Gen Y Perspective: Why Gen Y Won’t Stay at Jobs that Suck

In yesterday’s talk by Bea Fields on managing Gen Y, one of the listeners asked how much of a fun circus work would need to become in order to attract and retain younger workers. The well-known and much-criticized Gen Y tendency to job hop makes Gen Y retention a key issue for companies around the world. Here’s my Gen Y perspective on this issue: when work-life balance is important and career plans are chaotic, it just doesn’t pay to work at jobs that suck.

Why do people work at jobs that don’t make them happy? There seem to be three main reasons:

  • They need the money or the health insurance.
  • They don’t care about the sacrifices they have to make.
  • They see it as a stepping-stone towards a bigger opportunity.

Let’s look at those three reasons from a Gen Y perspective.

Do they need the money or the health insurance?

Many Gen Yers still live at home, so they have less financial pressure. Others live on their own or with friends, but aren’t carrying mortgages or supporting families. True, many Gen Yers experience financial pressure from student loans, credit card debt and other obligations, but most can get by.

What about health care? We’re in the prime of our lives, and most don’t need to worry about losing insurance coverage. Life insurance and family insurance needs are low, because we typically don’t have any dependents. That means we can shift jobs without worrying about not being covered in the meantime.

Why else would people take jobs they weren’t happy in? They might not care about the other sacrifices they need to make, such as working long hours and living under high stress.

I know many Gen Yers who work overtime and weekends, but I also know many Gen Yers who prioritize work-life balance and who make time in their lives for other things. If their jobs don’t allow them to have the kind of life they want, they’ll look for other opportunities. They know that for every company that talks about company loyalty and retention but then turns around and expects an unsustainable pace of work, there are also companies that walk the walk and are really interested in improving workplace flexibility–not just for senior employees, but for everyone.

Why would people work so hard, anyway? The answer is related to the third reason why people stay in jobs that don’t make them happy. They see those jobs as stepping-stones to greater opportunities.

It used to be that you would “pay your dues” in a boring, thankless job, eventually rising in the ranks and gaining a cushy position. Not any more. After rampant downsizing (I mean, “right-sizing”, or “resource actions”, as IBM likes to call it), the failure of even supposedly rock-solid institutions (hello, Fannie Mae!), and the un-cushy-izing of formerly cushy positions such as partners in law firms (who are now subject to the threat of de-equitization) is it any wonder why many people–Gen Y, especially, as we’re making these entry-level decisions–no longer believe in long-term career planning and in paying your dues in a thankless position?

Lesson One in Daniel Pink‘s unconventional career guide The Adventures of Johnny Bunko is: “There is no plan.”

There is no plan. If there can be no neat plan from getting from point A to point B, if being the office gopher won’t get you to the corner office, if you can burn yourself out because of overtime and high stress but still be laid off because of unpredictable market conditions, then it makes sense to take a step back, invest in yourself, and do work that creates value and make you happy.

Gen Y knows this: your employer pays you, but you ultimately work for yourself. You are ultimately responsible for developing your own skills, finding your own opportunities, and making the life that you want.

Gen Y challenges for recruiting and retention, such puzzling issues for HR departments all over the world, are really just logical reactions to the realities of the marketplace. It makes sense to pick jobs and organizations where you can create value, learn, and enjoy working. It makes sense to contribute and learn as much as you can, then move before you get moved–whether it’s to another job in the organization, or to another organization entirely. It makes sense to make sure that there’s something in it for you.

Does that mean that Gen Yers are mercenary? No. In fact, money isn’t the biggest reason why Gen Yers leave organizations. Gen Yers are looking for opportunities to make a difference, to grow, to connect, and to work with people they admire. Dot-com-like perks like foosball tables are fun, but they don’t make up for opportunities to make a difference.

The organization that can quickly tap new Gen Yers’ passions and skills, move them into a position where they can contribute in a meaningful way, and help them build the social networks that will make them even more productive–that’s the kind of organization that will be able to easily recruit and retain Gen Y, because that’s the kind of organization that understands what matters.

