Gen Y at Work: Are we intolerant and demanding?

Career blogs and business publications, like this article from the Wall Street Journal, all have a knack for painting a harsh picture of Generation Ys (people under 30). Here are some things they’ve been saying about us. We…

  • want work life balance and a good pay
  • can’t handle criticism – even constructive ones
  • are flaky and disloyal to the company
  • want to be CEO tomorrow
  • have an overblown sense of entitlement

As a Gen Y, I have to admit that while some of these comments are quite accurate (especially the bit on entitlement), others somewhat suffer from over generalization. Sure, I welcome a better pay and a fast career advancement — sooner than later too. But I don’t expect it to be handed to me just for showing up on time. Promotions are always based on relative judgments. Compared to my older colleagues, I have one glaring disadvantage; I lack experience. So my way up is to take every opportunity to learn, volunteer for more challenging work, gain that experience as much and as quickly as possible…in hopes that I can do what older people can — but learned in a much shorter time and done in a much better fashion. And if that means I have to sleep in the office, so be it. I’m not naive enough to expect the big bucks, while I go home at 5pm everyday.

For every workaholic like me, I know someone who’s perfectly satisfied with his pay — as long as he gets to go home at 6 on the dot. In every generation, there will always people who live to work and people who work to live. So these career bloggers and columnists could really do us a service by not lumping our demands together because there are differences in opinion and even generational gaps amongst Gen Ys.

With that said, I’ve noticed a worrying trend amongst my peers. Many just don’t stay long enough in their jobs. And I don’t think this incessant job hopping is a good idea. It’s no secret that the corporate world demands some level of expertise. This job hopping is a sure fire way not to achieve that.

Personally, I’ve been fortunate enough to land on a job in a company with people I’m happy to work with and work for. I’m approaching 2 years and I still learn something new daily. It doesn’t have to be a big lesson like managing a multi-million dollar project. Most of the time, what I learn are small, seemingly insignificant things like saying the right things at the right time to give your team the moral support to do their jobs better. It is these small things that often turn a failing project on the road to success.

And sure, there are times when shit happens. If it doesn’t happen, I’m pretty sure it’ll find you soon enough. Shit isn’t a bad thing; it’s an opportunity to challenge you, to take you to the next level. It’s coming up with innovative ways to overcome this shit that’s going to gain you the experience you desperately need.

So I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re a Gen Y and you’re thinking about quitting, I’d like you to re-evaluate your reasons — especially if your reasons are along the lines of “I can’t take this shit anymore.”

Do share your views in the comments!

  • If you’re Gen Y, what do you think? Do you agree with these career sites? Are there any common traits you’ve noticed about us?
  • If you’re a manager of Gen Ys, what do you think of us? Do share because it’s a good opportunity to learn how we’re being perceived.
  • And please, no personal attacks, no naming people. Thanks!