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Hell Is Being Surrounded by Gen Y

6 Dec 2010

Warning: If you were born between 1979 and 1994 and are easily offended, skip this post.

Since I was born in 1979, I can be classified as either Generation X (1964 to 1979) or Y (1979 to 1994). After nearly one semester in the MBA program surrounded by Gen Y, I decided I’m firmly in the former because I have next to nothing in common with the latter.

Because of the recent recession, current MBA students are primarily people who have a lot of time on their hands because they can’t find jobs or have lost their jobs. A few want better jobs and hope to use their time in the MBA program to network. (Apparently, the MBA program is not actually about academics or learning. Getting a good job is not about what you know, but who you know. I feel a little naive for my assumptions, especially the latter, despite them being based on my actual work experiences.) The ones like me, who was “highly encouraged” to get an MBA and whose employer will pay for it, are a rarity.

After three months surrounded by Gen Y, I concluded I would never hire any of them (at least the ones in my MBA program) because of their delusions of grandeur sense of entitlement. They believe once they have a degree in hand, they’re entitled to high-paying jobs that will allow them to be the boss of everyone (or at least their own little domain), let them make “strategic decisions” (I’m certain several people who used that phrase don’t know the meaning of it), and will fit into their busy social calendars.

Once the Gen Y-ers find out where I work, the schmoozing begins. However, after I tell them about my 5 and 6 AM meetings, my twelve- to sixteen-hour work days, my juggling of several global projects with overlapping schedules, and my policy of not saying no to my boss, they cringe in horror. In the movies and on TV, there are a lot of characters who dress in nice clothes, spend eight hours at the office staring at their computer monitors or attending meetings with lots of PowerPoint slides or flirting with their hot co-workers, and hit the bar after work for a cosmopolitan before an evening at a fancy restaurant or the latest night club with their friends. I tell the Gen Y-ers their lives can most definitely be like the movies, but they can’t expect the six-figure salary to go with it.

Then there are the ones who feel unnoticed and unappreciated by their current employers. They believe they deserve a new job with a higher salary and more responsibility. Of course, every time someone says that to me, I wonder why their current employer doesn’t already pay them the higher salary and entrust them with more responsibility. And after working on projects with a few of them, I know the answer. If you assume someone else in the group will do the work while you “practice your leadership skills”; you tell me you can’t meet a deadline because you “have plans for the weekend” and then e-mail the professor and tell him your group members are meanies; or you can’t finish an assignment because you’ve never heard of common size or trend analysis, don’t know how to use the index section of a textbook, and only use the internet for Facebook and Twitter instead of oh, research, then I wouldn’t let you to wash my car, let alone give you a recommendation to my employer.

Of course, the best part is when I tell these Gen Y-ers that on top of my official responsibilities, I will also troubleshoot computer problems for co-workers if the Help Desk takes too long or can’t help at all. Some gasp in horror because that’s not part of my job description! I shake my head at them because (1) they don’t understand the favor system and (2) if my VP wants to pay me six-figures to show him how to work the CD-ROM, I will show him how to work the CD-ROM. If he asked to make him coffee and pick up his dry-cleaning, I would make him coffee and pick up his dry-cleaning. (He doesn’t, by the way.) These Gen Y-ers don’t grasp that people whose mantra is “It’s not my job” don’t get offered more responsibility–and the pay increase that goes with it.

There are obviously exceptions to the rule (and I mentor at least two of them), but if these Gen Y-ers in my MBA program are indicative of the majority, no wonder my employer hasn’t met its hiring quota in the last five years.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 Dec 2010 7:29 PM

    While I’m not, even remotely, in your position, I’ve found that the same general thinking permeates a lot of working environment with people in that age bracket (and a couple of older people who, I believe, suffer from Peter Pan syndrome).

    I hear a lot of, “They should pay you more for doing (fill in the blank)” while I spend my time thinking that, under the circumstances, I’m a)lucky to have a job, and b)getting paid to do it (i.e., the more time on the clock, the less pitiful the paycheck).

    I’m sure that the percentage of people with disproportionate sense of entitlement hasn’t changed that much since some hominids first used tools, but by golly, I seem to keep running into them more and more the older I get.

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  1. 2010 Recap « Ann Bruce | The Not-so-deep Thoughts

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