Gen Y was the first generation raised with the belief that with hard work, study and a little guts, we could have anything we wanted. We did everything our parents told us to; we got
great decent marks at school, we got into university, we worked part time jobs (sometimes more than one) while we studied and we saved our money so we could travel/go on university exchange/undertake internships/volunteer in Africa/etc. We built resumes full of part time jobs, we earned our degrees and we hit the workforce…
Well, some of us did.
And after all of this, why has full time work been such a culture shock for the generation of big thinkers, dreamers and ‘hard work will get you anywhere’ thinking grads?
Well, firstly – nobody told us it would be this bloody hard to get a job. To just get an interview means submitting at LEAST 200 resumes, as if writing that many cover letters is a way of earning your stripes. Once and if you get to the interview they ask questions you’re totally not expecting, and so the well-spoken, intelligent 20-something you were only moments earlier has been transformed into a babbling toddler who can’t say ‘yellow’ properly. Wonderful.
If you somehow manage to get the job, then suddenly you’ve signed your life away to what is essentially exactly the same as school, but without the extended summer holidays. Yeah, that’s right, school. Remember what it was like?
There is that nasty, bossy kid who thinks so much of themselves they can’t look past their own nose to realise that no one else likes them. There’s the quiet kid who has the best marks (or highest performance indicators) and the kid who stays up late and parties every night. There’s the bludger, who scrapes by on the bare minimum and makes your job infinitely more difficult – when you get stuck with them on a task, and of course, there’s always that one skeeze who pulls your pony tail like the little boy in year two used to…
You’ll get to collaborate with people who have amazing ideas and you’ll get to actually see these ideas through to fruition because the company has a budget for it.
They didn’t tell you that getting up in the morning, every morning, five days a week, is exhausting – or that you will quickly begin to hate most of the people you have to see day in, day out, 52 weeks of the year. They also didn’t tell you that you need permission to take a holiday or a sick day, like you’re not a real adult.
They didn’t tell you that you’ll be expected to stay until 9pm almost every night of the week, working yourself into an early grave, and when the weekend FINALLY comes, you’re too exhausted to move and so there goes your social life. That unless you already have a significant others, you’re unlikely to find one any time soon because they’re also all stuck at work until ridiculous hours. Oh and just as an FYI, those days that the office is shut over Christmas? Those aren’t free days, they’re docked from your holiday leave!
But, on the up side, they also didn’t tell you that finally, after all the years of assignments and lectures, you’ll get to put all that theory you learned into practice. That you’ll get to collaborate with people who have amazing ideas and you’ll get to actually see these ideas through to fruition because the company has a budget for it.
That when you get that raise or promotion, you’ll feel so much pride because all your hard work paid off. That when the work you produce, be it a magazine, a law suit, a financial merger, a property sold or even a sales target met, you get to turn around to everyone else and say ‘See! I can do this!’
Most of us are barely into our first jobs, maybe our second – some of us haven’t even secured the first yet – and right now, it’s hard to see ahead because this whole work thing for another fifty-odd years…well, that sounds shit. But if I’ve learned anything, is that even though your first ‘real world’ job will suck bigger balls than anything has ever sucked – it gets better.