COMMENT by Lorna Subritzky

So this week we learned breakdancing could be a contender for a new Olympic sport – but I'd like to suggest a new option, and this one is especially made for the older athlete: millennial bashing.

Not a week goes by when I don't hear a colleague or a friend bemoaning the "young people of today", sounding just like the old people we used to snigger at when we were in the flush of youth.

Muffin Break boss Natalie Brennan slams 'entitled' millennials


But Muffin Break general manager Natalie Brennan takes the cake, if you'll excuse the pun.

This week, she's stated that entitled millennials have been given an "inflated" sense of self-importance due to social media – and what does she base this opinion on? On the fact millenials are no longer willing to do unpaid work to advance their careers.

Brennan says the huge decline in eager young university students and graduates started about 10 years ago: "There's just nobody walking in my door asking for an internship, work experience or unpaid work, nobody".

She adds: "In essence they're working for free, but I can tell you every single person who has knocked on my door for an internship or work experience has ended up with a job. Every single person, because they back themselves."

Now I'm Generation X rather than a baby-boomer, for what it's worth, and judging from her photo Brennan is as well – but I can tell you right now I have never worked for nothing, and nor would I expect my millenial children to.

Mind you, this may be a bigger problem for the Muffin Break operation, which is part of franchise giant Foodco – across the Tasman, a former Foodco franchisee made a submission to an inquiry into breaches of the franchise code of conduct, detailing how he lost everything operating two Muffin Break stores in New South Wales.

He alleged the business model is fake, labour costs "a mathematical impossibility" and that Foodco expects all franchisees work for free. He further alleged Foodco told him to consider under-paying staff.

Foodco strongly rejected these allegations, but even if they are proven to be untrue, Brennan's comments still speak volumes: she expects young people to work for nothing, with the prospect of putting Muffin Break on one's CV, or landing an eventual role with a franchisee, seemingly reward enough. She's given zero thought as to perhaps why millennials don't have the luxury of working for free while attempting to survive, as perhaps her generation did.


And as someone who has hired many young people in my previous life in senior management, I can tell Brennan right now that I wouldn't be especially impressed by an unpaid internship at Muffin Break. If you can afford to do that, and have internet access, why not learn something or create something instead? Or volunteer for a charity? Now that would get my attention.

There have been the inevitable social media calls for a Muffin Break boycott. I'm not a customer and never have been, so can't really vote with my feet. But there's no doubt that the discussion this week has been anything but positive for the brand.

• Lorna Subritzky is a Coast and Newstalk ZB radio host.