Feeling like we never have enough is said to be our generation’s biggest shortcoming.
Apart from making us behave entitled, and fooling us into thinking that every intended venture and latent ambition is just and important we also naïvely believe that we are the creators of our own professional destinies. As much as I wish that were true, sadly, the working world often makes us feel like nothing more than cheap, no-strings-attached labour.
The unfortunate dichotomy of our feelings of entitlement against the imposition of this corporate attitude results in, what appears to be, a generation that may never know the bygone era of 10-year and 20-year “workiversaries” and the dying philosophy of stay-in-one-place-until-you-can’t-grow-anymore-and-then-walk-away-with-a-fat-pension. We don’t have that luxury — nor the requisite patience.
Where previous generations filled permanent, full-time positions replete with secured retirement plans that appreciated off of thriving securities markets, health & drug plans, and overall stability, we get the sad, toothpick-sized end of the stick that says work your asses off for little to no pay, expect nothing but praise in return (if you’re lucky, the occasional Starbucks giftcard) and be totally fine without a long-term safety net. Of course, we’re expected to do the work of multiple people, meaningfully implant ourselves in our employer’s corporate culture, and add sustained, profitable value to the organization. In other words, all the expectations without the equivalent rewards.
Sadder still is the reality that the above only applies to the lucky few who managed to beat the stiff competition, and the unlikely odds, and made it through round-upon-round of interviews and testing to finally secure that elusive paying job. For those unfortunate recipients of the dreaded “Thank you for your application. After careful review of all qualified applicants, we regret to inform you…” letter, it’s back to the grim reality of job boards and the drudgery of Monster.com.
At the very least, it’s safe to say, our generation can’t be called void of perseverance.
We may suffer from being underemployed but most of us have the gift of mobility and travel (provided you have the right passport — a topic better left for another post). Can’t find a job to pay off your student loans? How about teaching English as a second language in South Korea, China or France? What about applying for an Australian work-travel visa to travel around the continent while working at bars and restaurants along the way? Or consider working as an au-pair for a well-to-do family in Dublin?
So where does that leave us? With dreams of success and financial growth, but without the immediate means to make said dreams a reality. Nevertheless, we’re a crafty generation; We’re not ones to let a great idea go to waste. Despite the limitations we’re presented with, we’re exhibiting a spirit of entrepreneurship [more on this next time] and steadfastness that will force us to redefine success by our own standards. We take strife in our stride and hope that one day Monster.com will be a horror story left for our impatient and hopeless offspring.