[FoRK] Dude, where’s my job?

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Wed Jan 14 12:17:09 PST 2009

I dislike the whole hedge fund / 
money-shuffling-but-accomplishing-little thing.  Accomplishing useful 
things, improvements, happiness, health, safety, entertainment, science 
is all good.  People should feel empowered, but because they've been 
able to experience and conquer more and more challenges.  The biggest 
problem I have with the education system is not getting every student to 
really experience challenge, failure, long-term work, and success in a 
coherent way most of the time.  Competition with others is important, 
however what should be emphasized is competition with yourself.  It is 
not OK that you haven't made progress, whether it is learning a new 
area, new literature / science / art / math, or running the mile.  
Schools systems are half-hearted about a lot of this.  Some kids will 
dig into everything, but it is too easy for others to opt out, often 
because they didn't feel competitive at the beginning, which is easily 
overcome in many cases.

So, in the end, the article below is positive: their attributes overall 
may lead to a reinforceably positive path.  Reality checks are often 
good and necessary, but not fatal.  Attraction to money-shuffling (and 
incessant marketing of dubious investments) as a life goal could use 
some perspective, so I'm fine with that.


Adam L Beberg wrote:
> This reflects what I see the undergrads (and everyone else much 
> younger then me) thinking around here. The 99% of undergrads who 
> wanted to work at a hedge fund to make their millions and retire at 30 
> are suddenly very very confused about confronting reality.
> http://blog.macleans.ca/2009/01/14/dude-where%E2%80%99s-my-job/print/
> ==========
> Dude, where’s my job?
> What happens when the most entitled generation ever hits a recession
> Jan 14, 2009 by Lianne George
> It was only 18 months ago that the Wall Street Journal ran an article 
> outlining the lavish demands of a new generation of workers, known 
> collectively as Gen Y or Millennials or Net Gen. At the time, the 
> thinking was that this group—ages 30 and under—had employers over a 
> barrel. For one thing, there were relatively few of them, and 
> employers, facing an imminent wave of boomer retirements, would be 
> competing for the best of this young cohort. Also, since this is the 
> Internet generation, they were believed to possess magical and 
> mysterious tech skills that would prove invaluable in the workplace of 
> the future.
> Emboldened by these dual advantages, Millennials set their 
> expectations high. Not only did they want fun, fulfilling work, with 
> flexible hours, good salaries, and ample vacation, they wanted to be 
> celebrated, too. Literally, feted. Savvy employers had taken to 
> embracing measures like prize packages for a job well done, “public 
> displays of appreciation,” and, in the case of one manufacturer in 
> Texas, retaining a “celebration assistant” in charge of helium 
> balloons and confetti. This was smart business, according to 
> 30-year-old Jason Ryan Dorsey, a self-appointed Gen Y expert—who 
> consults with companies like Kraft and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts 
> about the peculiarities and preferences of his generation. “Marking 
> milestones is major,” he told Forbes magazine. “No birthday should go 
> uncelebrated, and the first day on the job should be unforgettable.” 
> Which is great, except for one thing: what happens when the most 
> entitled generation in history slams into the worst job market in 30 
> years?
> At the turn of 2009, in the midst of massive layoffs and hiring 
> freezes, not to mention cut-rate Christmas parties where punch just 
> wasn’t in the budget, these demands seem cringe-worthy—even more so 
> than they did before. If ever there was a sign that the era of the 
> sellers’ employment market is over, it came last month when Google—the 
> Santa Claus of corporate perk-giving—instituted a hiring freeze and, 
> among other things, cancelled its New York office’s decidedly 
> Millennial-friendly tradition of afternoon tea. Almost as soon as they 
> began for this cohort, it would appear its halcyon days are over.
> In November alone, 71,000 Canadians lost their jobs—27 per cent of the 
> newly unemployed are people aged 24 and under—and economists predict 
> this is only a bellwether of worse to come. Suddenly, many of those 
> retiring boomers can’t afford to retire. Making matters worse, 
> Millennials are saddled with more debt than any previous generation 
> (an average of $5,631 per year in student debt alone, not to mention 
> the load sitting on their credit cards, and what they’re doling out in 
> car payments). This recession is not what they signed up for.
> “They were absolutely told that ‘You’re part of a blessed generation 
> and you are going to be in control of your own destiny,’ ” says 
> Winnipeg native Steven Rothberg, owner of CollegeRecruiter.com, a 
> company that recruits college graduates mostly in the U.S. “The spring 
> 2008 grads have had to do some major adjusting. They graduated with 
> the expectation that it was going to be a sellers’ market, that they 
> were going to have multiple offers, step into an upper management role 
> and have significant strategic impact on a Fortune 500 company, and 
> that’s just not the reality.” Until last year, he said, university and 
> college students in their senior year, even the mediocre ones, could 
> expect job offers as early as Oct. 1 of their final year. Now, 
> employers are waiting until the spring to make hiring decisions, 