  • http://smartpeopleiknow.wordpress.com Bernie

    I see two things happening with Gen Y’s to change this:

    1) the roles they take on in organizations will become more complex and require more commitment from them. This will happen to GenY’s within 5-10 year from now. When this happens, it will be harder to leave jobs and harder to take on new jobs. This will restrict their fluidity. On the other hand, there is the promise of gaining more depth and achieving more in such roles.

    2) the personal commitments they take on — marriage, land/house purchases, and children — will also require them to restrict their fluidity to some degree. For one thing, they will need insurance and other institutional forms of assurance to assist them with their commitments. However, it will enrich their lives in ways.

    • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

      Yes. That’s later. Right now, things are Very Interesting. =)

      It’s difficult to distinguish between age-related characteristics and generation-related characteristics, so we’ll just have to deal with the combined effects. As my generation grows up and settles down, I’m sure we’ll resemble the older generations more. (And we’ll be shaking our heads at Gen Z, those upstart whippersnappers…)

  • Larry Hawes

    Sacha,

    Excellent piece! But one small quibble. While the traits and beliefs you describe so well may be more characteristic of Gen Y than of other generations, they do not belong exclusively to your generation.

    I am 47; a Boomer by most definitions. Yet I’ve never held a particular job for more than 4 years. And my career goals have strongly included “looking for opportunities to make a difference, to grow, to connect, and to work with people [I] admire.” That is a primary reason why I have changed jobs so often.

    My point is this — your observations about Gen Y are spot on, but not exclusive to your age group. In fact, I’m not sure age has nearly as much bearing as does attitude and values! I’ve always wished I had been born sooner and lived during the 1950’s as an adult. After reading this post, I’m starting to think that I was born TOO SOON and should be part of Gen Y because of our common goals! :>)

  • http://www.alanlepofsky.net Alan Lepofsky

    Oh Sasha, you’ve made me feel so old in the last two days! (I’m 37)

    In my opinion, these points, and those on Twitter yesterday have nothing to do with a cultural difference between Gen X and Gen Y. Nothing. They have to deal with age, and point in life/career.

    “Many Gen Yers still live at home, so they have less financial pressure.”.
    I’d change that to, many 20 year olds still live at home. This is not part of the specific Gen Y culture. Many Gen Xers lived at home in their early 20s, and had less financial pressure.

    “I also know many Gen Yers who prioritize work-life balance and who make time in their lives for other things. If their jobs don’t allow them to have the kind of life they want, they’ll look for other opportunities.”
    100% ditto for Gen Xers, 15 years ago. I am the ONLY one of my friends that stayed at the job I had right out of University for more than 10 years. My friends that are engineers, pharmaceutical reps, teachers, etc… all moved around. This is one of the main reasons I finally left IBM… to gain some experiences that I missed out on. I am the only person I know in my circle that had a single employer on their resume!

    Everything you are saying is EXACTLY the same as what my bosses worried about when I started at IBM in 1995. How are we going to keep these new kids happy? How do we deal with these new collaboration tools (Lotus Notes at the time, now “web 2.0″). What do we do now that everyone has email and can share information? What do we do now that everyone has chat? How do we keep them working here, when they can jump around from job to job (remember dot com era 1999-2001)? What do we do about these new casual dress codes? What do we do now that they all have laptops and cell phones? etc.

    I’m sorry, but nothing I have read in any of these points highlights a single thing that differs culturally between Gen X and Gen Y. They deal with age, and the point in life you are at.

    Sharing and openness? Not knew at a personal level. BBS, IRC channels, Compuserve forums, all came before “social networking”, and allowed people with simialr interests to share. People have been forming communities and sharing for decades. What differs now is how the technology has helped make it easier, more available, and more accessible at any time from any location. (and the UI is much nicer). We did not have blogs to share our thoughts with the world, but we did have a lot of conference calls, face to face meetings, out of office retreats, Notes discussions DBs, etc.

    At the “company level” (not Gen X or Gen Y individuals) I do think that they acceptance of transparency has changed. Companies are allowing people to blog their thoughts externally for example, where in the past you were never allowed to say anything outside of the walls!

