrieved from
iv v 12 November 2012. The Millennial Generation Research Review. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Retrieved from
vi vii Drake, Bruce. 07 March 2014. 6 New Findings About Millennials. PEW Research Centers. Retrieved from
viii 12 November 2012. The Millennial Generation Research Review. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Retrieved from
ix Fromm, Jeff. 06 November 2012. Millennials In The Workplace: They Don't Need Trophies But They Want Reinforcement. Forbes. Retrieved from
x xi Wolfson, Rachel. 12 April 2016. 5 Awesome Benefits Millennials Gain From Their MBA. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from
xii 2015. Global Management Education Graduate Survey. Graduate Management Admission Council. Retrieved from

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