Jul 26, 2007

Or Maybe It's Just Because They're 21

Today's New York Times features an article by Lisa Belkin about the clash between Boomers and Gen Y-ers at work. There's been a recent spate of these kind of articles, all of which, like Belkins, trot out the usual examples of clueless interns wearing flip-flops to meetings and having a hard time adjusting to the idea of regularly showing up for work at 9 AM.

Now what's baffling to me about this is that these behaviors are all being attributed to some sort of generational zeitgeist rather than to the fact that 21 year old interns have always had trouble adjusting to the schedule of the work world and that the offspring of the upper middle class have always entered the workforce with a sense of entitlement.

One curious behavior, which Belkin didn't mention, but which I've seen reported several times in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, is parents calling employers on behalf of their 20something children. Either to demand raises, get feedback from interviews or negotiate a job offer. Now I will tell you that I have never heard of such a thing from anyone in the ad business, and we certainly employ a large number of 20somethings. But I can't begin to fathom why the employers in question allow this. I mean if someone who worked for me (or wanted to work for me) had their parents call to demand a raise, said employee would be out on the street in a heartbeat. Or at least suffer a huge drop in my estimation. And it would take all of my willpower to remain civil to the parents.

Now the reason I'm posting about this is that you know this is bound to show up on a brief sometime soon. Product X is aimed at Generation Y and this is what they're all about.

Just wanted to prepare you all with the proper objections.


Anonymous said...

Thank you. I don't know what it is, but I'm at the very end of Gen X and notice a HUGE difference between the attitudes/entitlement of X and Y.

The thing that kills me is that the reason Gen Yers are like that is because their parents are self-entitled Boomers. So the idea of these two clashing makes me laugh, because in a lot of ways they're exactly the same.

Worst two generations ever.

Donny Brunner said...

Last year I hired a new employee at my office in suburban Milwaukee, 22 year old fresh grad. from a private school in Milwaukee.

I sent him to standard Sales Training in California for one week. Not only did he not call me the following Monday to inform that he wouldn’t be in, but he was so juvenile he abandoned his class, missed his flight and stayed in CA to party with friends.

So fine, fire him and move on right? That’s when the story really gets fantastic.

Fortunately, his father took it upon himself to call and inform me that not only would he not be back on Monday, but he was going to need a week or two off to, “reflect and figure things out.” As if he still had a job and I owed him a spot in the office.

I informed him we were going to go in another direction. He simply couldn’t believe it. Neither could I! I blame myself for not seeing his character in the interview process.

HighJive said...

remember, toad, in our business, the parents (usually clients or ex-partners of high-level agency executives) call to demand their kids get an internship or entry-level job. and you'll definitely get another call from the parents if you try to fire their retarded offspring.