    Work life balance? Nope. Flexible work weeks, work at home, have all been around for my generation as well.

    Where I do think Gen Y differs is in the acceptance of having others help them. Too many of “my generation” (and more so the one before me) grew up thinking that if they had a skill or knowledge, than that provided them job security. Now (thankfully) people are willing to share everything, hoping to advance and have others fill their spot. I often lecture (as I did at Toronto Tech Week) about “The fear of not created here” vs. “The reward of I found it there”. I LOVE when I can leverage (reuse) another person’s work or skill. That is why SlideShare, Flickr, YouTube, etc are all so great.

    Also Gen Y expects a different tool set at work. Just like Gen X did before them! Our conversations were “What? You use deck phones and green screen terminals? Where is my laptop, my email package, my web site, my cell phone, and my flexible workspace cubicle?”

    I’m not putting you down, all of these conversations happened when I started as well! I was you at the time, thinking that my generation was so different. I promise this will happen again 15 years from now, and you’ll feel old arguing that Gen Z is no different that you are! And they will tell you how they use their 3D holograms to communicate in ways that you don’t, and they will laugh at the talk of “social networking” and Gen Y culture!

    • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

      Oh, totally. Social networking is old.

      One of the interesting things I find, though, is that the tools we’re using allow us to form different kinds of social networks, and I think a large part of it has to do with Dunbar’s number and the limits on how many people you can actively keep in touch with. When you have the responsibility for reaching out and growing your social network through phone calls and e-mail and coffee chats, it can be difficult to grow your network past a certain size. A newbie like me might feel too shy to approach lots of people outside my division. Forums help people cross boundaries by interacting based on common interests, but don’t make it easy to find out more about interesting individuals. With blogs, on the other hand, I can make it easy for other people to get to know me even if I might not feel comfortable initiating contact by e-mailing them. Social networking tools like blogs allow you to play with the old constraint of reciprocity, and thus reach out to more people.

      Social networks can be characterized by the diversity of people within them. If you don’t consciously cultivate your network to include diverse contacts, you tend to form cliques of similar people. In contrast, an entrepreneurial network is characterized by lots of different kinds of people whose only common link is you. In the past, people in certain occupations or with certain personalities tended to have entrepreneurial networks simply because they would work with or seek out all sorts of people. With ways to get to know people and sometimes even make random connections (I like checking out BlogCentral’s front page for just this reason), you can build an entrepreneurial network easily. On the intranet, we’re still looking at a mostly early-adopter crowd, but look at what’s happening on the Internet!

      So we’re looking at a very interesting evolution of social networking. We’re also looking at richer media for self-expression, better tools for collaboration, and an even quicker rate of change. I’m curious about the implications for the workplace. Part of this curiosity comes from my own experience. What am I doing differently? What can I teach other people so that they can also connect? What can I learn from other experiments people are doing? What am I missing?

      I think that the asymmetric social networking piece is one thing that just wasn’t as easy to do in previous generations’ workplaces, and I think it has interesting implications for connection, collaboration, influence, leadership… Let’s figure out what we can do with it. =)

  • http://arseneault.ca Jean-Francois Arseneault

    @Alan: words of wisdom, on drawing parallels between GenY and our gen. (I’m 36, btw).

    @Sacha: I’ll simply pick on one sentence, which I think is both powerful, but doesn’t paint the whole picture (for me, at least):

    “Gen Y knows this: your employer pays you, but you ultimately work for yourself.”

    I’m Gen X… or the one before, not too sure. But even though I’ve been at the same corp for 12 years, I now see more clearly than ever that I am only ‘leasing’ some of my week’s time to my employer. They don’t own me. They don’t have exclusivity over my ability to work. Not in the sense that many call themselves ‘IBMer’, which to me indicates that you ‘belong’ to something, perhaps to the detriment of other things.

    So I ‘lease’ about 40-45 hrs of my week to IBM. I exchange time for money and other benefits. I do get personal growth and satisfaction our of it (hello, Maslow). But I still feel I can ‘lease’ some other hours to side businesses or interests. Some make me money, others don’t. But I don’t feel like I signed my life away to a single employer. I’m a broker, selling pieces of my time at different prices, based on market demands and my interests.