> waiting to see how the economy shakes out, and leaving more students 
> graduating into uncertainty.
> There will be schadenfreude from those who see Millennial entitlement 
> as a moral failing. “I hear people say this a lot,” says Dorsey of his 
> boomer executive clients. “They say, ‘Your generation just needs one 
> good recession and then they’ll appreciate their jobs.’ ” But this is 
> too simplistic an assessment of why “kids today” are the way they are. 
> They’re not genetically lazy or spoiled, any more than children of the 
> Depression are inherently thrifty. Whatever overblown expectations 
> this generation has are the product of decades of conditioning, and 
> not only by overzealous boomer parents. Well-intentioned attempts to 
> make this generation feel good about itself have, in fact, left them 
> poorly prepared to weather a tough economic storm.
> Consider that this is the first cohort to come of age in a time of 
> institutionalized self-esteem. Beginning in the seventies, programs 
> designed to boost children’s self-esteem were installed in schools and 
> at home, in the form of books and TV shows like Mister Rogers’ 
> Neighborhood. Throughout the eighties, according to the research of 
> Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, 
> the number of studies published on the benefits of self-esteem 
> programs doubled, and in the nineties, it doubled again. Then came the 
> elimination of competition, harsh red marking pens, and the arrival of 
> books with titles like Celebrate Yourself: Six Steps to Building Your 
> Self-Esteem. “Generation Me’s expectations are highly optimistic,” 
> Twenge wrote in her 2006 book on the narcissistic tendencies of this 
> group. “They expect to go to college, to make lots of money, and 
> perhaps even to be famous.” Unfortunately, there’s a fine line between 
> optimism and confidence, and irrational entitlement.
> But it wasn’t just indulgent teachers and coddling parents that formed 
> this generation’s world view. The self-esteem revolution happened to 
> dovetail with a consumer shift toward an ever-greater focus on the 
> individual. Marketers trained their sights on young people more 
> intently than ever before, piggybacking on the self-esteem movement to 
> offer youth heaps of affirmation in the form of a countless array of 
> products—just for them! They realized that parents, flush with credit 
> and disposable income, were inordinately concerned with their kids’ 
> opinions, even when it came to grown-up purchasing decisions (from 
> cars to family vacations). Tweens spend about $2.9 billion a year and 
> influence purchases worth another $20 billion. From the age of eight, 
> Millennials saw themselves reflected everywhere: in ads for tween 
> shampoos, designer fashions, and fragrances. By the time they got to 
> university, credit card companies were handing out application forms 
> along with student orientation packages. The message, as always: if 
> you want it, you should have it.
> It only makes sense that the environment in which they were raised 
> would inform what they expected from a job—namely, flexibility, 
> authority, instant respect and continuous affirmation. (This is a 
> generation, after all, in which seven out of 10 rank themselves “above 
> average” in academic ability.) “They’re not going to put up with the 
> ‘paying your dues’ and being in the mailroom for the first three 
> years,” says Rothberg. “In their mind it’s, ‘I graduated. I’ve always 
> succeeded. I’ve always got a trophy for everything I’ve done. All of 
> my friends and everyone I know is above average, so when I go into a 
> place of work, I’m either going to set that place on fire or they’re 
> not good enough for me and I’m out of there.’ ”
> But there is a surprising upside to this attitude that may wind up 
> benefiting both the young workers and the companies that employ them. 
> Ironically, the Millennials’ addiction to affirmation may also turn 
> out to be their saving grace. “What is interesting about this 
> generation,” says Max Valiquette, president of Toronto-based youth 
> marketing firm Youthography, “is that a lot of the carrots and perks 
> they’re asking for have nothing to do with money, and almost 
> everything to do with how they work.” Very few of them have had hard 
> experience scrimping to make rent. (In fact, in 2006, 44 per cent of 
> Canadian adults ages 20 to 29 were living with mom and dad). Instead, 
> Dorsey says, the incentives they crave involve self-determination, 
> being recognized for good work, and regular feedback—things that cost 
> no money at all. In other words, to some degree employers may be able 
> to substitute applause for hard currency and still keep young 
> employees perfectly happy, a potential boon in a cash-strapped economy.
> For those young workers fortunate enough to find or keep work in the 
> midst of the storm, life is about to provide some eye-opening lessons, 
> and the same might be said for the companies trying to balance their 
> need for young ambitious workers with their immediate need to keep 
> costs down. “Smart companies are going to see this as an unparalleled 
> opportunity to build Gen Y loyalty,” says Dorsey. “I always mention 
> the birthday thing because it’s so simple, but Gen Y really does 
> believe that the most important holiday of the year is their birthday 
> because it’s the one they don’t have to share.” If this turns out to 
> be true, expect to be eating a lot of cake in 2009.
> Lianne George is the co-author of The Ego Boom: Why the World Really 
> Does Revolve Around You (Key Porter), due in stores Jan. 27
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