All Work and No Play

By Ryan Uytdewilligen

Well it would seem that entering today’s workforce has become a vicious circle for our youth. The millennial generation might just have the most limited set of options in history when it comes to work while simultaneously having the most options ever. It’s all a bit confusing but it really just depends on the person and the field they pursue. I have discovered work ethics are formed mainly by the environment that person is in. Thing is, the world and times we live in counts as an environment. We’re constantly influenced by media, trends, technology, and the ways society changes. Obviously the economy has a little bit of say about the jobs we get and availability of the ones we want. But like I mentioned before, the paradox of too many and not enough jobs has never been so evident. Times have changed and so have work ethics. It would seem today’s generation follows their heart rather than their brain.

Way back in the fifties, the job market was constantly growing thanks to an economic boom and more woman in the workplace. Post secondary was a luxury if you could afford it and seemingly guaranteed you a high paying job of your dreams. But for the average person getting married and starting a family before the age of twenty, secure jobs were needed. Because of this popular rush to go off and be a spouse/ parent, no one could be picky about what they did. Strong work ethics passed along by their parents who were typically immigrants or depression era survivors was a helpful tool to make going to work easier.

As history moved along, several lessons became common and passed down to the next generation. The practice of moving up in a company or “paying your dues” was simply the way it had to be. If you were going to work, you were going to have to start at the bottom. That style hasn’t differed too much today, but the understanding of working your way up sure has. Instead of long hours and earning your free time, the millennials are the generation of dreamers.

It would seem the common theme of the twenty first century is to follow your heart and do what makes you happy. While that sentence might seem common and easy to agree with, that’s just proof on how much people’s views have changed. Grandparents who worked to support their families also bestowed the lesson that following your heart is much more worthwhile than spending your life at a job you don’t like. We see this in movies, hear this in songs, and are told this theme in every type of medium out there. But as that belief became common, so did technology and affordable post-secondary school.

The Internet and all of the ways to access it has changed how the workplace actually does work. A lot more advertising goes into social media and company websites which is a full time job on its own. So it makes sense that besides the jobs that were created to run these new technologies, there are also a plethora of brand new ones to run social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps they would have been taken in a heartbeat fifty years ago, but people tend to overlook them now.

Graduates of many programs are still in that mode of getting their dream job just because they put in the years and cash for school. What they are not in the mode for is working their way up. These social media operation jobs are a perfect launching point but overlooked by people because it’s not what they studied. Now for the Catch 22 that complicates today’s modern workforce is that most entry level jobs require several years of experience. The only way to get that experience is either put in the time and work your way up or take part in an unpaid internship. Sure you’re paid in knowledge, but for those eager to pay off their student loans or fully support themselves, working for free is not an option.

So after years of studying and not being able to get the job you want or having to work for free, the impatient generation is at a crossroads. Determined to pursue a career that makes them happy rather than wealthy plays a huge role in that decision. But as we all discover, money doesn’t grow on trees, so at some point, a lot of us have to give up on that dream or take a job we don’t want in order to support ourselves. Fifty years ago this wasn’t a problem, people would be happy to have any job available, so why did that belief change?

Discipline in school has changed over the years where zeros and failures are not given out. If you try or show passion, you still get a passing grade. At home, discipline has all but dropped off or changed into bartering or gentle parenting. But telling our kids that they can do no wrong or have no consequences only hurts their future. The workforce is a completely different place that for the most part does not tolerate dream-following or passion as an excuse.

When a millennial does nab a simple job for steady pay, a stigma has been created for them that younger people are lazier and not as dedicated. While this has always been a problem, instant technology may play a role in the fading attention span, not to mention eagerness to move up quickly. To sum it all up, young workers are working towards themselves and their dream instead of working for that job. The reality is, if hard work isn’t put in, that job may never come.

From creating new jobs from scratch to searching for the very best, absolute right one, the job market has truly changed, except for the fact that there are still a lot of jobs out there. If there’s anything to take away from the current job market is the fact that we just need to pay our dues. Fancy titles and school diplomas don’t mean as much, but hard work and dedication still do. There is something to be said for moving up or taking an opportunity when found. I’m not saying don’t follow your heart, but instead put in the time to earn your dream. It won’t happen overnight either, but putting in time and hard work will make it all the better when you get there. The potential for becoming wealthy at a young age, like Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom, the founder of Instagram, have influenced the belief of being able to reach success early in life. To that I say to all the millennials out there, just take it easy and take every opportunity you can; everybody else had to. Good things come to those who wait and those who pay their dues and there is a different between rushing towards success and dedication. Until those good things come, hold your chin up high and keep working hard.

Title photo: Working Late used under CC License

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