It would be hard to believe that someone with an Internet connection has not come across the slander and malicious attacks that the Generation Y has received from their predecessors lately. While I believe that there is no such thing as a homogenous Gen Y cohort, and that there are many clusters within this group with different aspirations and beliefs, I as a Gen Y representative will talk for myself, and if I may be so bold, the people I personally know from this oh-so-hated generation.
We’ve heard it all: We feel entitled, we’re lazy, scared of commitment and narcissistic. Gen X-ers can’t work with us, boomers don’t know how to hire us. Corporates don’t want to invest in us – we’ll be gone in no time anyway. It is true that there is more movement in-between jobs than ever. Staying at one company for all your life is unimaginable for many young people entering work force today. This may have been a completely normal career track for our parents and grandparents, however, according to the “Multiple Generations @ Work” survey my generation will have an average of 15-20 employment relationships during their lifetime.
There is no doubt that young people have high expectations of their workplace. A common generalization is that we’re impatient to succeed, we want it all, and we want it now. Instead of waiting for a corporation that stuck you in some place in the system, where you’re supposed to stay, until you eventually get the fulfilling career you’re longing for, we take fate in our own hands, move on and get it ourselves. We move on to better positions, better fits, and better opportunities. But we’re dubbed as the generation of quitters and mocked for our quest for purpose and meaning.
Yes, we’re different. For every era there have been defining events that have influenced the life of people within the associated generations. What has defined the life of my generation is globalization, the rapid technological advancement and an increasing demographic diversity. All this has found expression in our belief systems, values, and demands. We’re not loyal, employers say. We’ve seen our parents work hard and get exploited by corporations. We’re afraid to commit they say. While our parents have enjoyed a long period of high economic prosperity, we have to enter the work force in a time of economic uncertainty and the worst global recession since the 1920s. We start our careers with unpaid internships and atypical employment contracts. If companies need to save costs or restructure, we’re the first to be dumped. It’s socially acceptable to fire a youngster. “They’re young, they’ll find their way.” So “job-hopping” is not even always a choice.
But instead of looking for excuses, how about we look at things from a different angle. What makes Generation Y so different are indeed our demands and aspirations. Our curiosity and our thirst for innovation and change. Lifelong learning and job-hopping are buzzwords of Millenials. We fear nothing more than stagnation. Standstill is our worst enemy. We have higher education levels and our early exposure to technology makes us the tech savviest of any generation before. We’re looking for our calling, the next challenge, the next big thing that will get us closer to the larger goal of becoming who we want to be.
Yes, we consider ourselves to be special, special enough to make a stand in this world. We feel empowered to contribute, to change this place for the better, we feel important enough to believe, that as individuals, we can contribute to bigger things. We don’t settle for the status quo. Yes, we are in motion and there’s nothing wrong with that.
For the next couple of months we will exchange ideas and blog posts on a regual basis with WHATCHADO.
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