Fortune Profiles Gen Y

May 23, 2007

There's an interesting article in this month's Fortune Magazine profiling the Gen Y worker. It's a little scary how exactly I fit in to Gen Y even though I'm just on the cusp of Gen X (they define Gen Y as those people born between 1977-1995). Aside from being a little freaked out at being grouped as a generation with 12 year olds, they are pretty spot on about how we look and how we work, but I'm not so sure about the way they think we're SO attached to our parents. Read the article here.

Some of the things I think they're spot on about me are:

As the rest of the nation agonizes over obesity, Gen Yers always seem to be at the gym. More than a third of 18- to 25-year-olds surveyed by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press have a tattoo, and 30 percent have a piercing somewhere besides their earlobe. But those are considered stylish, not rebellious.

And speaking of fashion, this isn't a group you'll catch in flannel. They're all about quiet kitsch - a funky T-shirt under a blazer, artsy jewelry, silly socks - small statements that won't cause trouble. The most important decorations, though, are electronic - iPods, BlackBerrys, laptops - and they're like extra limbs. Nothing is more hilarious than catching a Gen Yer in public without one of those essentials. Let's just say most wouldn't have lasted long on Walden Pond.

AGGGHHHH! That is so me, artsy jewelry, tattoo, laptop, blackberry, iPod. But it's more than just the superficial stuff that they pick up on, it's also our work ethic.

They're ambitious, they're demanding and they question everything, so if there isn't a good reason for that long commute or late night, don't expect them to do it. When it comes to loyalty, the companies they work for are last on their list - behind their families, their friends, their communities, their co-workers and, of course, themselves.

Wow, I work from home. I moved away from Manhattan because I was sick of it and when I resigned from my job there I told them that one of the things I wanted was to be able to work from Jersey. And I loathe working past 6pm. I mean, this is me precisely...

"I had a conversation with the CFO of a big company in New York," says Tamara Erickson, co-author of the 2006 book "Workforce Crisis," "and he said, 'I can't find anyone to hire who's willing to work 60 hours a week. Can you talk to them?' And I said, 'Why don't I start by talking to you? What they're really telling you is that they're sorry it takes you so long to get your work done.'"

This is a really interesting article. They go a little into some weird stuff like how Gen Y-ers are supposedly really attached to home and parents, some companies apparently invite the parents to recruiting sessions or to final interviews or first days at work. That sounds a little sick to me. They talk about how Gen Y-ers will move back home at the drop of a hat and some have never left... That's a little out there to me as someone who moved out at 18 and never looked back, though my brother-in-law lived with his parents (even after he was married) until he was about 27, so I guess there's some truth in it.

Anyway, it's worth a read. I wish I could compare this article with one about Gen X. Weren't they the slackers? I wonder what they thought would happen with their generation. I wonder if they predicted that they would get stuck in middle management positions with inflated titles (I have several friends who are Vice Presidents of something or other with only one person under them). I wonder if they predicted that they would be trapped under the Baby Boomers who refuse to retire and free up some of the executive positions...

And here's the thing that really sealed my thoughts on it. I am a Gen Y-er because of this:

Big headphones
A boombox for the ears, because even Jessica Simpson is better with bass (and they look good).

Hipster clothes
Jeans, sneakers, hoodie - and a jacket? Behold, the new corporate uniform.

Yoga mat
He isn't a Gen Y if he isn't into "wellness."

It's how Gen Y does work. Who needs the office when you've got cafes, parks and your own living room?

Designer coffee
Half-caf, nonfat, short, tall and sometimes not coffee at all, it's a Gen Y staple.

E-mail is only the beginning. Gen Y craves connection, and these gadgets are the fix.

Digital camera
A must for Gen Yers to chronicle their fascinating lives (and post them all over cyberspace).

The identifying mark of the Gen Y flock. Enough said.


Malcolm said...

Ugh. Being even on the front end of this (1978), I am still annoyed at how well I am pegged. I left NYC when I realized I would never again believe in a company that wasn't mine.

mexpat said...

Yeah- It's amazing how much harder you can work when it's your "baby." I can't imagine going back to a fixed pay check and daily commute. Life's too short!