June 27, 2005

The Entitlement Generation

Who didn't see this coming?

"We're seeing an epidemic of people who are having a hard time making the transition to work — kids who had too much success early in life and who've become accustomed to instant gratification," says Dr. Mel Levine, a pediatrics professor at the University of North Carolina Medical School and author of a book on the topic called "Ready or Not, Here Life Comes."

While Levine also notes that today's twentysomethings are long on idealism and altruism, "many of the individuals we see are heavily committed to something we call 'fun.'"

He partly faults coddling parents and colleges for doing little to prepare students for the realities of adulthood and setting the course for what many disillusioned twentysomethings are increasingly calling their "quarter-life crisis."

In other words, for the first time in their lives, someone isn't handing them the world on a silver platter. They're actually being expected to earn something.

Now, deserved or not, this latest generation is being pegged, too — as one with shockingly high expectations for salary, job flexibility and duties but little willingness to take on grunt work or remain loyal to a company.

Of course, you know that the nitwits who validated the mindset that produced this coming generation have something to say about it.

"It's true they're not eager to bury themselves in a cubicle and take orders from bosses for the next 40 years, and why should they?" asks Jeffrey Arnett, a University of Maryland psychologist who's written a book on "emerging adulthood," the period between age 18 and 25. "They have a healthy skepticism of the commitment their employers have to them and the commitment they owe to their employers."

Notice how they automatically assume that working for a living makes you a drone or a cog in the machine. And as an employer, how committed do you think I'm going to be to better pay and benefits if I know that this generation of workers has the mindset that every position is a temp job?

My daughter Rachael is "interviewing" for a job this morning (she'll start in August when she gets back from Governor's School). She's got the job already, but the boss asked her to come in for a half day "to make sure she likes it". Rachael already told her, "I don't care if I like it or not, I want the job and I'll work hard". She knows that if she does a good job during the summer, odds are that she can get weekend hours once school starts again. She also knows that she has to earn that schedule, because nobody's going to give it to her just because she wants them.

Posted by: Ted at 11:31 AM | category: Links
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1 Good for her, and good for you!

Posted by: Maelstrom at June 27, 2005 11:39 AM (z62e3)

2 Some cultures don't even have an adolescence, much less an emerging adulthood and other academically-approved periods of irresponsibility that lead until retirement.

Crikey, I remember reading Sibling Society by Robert Bly ten years ago. And ten years later, it's the same story.

Posted by: Brian J. at June 27, 2005 11:43 AM (V04ml)

3 I'm with you man, I thought I was coddled as a teenager, but then I hear about families like my wives or friends, who made each kid different meals at supper time because they were so finicky.

Or telling kids not to get jobs in high school because they're still kids bla bla.. Frig, I got a job because my parents wouldn't buy me anything I wanted, just needed. My 14 year old nephew is getting $200 for his birthday, 200 fucking dollars.

Posted by: Oorgo at June 27, 2005 03:54 PM (lM0qs)

4 Hey! That article came word for word out of my morning paper today. What gives? I liked the term 'kidployee' though, it so accurately describes me, especially in juxtaposition to the rest of my office.

Posted by: shank at June 27, 2005 04:37 PM (jfEhX)

5 Oorgo, I spoil my kids - within reason. Even then though, they have to earn the goodies by helping out around the house. It's a treat for them when Mom and Dad pick up the check at the bookstore or take 'em out to dinner.

Shank, I hear you. Believe it or not, I'm the youngster in our group of programmers. One reason I got the job was because I didn't come in thinking that they should make me king because of my experience. They had bosses already, I was willing to just be a member of the team. I should start calling myself the kidployee.

Posted by: Ted at June 27, 2005 06:52 PM (+OVgL)

6 I don't disagree, but I do think there's a bit of which-came-first with the employer/employee commitment. People my age saw our parents put in 15, 20 years at places like IBM and get laid off when they'd been expecting a gold watch at retirement. I think the notion that every job is a temp job started 20 years ago.

Posted by: nic at June 27, 2005 09:18 PM (IBRcA)

7 You could do what Madonna is doing.

Posted by: Amy at June 27, 2005 11:26 PM (tPzR0)

8 Congrats to Mookie, doesn't surprise me a bit. She'll do just fine whatever she winds up doing.

Can I brag about Brian for a minute? He just had his employee review after working at Starbucks for eight months. His supervisor told me she wishes she had six of him. The customers love him, he's always on time, and when she tells him to do something she can assume that it's done. I stood in the back of the store for half an hour last week when he didn't know I was there and just watched him operate. When I complimented him on it later, he said, "Who wouldn't like working in a store that sells mood-altering beverages?"

The kids are all right.

Posted by: Doug Pratt at June 28, 2005 11:05 AM (D6ZyB)

9 A friend of mine was hiring an assistant recently -- paying in the mid-$30s/yr -- a very reasonable rate given the amount of work required and amount of skill level/experience, well, NOT required.

These kids were coming out of college, saying, "That's all you pay?" I spent the first four years out of college making less than that -- a LOT less (like, $18,000 a year and, admittedly, not making ends meet). But I worked HARD and earned the experience and credentials that would get me into the great job I finally have now.

There's something to be said for laying the foundation to really appreciate the bigger things that come to you IN DUE TIME. Not to say that I didn't think I was hot shit with my shiny new degree and all, but the power of the pecking order cannot be overcome by youth alone.

Posted by: dawn at July 02, 2005 06:51 PM (Dh1V0)

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