In defence of Gen Z

July 10, 2017
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Millennials can’t afford houses because they’re buying too much avocado toast. Baby boomers successfully messed up the world for following generations. Gen X are lazy. It seems every age group has its stereotype, and the generational divide will always exist with a misunderstanding from anyone born outside its parameters.

However, as a Gen Z, I feel increasingly more scrutiny from the public eye as we enter high school, universities and the workforce. Gen Z are on the precipice of starting adult lives in the seemingly opposite of a nurturing and encouraging environment. Cue the all-too familiar sigh of “Young people” with an accompanying shake of the head and a complete lack of understanding.

Let’s reiterate the fact that we’re not hopeless and unmotivated. We, like every generation before us, are merely trying to figure out how to tackle the world we’ve been placed in, which doesn’t come without its challenges.

Product of the times

Gen Z are classified as being born from 1995 onwards, brought up during the time of the recession. We grew up as the economy reshaped itself. We grew into a time of great change and the opposition of old and new values. As we grew, so did the problems faced within modern society.

All epidemics are seemingly on the rise; mental health issues, physical illness, drug use, homelessness. Day in and day out, we read and hear about the world apparently crumbling around us, with every problem seemingly increasing with every new year. The odds are stacking up, and Gen Z have been given the burden of coming up with solutions to these issues and reshaping society structures. It’s a big task we’ve been handed, so excuse us while we find methods of coping, bringing in a new way of looking at the world and a fresh set of morals and standards. It’s what is being asked of us, after all.

Gen Z are pressured from early days to begin forming plans and making calculated steps in the direction of full-time jobs, most of which involve working for free in order to gain that ever sought after experience.

Sustainability

Number one on the list of changing the world? Saving our planet. Gen Z demands and consumes some weird and whacky products and services, while also adopting some different ways of living. Keep Cups made out of old coffee grinds? We’ll spread that across our social media because it kills two types of waste with one cup. We’re made fun of for our almond milk lattes and kale salads while our digestive systems fail us. We’re ostracised for vegan lifestyles while meat production continues to harm our ecosystem. Change has got to start somewhere.

The dreaded job hunt

Gone are the carefree college days where worrying about gaining employment in your field was a problem for your graduated self. While uni years are still a time of great change and figuring out what you want from life, Gen Z are pressured from early days to begin forming plans and making calculated steps in the direction of full-time jobs, most of which involve working for free in order to gain that ever sought after experience.

The advertisement for an entry-level position with a recognition that a university student will not have had any career experience is basically extinct. We spend hours hunting and compiling applications for competitive internships requiring hundreds of hours of our time, all the while attempting to uphold our studies and pay for rising rent prices on our casual jobs. No amount of “back in my day” advice from our parents’ generation is ever going to help reduce the accumulating stress of a Gen Z on the hunt for stable future income.

We're used to living in times of uncertainty and, as such, make more calculated steps towards success.

Entrepreneurialism

Driven. Socially aware. Digital natives. These are words all associated with Gen Z, with 60 per cent of us wanting to make a positive impact on the world in our careers compared to 39 per cent of millennials.

Our determination is said to have come from being raised during the recession. We're used to living in times of uncertainty and, as such, make more calculated steps towards success. The High School Careers Study showed 72 per cent of high schoolers wanted to start their own business someday. We cop a bad rap for being attached to our devices, but our brains have adapted to processing an overload of information daily and we’re looking at an extremely different future than our predecessors. The ‘kids’ now know as much as the adults – is the world ready for Gen Z?

Grace Potter

Grace studies Communications & Media at the University of Wollongong and is an avid fan of Harry Potter and coffee. 

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