    In the end, I always have a choice. And I’m not ashamed to say I revisit my decision to work at my employer on a frequent basis. So if I’m staying, it’s because I want to and like to work there – not because I feel forced due to family/insurance/whatever.

    I can choose to live in a smaller home. I can eat Kraft Dinner instead of steaks. I can sell a car. We tend to think, in this materialistic world (or America), that we need to protect our ‘way of living’. Bull.

    Someone said recently: “The things you own end up owning you”. I subscribe to that whole-heartedly…

    • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

      Excellent way to think, JFA. =)

      One of the things I’ve noticed is that I’d much rather say “I work with IBM” than “I work for IBM.” I have a feeling my usage is unconventional, but it reflects the fact that I’m not only here to serve IBM’s [clients'] goals. I’m with IBM because IBM empowers me to make a bigger difference. Doesn’t stop me from thinking about other differences I want to make and other ways I want to make them, but so far, IBM’s awesome.

      Also: I like being frugal, and I live below my means. It’s nice to keep one’s overhead down. =) And it gives me more flexibility, too.

      • Madhumalti

        I agree with Sacha’s comment – I also like to say I work ‘with’ IBM rather that ‘for’ IBM – it does not “own” me and I work here since I have to power to do what i want to! Have been working here for that past 10 years now – came in with the PwC acquisition and like it alot!

  • http://smartpeopleiknow.wordpress.com Bernie

    I second Jean-Francois.

    I try to see IBM as my client, even though they are my only client. I stopped thinking of IBM as something other than that in the early 90s, when the Great Change happened. In fact, I find it funny when IBM employees refer to themselves as IBMers.

    • http://aaronkim.wordpress.com Aaron

      Hey Bernie,

      Maybe it’s because English is not my first language, or because I was not at IBM before the “Great Change”, but I see “IBMer” as just a shorter way to say “IBM employee”, the same way I say “RBCer”.

      Back to the main thread, I keep imagining how people would react if we have the same kind of logic used for religion, race, gender or sexual preferences. You can always use the river argument saying that, while you can’t describe every drop of water, you still see patterns. There are features and behaviours that are more pronounced in groups, but you can’t assume any kind of causality. If you get all people in the world whose name starts with A or who were born in January, you’ll find patterns too, but there’s no real cause-effect relationship there. I think we are just more sensitized to the 4 categories above than we are towards generations and age.

      Notice that I’m not saying that there’s no causality: you may find that East Asians are more prone to a given disease due to a gene that’s more spread in that population. So I think there will be things (very few, in my opinion) that characterize some generations (having lived through war, famine, the pill, etc.) but I agree with Alan that none of the ones I often see listed as attributes of Gen Y belong to that group. They just happen to be linked to age, life cycle, personal traits or being open to change.

      As I said many times, I learn a lot from Sacha, but I see her as an exception, not the rule. I get upset when I hear people saying she is bright for her age. I also think that’s ageism: she’s bright, and that has nothing to do with her age, gender, or background.

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    Oh, I agree with everyone here. A lot of the hullabaloo over Gen Y sounds remarkably like the hullabaloo over Gen X, and I’m sure old-timers griped about Baby Boomers when they were flooding into the workforce. =) I don’t think we’re Really Special, like the way popular media wants to make us out to be.

    So my reactions to, say, managers complaining about Gen Y work ethic and demands for flexibility are along the lines of that’s an old issue and of course it makes sense, and my reactions to articles about Gen Y saving the world with our civic-mindedness and concern for the environment are along the lines of “We’re not doing it alone, you know, and it’s not just a Gen Y thing.”

    Right there with you.

    I do think there are some interesting shifts worth looking at, but that’s definitely not just a Gen Y thing.

    I think it’s very interesting to look at how social networking technologies can be used in the workplace. That tends to intersect with companies’ Gen Y concerns, but I actually see a lot more leadership from savvy Baby Boomers and Gen X people like you, primarily because most Gen Yers are just now beginning to look beyond poking people on Facebook. (Hence my passion for helping Gen Yers learn about Web 2.0 at work.)

