Gen Y is picky? You call it snobbery, we call it tactic
When I was 19, I started mapping out my career plans. I was in my second year of university when I decided to volunteer as an unpaid intern for two full days per week at a magazine publishing house. My baby-boomer father never understood how I could do it for two years without pay (while working weekends in retail, where yes, I dealt with the worst customers imaginable and cleaned up kid vomit from the floor of my store), but I had faith in the fact that it would one day pay off.
One day was not this week, because this week, Employment Minister Mark Arbib is urging Gen Y to readjust their ideas about work and employment, stop the “snobbery” associated with certain means of work, and take whatever jobs they could get. For someone whose attitude to work has more to do with paying university fees and funding my internet bill than snobbery and a class act on the career ladder, Senator Arbib’s comments did not go down too well. And I was not the only one to notice.
Generation Y has long bore the brunt of the attention-seeking, lazy, power-hungry generation that refused to put in the hard yards for their future, something which the Senator might have capitalised on in his address to a young labor conference last week. What he failed to recognise is the fact that Generation Y has suffered long enough as a result of this stereotype, and as such, was ditching conventional forms and methods of work in favour of something that works for them.
A peek inside my Facebook and Twitter inbox could indicate as to how, and why. Like a typical generation Y’er, I resorted to these methods of social networking for my research into this column. There, I was not surprised to find a high level of disagreement and discontentment among my peers as a result of Senator Arbib’s comments, for various reasons.
Jade had left her job in PR because of a supervisor who relied on bullying, unethical professional practice and slave-labour-like working conditions. Her decision had more to do with taking a moral high ground than being choosy.
Alice returned from a post-university stint overseas to find that no firm would hire her, even for the lowest of jobs on the ladder, because of her recent travel history. Her lack of employment prospects were resultant from generation Y’s biggest nemesis – the stereotype.
And Dan couldn’t get a job anywhere because he didn’t have “the experience”, and was never given the opportunity to actually earn it. Another Gen Y fave, and the Achilles heel of every unemployed youth.
These experiences led me to wonder about Senator Arbib’s level of understanding when it comes to our current reality. As a leader of our society, would he have preferred the youth of today lose their back-bone in the workplace, resort to putting work ahead of their happiness, or simply lying around feeling sorry for themselves because they had no experience? I doubt it, which is why it is imperative to recognise the fact that generation Y has long decided to do things their own way, even if it means taking a little longer to get to the finish line.
After all, Generation Y has made a success of the tools they have grown up with – the internet, blogs and social networking sites to name a few. Businesses can hone in on a fan base on Facebook with targeted promotions and advertising, aspiring creatives can showcase their work on a multitude of blogging platforms, and sites like MySpace and YouTube are the tools to generate fandom for that struggling musician out to make it big.
As such, the reality for generation Y is peppered with the fact that we stopped needing traditional forms of employment a hell of a long time ago. In actual fact, we’re happy to flit from mundane job to menial task as often as we wish while we work on establishing our dream career. You call that snobbery, we call it tactic. One that is tailored to our lifestyles, because we’ve been raised to believe that we live to work, not work to live.
Besides, after witnessing our parents work hard at life with not much to show for it but old age, do you blame us? This lifestyle is a mid-life crisis prevention scheme, and for us it works pretty well. Especially if you consider the difficulties we actually encounter when working, looking for work, or training for it.
Generation Y has been brought up to believe that we live in a world of no boundaries. A world where we can achieve everything that we put our mind to, and where we can face up to our demons if it means making our dreams come true. We remind ourselves that it is not our fault we’re drowning in a global financial crisis, and maybe this is where our ‘selfish’ attitudes come in.
But when you go for a coffee, or get your car parked at the Valet, or buy your lottery ticket at the newsagent, or open your front door to a door-to-door marketing rep, who exactly is servicing you? In many a case, it’s a struggling Gen Y’er who has taken to a mundane task while they plan for their big time. And there’s no snobbery in that at all.
But just in case you don’t get me, tune into The Simpsons. Behind the counter at the Krusty Burger, the Video Store, the Cinema Ticket Stand, Dunkin Doughnuts, and the Bowlarama Bowling Alley, you’re likely to find the pimply faced teenager, voice almost breaking and still teetering on the edge of inexperienced junior working in yet another dead-end job.
You know, that typical Gen Y’er, and one whose snobbery know-how has fallen a little too short in the face of the responsibility on his shoulders – caught between the generation of his parents who did it all, and the generation after him who was all about daring to dream, while he tried to find his space in the middle.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…