    I think it’s interesting to look at the availability and maturity of open source technologies and communication networks that allow people to quickly launch Internet-based businesses.

    I think it’s interesting to move from a culture of holding knowledge secret to a culture of knowledge sharing (which goes back to what Alan said).

    I think it’s interesting to move towards more of a free agent nation. (Isn’t that book ten years old?)

    I also think that it’s great that buzzwords like “Gen Y” are creating urgency and the need for change, and that even conservative companies are feeling the need to adapt. I’m certainly not saying that these are all-new concerns. =) What I’d like to focus on are these questions:

    What opportunities are opening up, and how can we make the most of them? As things change, what becomes deprecated? What becomes easier? How can we help people connect and collaborate more effectively?

    And if helping people answer their questions and concerns about Gen Y lets me bring them to other, more interesting questions, then that’s terrific! =)

  • http://www.alanlepofsky.net Alan Lepofsky

    Thanks Sacha. I’m glad to hear that you don’t view these things as just Gen Y items. I’m sorry if I got the wrong impression from your posts.

    Aaron, you’re correct, Sacha is brilliant! She won’ be a star, she is a star.

    • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

      Thanks. =)

      So that makes me curious, because I want to make lots of other people stars. What makes me a star, and how can I share that with other people or bring that out in other people?

      I’m good at infecting people with enthusiasm and passion. I think that’s a combination of figuring out what I’m passionate about and what I have to say, good enough presentation skills so that I focus on the message instead of the medium, and a naturally sunny and enthusiastic disposition coupled with being young. =) To replicate this, people can blog to discover what they want to say and how they want to say it, practice presenting, and stay happy (look at Ben Zander for inspiration!).

      I’m good at connecting the dots, and I want to get even better at that. I can do that because I can get to know and be known by lots of different kinds of people. Blogging and other social networking tools definitely help there. Also, I’m always looking for opportunities to help other people or to connect the dots, and I enjoy network effects – the more people I know, the easier it is to create value by connecting people to other people. To replicate this, people can learn about all sorts of different things and people, look for ways to connect others and help out, and make it easy for people to get to know them through blogs or other tools.

      I’m good at thinking about stuff out loud and trying to figure out how to explain things, and I want to get better at it. Other people can replicate that by, well, thinking out loud on a blog and learning from the discussion or even from the process of expressing one’s thoughts.

      I’m good at indexing lots of odd information and then pulling out relevant items. I don’t need to remember the things exactly. I just need to know where I can find relevant people or information again. Humans are good at this kind of associative memory, and people can replicate this by exposing themselves to lots of different information.

      None of that is unique, and all of that are things I want to help other people develop. More than that, actually: I want to build systems (technical or organizational or cultural or whatever) that make it easy for people to develop these competencies because I’m curious about what other people could do if they could connect and collaborating with other people who could help them make things happen.

      Am I a star? I know I’ve been very lucky, and I want to share that luck with others. If you can forgive the rather un-romantic-sounding astrophysical analogy, what I really want to be is an interstellar cloud of hydrogen gas – helping build a million stars. =)

      So, what do I need in order to make that happen?

      I want to help people learn more about connection and collaboration, and I want more opportunities to talk to people, answer their concerns, and help them create and effectively use systems (again, both technical and organizational).

      I want to figure out better ways to get to know people and keep in touch with them.

      I want interesting questions and ideas that prod me to think.

      I want to know more people’s passions, needs and abilities so that I can connect more dots. I want to know what people want to make happen.

      I think this life is going to be a lot of fun. =)

  • http://arseneault.ca Jean-Francois

    I’m sure it’s been written a million times already, but isn’t it so much easier to label things, so that we can generalize…

    Whether it’s labeling generations (boomers, x’s, yz), genders (mars vs venus, anyone?), attitudes (nerds, geeks, jocks, etc) and I’m sure you have more examples.

    It’s that oversimplification of reality which is bothering to me. But I’m not surprised. The Media ™ invents those labels, as they allow them to be more sensationalistic in their reporting.

    After all, what grabs more eyeballs (besides a Britney Spears story):
    A) Younger employees more likely to change jobs early in their career
    B) Generation Y: job-hoping like there’s no tomorrow!

    :)

    • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

      … and whenever I come across those “Gen Yers are financially illiterate and irresponsible!” articles, I’m, like, *cough*sub-prime mortgages,pot,kettle,black*cough*

  • http://www.strategicontent.com Brian Anderson

    I think you harbor a little generational arrogance there Sasha or maybe just a lack of awareness, also called ignorance. The reason the Gen Y’s are in the enviable situation they find themselves in is because of what could be called the Legacy Generation’s, Tim Berners-Lee’s invention: the Internet.

    With its advent, ongoing evolution and continually divergent permutations, has been unprecedented access to information. As you say, much of this type of data was formerly locked in the minds or drawers of those who had worked, usually alone, or in organizations with a team of people and it was guarded jealously.

    Why did my generation – the Boomers, of which i was a late addition to, become entrapped in such limited behaviors like the ones you describe? Because we had very limited access to different types of information. I recall, in the 70s, going to the local library and finding profiles of certain occupations and the skill sets required for them, in a big filing cabinet. Other options included books on this or that subject matter, letter writing, volunteering, maybe phoning up those doing the job you wanted, and that was pretty much it. The big reference library in downtown Toronto broadened things a bit, but nothing approached the Internet for choice and diversity.

    Before 1990, the notion of transferable skill sets was still relatively unknown. For companies or agencies, not finding a candidate with the EXACT skill sets meant that they would be taking a risk. Not sure if you know this but, historically, Canada has been a tremendously risk-aversive place, business-wise.

    Go and pick up the book “Why Mexicans Don’t Drink Molson’s” and learn about how Canadians, historically, have conducted their business affairs. Believe me, it isn’t with the same kind of aplomb you describe the Gen Y’s as possessing. It’s been a cautious country and this was attributed to Sir John A. McDonald’s National Policy of a hundred years ago. High tariff walls allowed Canadian companies to prosper in their own protected market but this also developed, in the opinion of the authors, a lack of guts and self-belief. Best to read the book; it’s a good, educational and infectious one.

    The Gen Y’s are the benefactors of the networked economy in which many points of contact strengthen each node within the network and themselves in the process. For a broader discussion of the Internet’s influence on the business and the world in general, refer to this insightful article from 1998:
    http://www.versaggi.net/ecommerce/articles/noteswirednetrules.htm

    You will find that a lot of your perspectives – and, hopefully, you’re not claiming them as belonging solely to Gen Y’ers – were borne out of this author’s work – and others like him.

    Johnny Bunko can preach “no plan” because the Internet is an invention machine, much like the 1950’s science fiction writers posited. Jobs that will exist in 1 month, 3 months, 6 months do not have to exist at this point. In the old days, like say less than 15 years ago, it wasn’t this way. Change happened more slowly and people, often those in professions like law, accounting, engineering, assembly line (traditional types of occupations – see where I’m going here?) could plan their careers because it was possible; very little changed. I could add those who worked in the manufacturing sector but it was thrown into turmoil with the effects of the Free Trade Agreement in 1989. There was no Internet for these poor bastards and the companies just let them twist in the wind.

    We boomers worked in ‘thankless’ jobs because, for many, there were few alternatives and because of prevailing traditionalist perspectives within the business culture. The popular mythology was, “Work here for x years, learn this and that, how we do things, the industry and then maybe …..” You could go elsewhere but the song remained the same. Why wasn’t there more mobility? Because our older colleagues had those jobs and they’d been doing them for 5-10 years and they weren’t leaving soon.

    If people got fed up fed up with the lies or mythology preached at them during their interview or had a poor manager, they’d be quizzed by those working in the Personnel departments (not Human Resources, personnel which was pretty impersonal!) of possible, future employers as to their reasons for leaving prematurely. “Job hoppers” were viewed with suspicion as being unstable, rebellious, or maybe having anti-social tendencies.

    And where did these entrenched attitudes come from? Our parents’ generation, which was pretty rigid, what with them living through a depression and then a World War. They believed in proving oneself through tenacity, loyalty, being a self-starter and operating in an independent fashion and/or without supervision.

    I laugh when I hear younger folks rage about work-life balance. It, and the knowledge of its importance, was known about decades ago. It was just either taken for granted or called something else, like leisure, recreation, or hobbies.

    Why, all of a sudden, is it viewed as being of such paramount importance? Well, over the last 10 years, you Gen Y’ers have watched the build-up of the telecommunications and dot com bust (the 2 were inextricably intertwined) with all its excesses, brutal working regimens, corporate malfeasance of Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, Nortel, and the horror of 9/11 (it taught you that life can be taken away at any moment), the housing bubble and bust, etc. etc. and you’ve witnessed your parents or friend’s parents drop dead in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, and read all about it online and then read about all the health dangers of killing oneself at work in spiritually meaningless jobs and also being the beneficiary of medical technological and knowledge discoveries, including newfound info on causative factors of diseases – also on the Internet and now, collectively, you’re saying ‘No thank you!’

    And because you’re the up-and-coming generation, the business world has no choice, I repeat NO CHOICE, as to whether to ignore you or hire someone else because the World Wide Web provides almost unlimited options for job hunters who can scan the globe for opportunities, create their own business, reach out using social networking levers to other informed or passionate types and thumb their noses at companies who don’t reflect or embrace these new attitudes and demands.

    The Internet is the greatest invention since the printing press and it has re-shaped the economic engine of the entire world. Your generation is merely the first one to be completely engaged with it.

    You speak of wanting to make a difference in the world, of wanting to connect and network with of other like-minded individuals. You seem to feel that this quality or mindset is limited solely to your anointed generation; I assure you, it isn’t, but generations preceding yours never had the means and the connecting power that the Internet delivers.

    Regarding your perspectives on the aspirations for cushy jobs, where does your perspective comes from? Have you had a cushy job? Throughout my work life, I saw very few people in cushy jobs. Being a manager or a VP is usually a very demanding job and most people aren’t cut out for it. Those that had cushy jobs got there on the basis of nepotism, as far as I could see and eventually, because of the pressures of competition, they were found out and forced out.

    Where could your opinion have originated? Again, over the last 10 years, many excesses have been magnified due to de-regulation and speculation and the Internet has revealed them all. Preceding generations only had the print and broadcast media to rely on for their information.

    But you should know that the Fannie May and Freddie Mac debacles were not due to people having cushy jobs; they, and the catastrophes yet to unfold, involve(d) unbridled and unregulated greed and collusion amongst the ruling elites in business and government. Foremost among the causative factors was the repeal of the Glass-Steagell Act in 1999 by President Clinton. This law, which separated commercial from investment banking, was put in place in 1933 as a measure to control what has just recently re-occurred: the monies of the citizenry were hijacked into risky ventures like sub-prime loans to people who didn’t even have enough money for a 5% down payment and whose promise to pay was based on an inflated housing market based on the expectation that housing values would continually increase. A precarious house of cards embraced by bankers the world over and whose development could only take place because the same forces fund and control the political machinery.

    I usually don’t spend several hours writing a 1600 treatise but the flaws in your arguments and myopic perspectives on my generation both irked and motivated me to provide you with some fresh perspectives. For all its merits, I think books are still the best bet for education, knowledge enhancement and the gaining of wisdom. History courses are also good for the development of critical thinking.

    So, I disagree with you that Gen Y is unique and special. I think people have always wanted to connect and share but have never had the unprecedented opportunities that the Internet provides.

    Evidence: In 1971, when I was a kid, Toronto’s citizens rose up and stopped a major highway development – the Allen Expressway – from becoming the Spadina Expressway which would have irrevocably changed Toronto as we now know it. That was a demonstration of social networking on a more limited, yet effective scale. So, in closing, I do agree with you that Internet-based social networking holds great promise for the sharing of ideas and for promulgating more progressive and life-positive values and I both welcome, and interact with those who are also interacting. I don’t care how old they are; I’m interested in people that think and create.